Days 19 - 25: Anchorage, Alaska - Glennallen, Alaska

The journey south has begun...however, as you can see on the map we first need to travel north in order to get south... oh well !   We are in Glennallen, sitting in another lovely library taking a bit of a rest after our first section of climbing...

Day 19 (May 11, 2012): Leaving Chicago and Arriving in Anchorage 16 km (to and from the airports)

Today we flew across the country all the way to Anchorage... the day started off with a very early ride from our warm showers hosts place to the Airport.  Matt was incredibly kind and even biked with us to the airport at 6:00 am !!  It was quite the spectacle riding to Chicago airport with giant cardboard boxes strapped to the back of our bikes.   We got to the airport and Glenn had a little difficulty getting his pedals only took about an hour of prying...but he finally got them off ... and we made it to the gate just in time to board the flight.  We arrived in Anchorage and our bicycles and gear also arrived unscathed  !  It was a little cooler than Chicago...still snow on the ground, but we could see the mountains and we were both excited and nervous for the next leg ! 

We arrived at our warm showers hosts (Jenny and Chandler) place, and they were incredible hosts.  They made us a fantastic dinner and took us on a walk along the coastal trail...over the next two days we had a great time getting to know Jenny and Chandler !

Day 20 (May 12, 2012): Day off in Anchorage

We left our bikes at Jenny and Chandler's place and spent the day walking around Anchorage and picking up supplies.  We got some much needed bear spray and lots of groceries to sustain us for the next four or five days without many services.    We had another great evening with Jenny and Chandler talking about Alaska, and comparing notes as they will soon be embarking on a similar year long bike journey starting in Southeast Asia.  

Day 21 (May 13, 2012): Anchorage, Alaska - Knik River (Old Glenn Highway) 76 km

The Alaska riding has begun ! Jenny and Chandler pedalled with us for the first 45 km or so along a trail that led out of Anchorage.  It was so nice to have thier company for the first part of the trip, and we are so thankful for all of their hospitality, we had such a warm welcome to Alaska !  We hope that we might be able to meet up with them in South America !    Today's riding was beautiful, it was still a little overcast, but the mountains were in sight and our spirits were high.  After the trail ended we biked along the appropriately named Glenn Highway, before turning onto the smaller Old Glenn Highway.  We found a beautiful (albeit very very windy) place to camp along the Knik River near the bridge.  It was Sunday so there were a lot of folks out on ATV's with guns...seems to be a favorite pastime here in Alaska...By the evening the wind died down a bit, as did the shooting, , and we only had a bit of sand in our soup. :) 

Day 22 (May 14, 2012): Knik River - Just after Chicaloon 67 km

Let the climbing begin ! Our first day was relatively flat ...and today we began climbing a little anyways.  However, the grades were never to punishing and the scenery almost allowed us to forget that we were climbing at all.  It was a little overcast as the day progressed, and rained for about an hour or so, but soon let up.  We ended up finding a place to camp under a bridge... this is becoming somewhat of a theme.  There seemed to be a campsite already set up with a  fire pit and some wood... we started to set up and realized that it was probably hunting there were feathers all around and some of the wood had animal bits all over it... ick.... so we decided to have a fire and burn all the dead animal bits so that the bears wouldn't join us that night.... with a bit of trepidation we stayed, and made it through the night without any bear visits....

Also...I (Ali) have a new black fleece outfit... which I I have been wearing a lot, because of the cool weather.....

Black Fleece Monsta

Day 23 (May 15, 2012) Chickaloon - Jackass Creek 55km

Today we did the bulk of the climbing for this stretch (hence the short day)... For the first time we had an almost clear day, and the timing was perfect because we passed the Matanuska Glacier - a 43 km long Glacier that you can see from the road.... incredible !   I should say that for the most part traffic has been very light, and drivers have been very gracious - we have even gotten some thumbs up and such... however, we also got one major finger wagging from a truck driver.... oh well! We continued to climb and found another 'under the bridge' site on Jackass Creek!  Tonight there were very few trees around to hang our food from.... but we found an even better spot! 

Sorry about the sideways video.... lesson learned....

Man Hole... No Bears Allowed !

Day 24 (May 16, 2012) Jackass Creek - A Gravel Pit on the Glenn Highway.... 74 km

Today we reached the highest point of the road between Anchorage and Glennallen...about 3,200 feet.  At the top there was a gas station were we indulged ourselves and had a rootbeer, a coffee and a chocolate chip muffin.... ahh the life the cyclist, such small pleasures ! There was still a lot of snow up there, but the road was clear... thankfully !    It was pretty cold at the top, but we put on most of our warm clothing and prepared for an amazing cruise down... it was a fairly low grade, which meant that we got to cruise for a long time.... joy !!!  We knocked off the kilometers and eventually found a nice gravel pit to camp in.... :) But it had an incredible view of the mountains and the price was right !! 

Biking Up the Hills !

Day 25 (May 17, 2012) Gravel Pit - Glennallen  63 km

We reached our first rest, laundry, internet, and grocery location..... these have become luxuries ! Today's ride was very beautiful, we had some incredible mountains (14, 000 + feet), which are part of the Wrangell Mountain range, right in front of us all day long.  Plus, we were mostly cruising downhill.  We reached Glennallen early afternoon, and had a bit of culture shock when we went into the hardware store to look for fuel.... I guess a few days of biking and camping in the bush (or gravel pit) will do that to you.    We met a bunch of nice people and one older gentleman even asked us what our plans were for the Darien Gap !  We were able to tell them that the famous explorer John Burke plans to escort us through the wilds of the Amazon, and carry our bikes for us :) .   We ended up at a campground on the edge of town and had some incredible showers !!!  So, we have about 350 km under our belts.... almost 15% of this remote and beautiful leg of our journey ! 

Some Pictures !!! More to come :) 

Anchorage - Glennallen