Day’s distance: 156 miles
Total trip distance: 3,105 miles
Temperatures in the 50s most of the day. Very windy at times. Showers throughout the afternoon.
Today would be a short ride south to Denali National Park.
The scenery was fantastic. It was difficult to capture the grandeur of this section of the ride as the valleys were wide at times with copious cloud cover.
At no time did I feel isolated today. This is a main thoroughfare between Fairbanks and Anchorage and I shared the road with many others, including some rather serious off-road RVs.
As big as that looks, it is even bigger. I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owner as he was crawling around under it and looked frustrated and busy.
Speed limits were generally 65mph and the surface in generally good shape. No problem for the RT.
Weather systems in this area seem very localized. It’s been tough to get a good sense of conditions ahead of time.
There was a built up area of hotels and restaurants just north of the park entrance, near McKinley Chalet and Resort. I had everything I needed, having topped off with fuel in Healy and carrying my Mountain House meal I would have for dinner tonight.
There was a bridge just south of that buildup that was a challenge to cross. The winds, which had been getting stronger as I approached Denali, were howling and the barriers on each side of the bridge seemed especially low. I timed my crossing so there was no oncoming traffic. The bike canted one way and then suddenly the other way and shifted positions in the lane. It was a heart stopper, for sure.
I arrived at the park just a few minutes later.
Check in was pretty easy. You aren’t assigned a specific spot. Instead, after checkin you find a spot of the type (A, B or C, depending on the presence and size of the vehicle) and place the paper copy of your reservation on the post in front of the site.
With that taken care of, but it still a bit too windy and rainy to set up the tent, I instead rode the bike up to Savage River, the farthest point into the park you can travel in your private vehicle.
It was rainy and very windy at Savage River, so I took a few photos on my way back to the campsite, despite the now steady rain.
I hung out under cover at the Merchantile where I checked in, having a snack and waiting for the rain to stop. Eventually it did, mostly, and I got my tent set up and my meal prepared.
Though it was only a bit past 8pm, I called it a day and got some extra sleep.
Day’s distance: 238 miles
Total trip distance: 3,343 miles
Another cloudy day with temperatures in the 50s and showers most of the day.
A moose was having breakfast as I was getting ready to leave. This was a common site in this campground, I was told. I kept my distance as she was giving me the eye and I didn’t know if she had a calf nearby.
The scenery along the highway did not disappoint, …
but I was getting tired of the low clouds and showers. 🙁
I had a late breakfast at the Trapper Creek Trading Post just before noon. A small breakfast burrito supplemented with a stack of pancakes and lots of coffee. It was a welcome break.
Two long road projects delayed me by about an hour. It wasn’t so much we waited an hour but the time we did wait combined with the slow speeds through the construction zone, often less than 10mph, made the few miles seem like forever.
I stopped in Wasilla for an afternoon latte to restore my energy and get me ready for the final dash into Anchorage, where the clouds broke up and the sun shone a bit more than earlier.
This was the view from my hotel room downtown.
I unpacked and cleaned up and headed down to the hotel bar for a drink. Stepping out of the elevator, I encountered three other riders who met me later in the bar.
Dennis, Steven and Isabelle rode their motorcycles up from Los Angeles and were on the Dalton on the same day I was. We chatted for a couple hours, comparing notes on equipment and telling stories of our adventures and experiences. Great times!
Tomorrow I have the day off. I will likely take a day ride south of Anchorage, perhaps to Seward, weather permitting.
This journey has been wonderful to tag along. I am nostalgic and have not been back to Alaska nearly 50 years ago when the ballet company I was with toured through the cities and islands. The petroglyphs in Wrangell were amazing.