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  1. #1
    Caveman
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    Yakutat Southbound, AK Coast

    11 days in the wilderness.. how do you sum it up and put it into words? I always have a problem with it and every effort falls short. This will be no exception since my brain is mush and has been in a stream of conscious mode since I've been back.

    We had nothing short of a fantastic trip. The weather cooperated, the route was excellent with good riding and a host of challenges, our group was solid and could crack dirty jokes 27 hrs a day. But leaving it at that would not make for much of a story. Details! photos! right?! ok fine. twist my arm.

    I've been thinking about this and the best way I can describe how this trip came about is "Circular Inspiration". Roman did bad ass trips in the 90's that blew the doors off the notion of wilderness mountain biking as we know it. Following in the footsteps, Dylan and I were amped on the concept and started packrafting with our bikes a few years ago. Eventually We spent 19 days riding, pushing and paddling our Pugsleys on the northern section of the Lost Coast from Yakutat to Cordova, a route brought to light by Erin and Hig who walked it. At some point a now older and wiser Roman saw the new bikes and the potential... bought one this spring and proposed doing the Southern part - Yakutat south. um yes, Game on! Friends from Colorado, Steve Fassbinder and Mike Curiak, both well versed in the world beyond 2.25" joined in. It was quite the crew, well rounded (literally for some) and experienced.

    Expedition Coastal fat tire biking is a unique animal. It's gear intensive with Bikes and packrafts, yet simple and primal. When things click it makes for a very efficient method of travel without the mundane of simply walking. Yet there's more too it than that. You'll have try it for your self, but for me it has something to do with real adventure riding. The giddy feeling of riding where nobody has biked (or even thought of it!) in a remote environment with the self reliance and determination that comes with it. There I tried.

    (The photos in this post are a mix of mine and some of DOom's)
    Off to Yakutat, landing there and prepping our bikes brought on total deja-vu of 3 years earlier. Same bikes, same flight, same bacon cheeseburger from the lodge.



    Heading out to the beach:

    We had the perfect night, a low tide that made for a fat tire playground. Gigapixels were burned finally on the beach.






    Roman with fatties..


    a funny thing happens when everyone is spinning nearly the same gear combo...


    We enjoyed near perfect beach for the first 2 days. Crossed Situk Lagoon, The Dangerous River and finally the Alsek as we worked our way closer to the Fairweather range.


    We spent the whole trip traversing below all these peaks.


    Immense mountains smack in front of us, crashing surf off to the right. Is this really happening or am I dreaming? if so don't pinch me..


    At the end of the third day we hit Boulders. Boulders on the beach mean big glaciers are close by. Following bear trails we went up into the woods and schwacked to the lagoon formed by the Grand Plateau Glacier. (note clawage)




    We reached the lagoon as the evening's chill was upon us, combined with icebergs and glacier melt made for a brisk paddle in search of a camp spot.


    We found one, a tiny stretch of beach between the alders and rocks.


    Tall tales by the campfire accompanied sporadic glacier calving off in the distance and we hoped that the lake level would not rise from the micro tsunamis and swamp our camp.

    Putting in the next day, everyone giddy for good reason!


    Our exit from the lake was a bit of a crap shoot. Our maps (last updated decades ago) showed a braided stream leaving on the far end of the lake. Our plan was to follow that back down to the beach. We did, but the stream was not really there anymore. The landscape had changed dramatically and we climbed up away from the lake in full on schwackfest swamp mode.


    We found the stream, but it was just slime covered boulders, balls deep at times.


    Off the stream and into the quality. Mike gets acquainted with Devils Club and all that summer Alaska trip have to offer.


    A few hours later we broke out onto the coast. The massive boulders were gone and we were greeted to smooth and ridable beach. This would be the theme for days to come. Bash and bushwack in the morning, cruise in the evening.


    Cape Fairweather - Subdivision sized boulders loomed ahead. I figured a solid 4 hrs to get around it all. It took us about 6 or so reminiscent of the Sitaki Bluffs along the Malispina Glacier. It was here that Roman educated us on the aptly suitable verb "Stumble****ing" nothing describes it better. Roman obviously derived the term from decades of perfecting the art. You bash along with your bike in mind numbing tedium. Thought process slows, as does time. Your body tires from the minute yet strenuous movements needed to carry, push and bash though the cobbles and boulders. The only thought that need to be held on to is that yes, the bike will be useful again at some point so keep bashing, you're having fun you idoit.


    Bear trails, not the best maintained in these parts. someone needs to write a letter.


    they grow em big out here.


    As evening progressed we left the boulders behind and were quickly greeted to the goods. re-pack, pedals on. I was in no hurry this night however. After a solid day of stumble****ing the big trees, big beach and big ocean brought a sense of calm. an erie calm in a way, something that made me think that this moment right here and then, is what I came for.


    more to come.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Excellent!, looks amazing
    Looking forward to seeing more Eric!
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
    http://coastkid.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    A Surly Maverick
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    Quote Originally Posted by coastkid71 View Post
    Excellent!, looks amazing
    Looking forward to seeing more Eric!
    1+
    A Fatback'd Lefty for who life IS a Beach

  4. #4
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    Effin' brilliant, Eric.

  5. #5
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    There's nothing to beat being places where the next human is hundreds of miles away. I used to love that feeling when I lived in outback Australia.

    Great writeup. Hope it's going to get into some mainstream press.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  6. #6
    Powered by ice cream.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait View Post

    more to come.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  7. #7
    NONDURO
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    Really nice photographs and description/writeup. Looks like an amazing adventure.
    QUOTE from MTBR.COM: You have given out too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later.

  8. #8
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    So jealous!

    Whats a gearlist look like for a trip like that?!

  9. #9
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    A true adventure indeed! Thanks for sharing!

  10. #10
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    inspirational and aspirational....
    thanks.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddrjeffe View Post


    So jealous!

    Whats a gearlist look like for a trip like that?!
    balls, brass (2)

  12. #12
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    So since they are riding pugs, are those Brass balls offset?
    Also did they get them online or at their LBS?

  13. #13
    Caveman
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    offset ever since I got kicked there thanks.

    Gear list is simpler than you'd think. Devil is in the details and how it's all used and how you efficiently switch from one mode of travel to the next, bike-foot- boat. I'll try to post something eventually along those lines.
    Roman posted a short vid here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2cf1fF1i2E
    cheers

  14. #14
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    Oh Yakutat... my home sweet home. I wish I knew you guys were in town. I would have loved to said hello and maybe a cold beer. Glad you had a good trip. It really is a special place.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  15. #15
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    Great trip!

    Can't wait to hear more about it.

    Pat

  16. #16
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    Awesome!

    More videos/pics please.
    "Ride what you love, love what you ride"

  17. #17
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    Bearbait,

    How was your Dangerous River crossing? How far from the mouth did you guys cross and how swift was it moving?, Tide can also be a big factor. Flew over it yesterday and was wondering how that went.. Alot can wrong fast on that river,

    Steve

  18. #18
    Caveman
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    Hi Steve,
    We entered a bit inland and easily crossed the lagoon staying far and clear from the mouth playing with the seals. Straight foreword, no problem. Fun riding just after that. Wind hammered driftwood terrain park. I think the tide was low.
    The hardest river crossings were coming off the Finger Glacier south of La Parouse. They just gush out of the forest with a lot of energy. The Alsek was big but also straight foreword.
    If you have any aerial photos of any part of this route I'd love to see them!

  19. #19
    This place needs an enema
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarNorth View Post
    Oh Yakutat... my home sweet home. I wish I knew you guys were in town. I would have loved to said hello and maybe a cold beer. Glad you had a good trip. It really is a special place.

    Cheers,
    Steve
    Wish we had known there were 'friendlies' in Yakutat. Maybe you could have talked the lodge into finding some seafood for us...?!

    Amazing backyard you have there--thanks for sharing it. And I'll second the request for aerial pics--please!

    Cheers,

    MC

  20. #20
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    I was just flew down to the Akwe River ( the next larger river you crossed after the Dangerous River) to pick up some set net fish. I will TRY to fly down next week and get some pics.

    Steve

  21. #21
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarNorth View Post
    I was just flew down to the Akwe River...to pick up some set net fish....
    Just curious, do you land on the beach? What kind of plane, is this your business/occupation?

  22. #22
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    Just flying down with a friend to give him a helping hand. This last trip was in an Otter. Sand "strip" on the beach. They can land pretty much anywhere on the beach. Low tide of course. Have landed in Beavers, Otters, Cessnas, Beach 18's, Sky Ranger's, DC 3's, C46's. All on the beach up and down the coast.

    I found out through the years, its better to have friends with planes then to own one.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  23. #23
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    Bearbait,

    Did you all use a single speed set up and what type of gearing? Once again congrats on a safe and successful trip.

    Steve

  24. #24
    Caveman
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    kinda, singlespeed with 2 cogs on a freewheel. 2 of us had single cog white industries freewheels, Roman had vertical dropouts and ran a old school campy derailleur w/ 2 gears. gearing was generally 22-20, but some had a bit lower and higher.

  25. #25
    No, that's not phonetic
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    Looks awesome. I just got back from a sea kayak trip around Afognak and Shuyak. Conditions were ideal and I have a crazy farmer tan. Dunno if you have kayaked much, but it's a lot less work than what you dudes are doing.

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