Page 1 of 9 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 206
  1. #1
    Caveman
    Reputation: Bearbait's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    987

    The mountain bike version of "Into the Wild" - Seriously

    “How many days of food do you have?” asked the Denali National park Service backcountry permit form. Dylan gave a wry smile and wrote the number 5 in the blank, my stomach groned at the thought as I think about the 2 days packed in my frame bag. Maybe our plan is a bit ambitious, but that’s how a good trip usually starts.

    Our plan was to join two methods of travel, the mountain bike and the 4 lb inflatable packraft (www.alpackaraft.com) packrafts are little known to the rest of the world, but have been used for decades by Alaskan adventurers to float remote rivers and access areas without all the weight and hassle of bigger kayaks and rafts. New Alpackas are light, durable and have opened up many new backcountry travel possibilities, including far flung mountain bike routes involving rivers...

    So back to the real plan, bike 56 miles of the gravel Denali park road, over Sable and Polychrome passes, then hit the Toklat River, strap our bikes to the packrafts and float it north out of the Alaska Range into the interior to the confluence of the East Fork. From there we would attempt to find the remains of the famed “Stampede trail” an old mining road blazed back in the 1930’ but more recently popularized by the death of Christoper Mc Candless and the “Into the Wild” book and film. We’d take the trail and ride it back to the highway, and close the loop. 2 days, no problem, this is going to be fun!

    Starting on the Denali Park Road:


    Kellie at mile 50, cresting Polychrome pass, a bit of clouds and rain, but no big deal. Mt McKinley is back there somewhere…


    We biked the road with a bit of urgency, we got a late 2:00 pm start and we were hoping to float the river that night. We descended Polychrome sometime around 8:00pm and hit the Toklat river which gave some fun gravel bar riding, it was nice to be off the road and heading into the unknown.


    We quickly decided that rather than hassle and get wet with the boats and just get wet again, that we’d make an early camp and hit the river in the morning, we were all kinda tired anyway.

    Dylan’s dinner – give the man cookie dough and cheese and he’ll go many hundreds of miles.


    Rain all night gave way to a bluebird morning, we were stoked:


    Rigging the rafts, none of us had done this before so there was a bit of trial and error involved…


    Finally we hit the river, being a big braided mess there were fun sections like this but mixed in with lots of grounding out on shallow gravel bars and walking in the 34 degree glacier water. Typical packrafting really.


    Passing by Mt. Sheldon, named after Alaska’s famous bush pilot that pioneered glacier landings in support of mountaineering expeditions.


    Down stream travel was pretty good, but since we opted to go light, we left the drysuits at home, shaking the cold that creeps in from splashing, walking and sitting in glacier river water is hard to break. And a real effort must be made to keep hypothermia at bay. Here is one of our several “get out and run” stops with thunderclouds looming…


    Past more shelf ice…


    We were now in the interior and had picked up several other major rivers which quickened the travel as the river grew. After 12+ hours on the river, and chilled to the bone we hit the East fork confluence, took out and quickly built a bon fire with numb limbs to warm up and dry out. fire = life..


    So there we were, quite remote with lots of uncertainties of what lay ahead and pretty understimated on food, the weather was perfect however and we were all eager to get back on our bikes the next morning.
    Dylan finds some shelf ice to ride (it was pretty slushy..)


    One of the many, many river crossings traveling up the east fork gravel bars:


    Here is when things start to get fussy, there was no sign of the stampede trail, and the map we brought didn’t have much else to show, we just generally knew we needed to get off the river and contour around a ridgeline that we could barely see from the river bed. It was hard to leave the relative ease of travel on the river and dive head first into the bushwack, but that’s what needed to happen. The compass came out, pedals & bar ends removed and weight transferred to backpacks for easier pushing.


    After an hour we broke out of the forrest and into a huge tussuk field, The visability was great, but pushing bikes through the million mounds of grass was Type B fun for sure.


    We noticed what we thought was the Stampeede trail road bed cutting up the hillside far in the distance, so we made a b-line towards that…


    Once we wre on it though it really was evident that it was built in the 1930’s and not used since! Alder schwackfest!


    The trail was so faint it simply disappeared at times, re-claimed by nature. We kept pushing on up the ridgeline, knowing that somewhere distant was the Sashana River, site of the bus, and it would be a decent trail from there.
    Looking back at the tussock plain we left behind


    The food situation was gnawing, mentally pushing through wilderness like this, going on a king size snickers all day for 12 hours and having only a cliff bar to go is tougher mentally than it is physically. After a few more hours we reached a point where we could see the Sashana River valley far in the distance. We will go there...


    Having a definite landmark to march too made things a bit easier and lifted the uncertainties a bit. Hours more of pushing and sidehilling through tussocks and mosquitos brough dusk and we hit the Sashana River at about midnight. Nice when it dosent get dark isn’t it?


    Some of the many wolf and bear tracks we passed:


    The temps dropped into the low 40’s on the river and we all in go-mode but feeling the last 15+ hours of effort on very limited food. It got hard to stay warm… them Kellie stops “ do you smell smoke?” the moment it came out of her mouth I smelt it too. Someone was having a campfire. A few more bends up the river and an obvious ATV trail headed straight uphill – the first sign of a real and used trail yet. A short push uphill and there it was – fire, people and the Fairbanks 142 Bus.


    The warmth of the fire was rejuvenating and the other campers there gave us some rammen and granola bars. They seemed pretty amazed that we came out from the other end of the trail with bikes. We decided to just crash by the fire for the night and ride out the full length of the Stampeede trail in the morning.

    It was quite Ironic, given the history about the buss and the ”Into the Wild” story, that here we were, having our own adventure, out of food. It all added to the meaning of the place.
    The next day was great, nice to be back riding our bikes again after rafting and pushing them all this way. The trail was better than we had expected, sometimes at least:



    Reaching the Teklanika River, a big one, this is the river that McCandless could not cross when he tried to hike out to get food. I could imagine how much higher it would be later in the year when the glaciers are melting.


    The bikes were holding up pretty good given the abuse, until this, it was on the spindle for me for the final 25 miles.


    What the hell is that?

    A few hours later we were back in tourist land at the Denali park entrance mowing down burittos and ice cream..

    Lots more to tell, incredible trip! with two bonus days!

    Untitled from Eric Parsons on Vimeo.
    Last edited by Bearbait; 06-12-2008 at 09:43 AM.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: langford's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    637
    Awesome!!!!!

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ahathaway's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    25
    Amazing! That was one epic Epic.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    115
    absolutely inspirational trip... was that the same bus that McCandless stayed in?

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    35
    Holy s--t, dude.



    This is seriously the most amazing thing I've seen. I am in pure envy right now.

  6. #6
    Austin, Texas
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    170
    WOW!!!!! Absolutely incredible what y'all did. Dang. Rigid singlespeed no less. That is 400% coolness. You need to have that printed into a coffee table book.

    I've read that book 3 times, long before the movie came out. Pretty cool to see it done with bikes. And to see it photographed, since no photos of McCandless and his journey were ever published, except a few self portraits.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Last edited by grungePoodle; 06-11-2008 at 02:12 PM.

  7. #7
    Bored Carp
    Reputation: chuky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    1,519
    Y'all weren't exactly flying 3 mistakes high, but it looks like fun was had. Nice route - that is how I would want to see Alaska.
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  8. #8
    likes bicycles
    Reputation: vitale232's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    585
    Just wow.

  9. #9
    This place needs an enema
    Reputation: mikesee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    7,059
    Classic adventure Eric. LOL on the 'what's that' pic and expressions.

    You never responded to my suggestion about a certain island circumnav. I'm waiting...

    MC

  10. #10
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
    Reputation: crisillo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    20,763
    wow...super Epic!

    thanks for sharing...awesome landscape and pics!

  11. #11
    *****************
    Reputation: Bikinfoolferlife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    12,379
    Crazy! Congratulations and thanks for the report and pics!
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
    suum quique

  12. #12
    Grizzly
    Reputation: alizbee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    695
    Just.... Wow! Amazing ambition, and an incredible adventure.

    Those little rafts just sent my mind down the Colorado and some possibilities here.
    GrizzlyAdam.net
    Read my book
    Follow me on Twitter

    "The only thing better than solitude, is society."

    ~Ed Abbey

  13. #13
    Team Inflexible
    Reputation: Jaydude's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    1,860

    I love It

    Talk about the true spirit of adventure.

    Just when I think I have seen it all....... Go figure oars strapped to an MTB!

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    13
    Wicked. That's a true adventure. Great photos!

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mikedeber's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    198
    That's great, congrats and thanks for posting!

  16. #16
    Wait, what!?
    Reputation: Enduroblood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    745
    Wow. That is awesome guys. Really really awesome, I am extremely jealous.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation: crager34's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    374
    If anyone wants to know the meaning of EPIC.... they will after reading this.

    Thanks for sharing.
    It's not an adventure until someone BLEEDS!

  18. #18
    i am, therefore, i ride
    Reputation: nico2me's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    341
    That just redefined the word " epic ". Thanks.
    "Life is good..... enjoy it !!!!!"

  19. #19
    T_E
    T_E is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: T_E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    63
    'Into the Wild' it is.Really cool.
    It's a chronic addiction

  20. #20
    tiny rider
    Reputation: cartographer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    604
    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  21. #21
    @adelorenzo
    Reputation: anthony.delorenzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    1,660
    Wow... That is totally awesome. That bushwhack is unbelievable.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JeffSpicoli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    137
    "Epic" is an understatement......Inspirational and truly a journey to remember. Good stuff!!

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    2,379
    Awesome RR!! Always enjoy yours. Thanks for sharing the words and photos.


    For those that enjoyed this RR, check out his story from Bolivia! I think it was recently printed in... Dirt Rag? as well.

  24. #24
    Scott in Tucson
    Reputation: Krein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    1,313
    Eric,

    Love it! You've taken things to another level, opening up possibilities for traveling by/with bikes. I'm intrigued, floored by the adventure of this trip and in awe.

    Pretty gutsy to try the first bike-packraft on an unknown route and with unknown trail conditions ahead.

    Thanks for sharing the story and pics. Made for a great read!
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  25. #25
    Cat Herder
    Reputation: gustavej's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    107
    Wow, nice adventure, nice writeup and photos!

    It's pretty neat to see the bus, if not a little bit eerie.
    It's never too late to re-invent the bicycle

Page 1 of 9 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •