Check out the novel: Trudge On, Soul
The icy wilderness of Alaska is the perfect place to lose yourself. But Warren doesn’t want to lose himself. He wants to lose someone else.The book, Trudge On, Soul, is the result of three long years of late nights, critique groups, and editing. If you haven't read the blog, I'd suggest you stop reading and at least click here to read the preview chapters of the book. The blog and pictures have spoilers and the book is a much better read. Think of the website as a documentary, and the book as an engaging movie. Otherwise, click here for a Photo Album of the trip. Click here to see the article Triumph Motorcycles did on my Adventure. Or, the blog starts now!
Thirteen years ago, a dormant seed burst from the soil with the words “Someday, I’m going to ride to Alaska.” I hadn’t considered such a trip beforehand and I don’t exactly know where it came from. I think many of us carry these tiny yearnings for adventure that springs to life when the right trigger appears. For me, it was seeing a BMW adventure bike for the first time. I’ve always loved motorcycles, the outdoors, camping, and wildlife and in that split second my subconscious pulled it all together and spit out Alaska, the land of beards and mosquitoes.
It was a slow growing plan. Not until two years ago was I finally able to pull the trigger on a Triumph Tiger 800XC (and part ways with cruisers forever). I set a day two years down the road (Summer 2013). It was far enough away I could talk about it but not close enough to have to worry about it on a conscious level. But as time passed and reality set in, I began to stress and plan. Then I traveled nearly 7,000 miles with my friend, Mike. I wouldn’t call it a vacation. I wouldn’t even call it fun, as a whole. It was a lot of work and often quite uncomfortable. But I would call it incredible, meaningful, and an awesome experience. An adventure.
An adventure must include challenge, stress, exhilaration, pain, pleasure, rain, and shine. You must be thrown out of your element and experience new things. At times the adventure must be cursed and questioned but also have moments of breathtaking beauty…to the point of tears. Our trip was all that and more. In the grand scheme of adventures, ours was a small drop in a large bucket. We met people who have spent years riding bicycles around the world and backpacking through long mountain ranges. I’ve seen and read about amazing motorcycle trips around the world (Long Way Down, The Longest Ride, Etc). So in one sense, I feel like I really accomplished something grand and in another, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.
We covered 6,800 miles (rode 5,000 on bikes and 1800 on the ferry). I pumped 111 gallons of gas into my motorcycle and paid between 3.16 and 6.30 a gallon for gas. Our most common meal was instant mashed potatoes with whatever we could find thrown in (salmon, chicken, tuna, rocks, etc). Mike drank roughly 100 cans of Redbull (rounded to the nearest 100…they should have sponsored us). We had two mechanical issues with bikes, camped for 16 nights, and hoteled it for 6. We saw over 30 bears, 10 or so whales, a handful of sea lions, puffins, porpoise, 3 moose, and 3 caribou (unless you count the dead ones in hunters trucks, then we saw like 50). We had one chipmunk for dinner (as a guest, but he brought his own food).
We watched (and heard the thunder of) several tons of ice crash into the ocean off a 600 foot high glacier. I shivered, freezing in 20 degree weather and sweat like a pig in 80 degree temperatures. We stood on ice 4,000 feet thick at 8,000 feet on the tallest mountain in North America. We rode and camped in sun, rain, heavy fog, wind, rain, and more rain. We explored pavement, dirt, rocks, gravel, and mud as slick as ice. I took about 3,000 pictures and over 100GB of GoPro footage. We both saw a common cold come and go. Our emotional maturity, crude humor, and sarcasm ranged from that of 15 year old teenage boys to about a high of about 19 (our wives would have been mortified to have seen how quickly we lost a good 20+ years of mental development and my kids would have disowned me). Luckily, much of what happened in Alaska will be forever forgotten in the high mountain peaks. The rest I will tell you about over the next couple of weeks (along with a complete review all my gear for my biker pals out there).
Or, here are links to all posts in the Alaska series:
Alaska on Motorcycles
My buddy, Mike, and I took our motorcycles and traveled 6,800 miles on a crazy Alaska Adventure. We saw over 30 bears, 10 or so whales, a handful of sea lions, puffins, porpoise, 3 moose, and 3 caribou. We watched (and heard the thunder of) several tons of ice crash into the ocean off a 600 foot high glacier. We stood on ice 4,000 feet thick at 8,000 feet on the tallest mountain in North America. We rode and camped in sun, rain, heavy fog, wind, rain, and more rain. We explored pavement, dirt, rocks, gravel, and mud as slick as ice. It’s all here for you to read about.
Planning for Alaska
How do you prepare for a motorcycle trip to Alaska. I had no idea. Mike and I wing it.
Packing for Alaska
This is a breakdown of how I prepared my bike and what I packed for a three week motorcycle trip to Alaska.
Day 1: The Alaska Ferry (Bellingham to Haines)
Day one of our trip to Alaska. I almost crash on our short drive to Bellingham to catch the Alaskan ferry. Did you know you can set a tent and camp on the deck of the ship?
Day 2: Riding the Alaska Ferry
The mountains are black shadows that disappear into clouds. It’s dark and quiet except for the churning engine. Pitch black and we keep pushing up through the dark, narrow canyon. There are lighted buoys in the still water and the captain navigates the boat through the middle of them. Everyone is asleep on the deck chairs around me under the heated lamps of the Solarium. It is very peaceful. I’m on a boat going to Alaska. Crazy Awesome. Read on for more…
Day 3: Still on the Alaska Ferry
It’s late, I’m in my tent now trying to sleep and listening to the rain. Tomorrow we start riding…and camping. I’m really nervous about the rain. I don’t know what the next three weeks will be like. I’m afraid we are going to get very wet and very cold.
Day 4: Haines, Alaska
The bay is surrounded by mountains that are covered in trees and topped with clouds, like they tried to pass through but got tangled in the trees and are stuck in place. I can see wisps of white in and around the tree branches and it does seem that the trees are holding them back. This feels like Alaska. Even the color of the water has changed to an icy blue.
Day 5: Haines to Haines Junction
The ride from Haines, AK to Haines Junction, Canada is rougher than expected. I see a wolverine up close at the Kroschel Wildlife Center. Later, haphazard conditions make riding almost impossible.
Day 6: Haines Junction to Chistochina
A big surprise on the side of the road starts our day off with a bang. The day also ends with a bang. A bad kind of bang.
Day 7: The Red Eagle Lodge
I struggle to face my situation. What do I do? How do I fix a problem when I don’t even know where to start?
Day 8: Chistochina to Anchorage
Rain and a backwards motorcycle throttle make the day difficult and dangerous. And if The Motorcycle Shop doesn’t come through for us, it will get worse.
Day 9: Anchorage to Homer
The drive down the peninsula to Homer is spectacular. Breathtaking scenery and a narrow 2.5 mile tunnel through a mountain. Incredible.
Day 10: Homer, Seward, Anchorage
A day living inside an episode of National Geographic Explorer. That’s the only way I can describe the wonders I encountered on our fjord tour.
Day 11: Anchorage to Denali
The top of the world! We go to the top of the world!
Day 12: Denali National Park
Denali National Park. What more can I say? What more do you need. Denali National Park. Freakin’ Amazing.
Day 13: The Denali Highway
We ride the Denali Highway: one of the most famous off road adventures in Alaska. Rain, mud, and wind make it a challenge. And our day is not without mishaps…
Day 14: Kennecott, Ak
We ride the often challenging, one-way dirt road through the wilderness to the ghost town at the Kennecott mines.
Day 15: Top of the World Highway
Another one of the great Alaskan back-road adventures: the Top of the World Highway. The toughest road of the trip. Brutal.
Day 16: Dawson City to Whitehorse
We clean mud off our bikes in Dawson City and prepare for the journey home. The day is a rough one, and we face several unexpected challenges.
Day 17: Whitehorse to Skagway to Watson Lake
I start the day grumpy, and end the day grumpy. In the middle—more grumpy. Go ahead, you can laugh at my mishaps. It’s all here for your entertainment.
Day 18: The Cassier Highway
The Cassier Highway is magical. Brilliant. Why people choose the Alcan over this less-traveled road I don’t know. One of my favorite days ever.
Day 19: Hyder, Ak
Hyder, Alaska: one of the top spots for seeing bears. Things don’t go as expected, but we aren’t disappointed. Many highlights on this last jaunt into Alaska before the final road home.
Day 20: Lake Meziadin to Prince George
A long, boring day of riding causes me to reflect, and I learn a thing or two about myself.
Day 21: Whistler, BC
A tedious day of riding brings out the teenage boys in us, and Mike pulls a prank on a local gas station.
Day 22: There’s No Place Like Home
I make it home. Adventure complete. Did I get what I was searching for? Yes and no…