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Old 09-26-10, 10:13 AM   #1
digibud
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Denali Park Road

Road back from Teklanika to Polychrome pass 9.24.2010. Clear blue sky. The ride was chilly. It was 25F (-4C) and my right foot got really cold. I had overbooties but they are cumbersome and I just suffered with very cold toes on my right foot. Left foot was fine.
While driving in a large wolf trotted by my car...It had a collar and wasn't concerned by my car. There were no bears to be seen. Perhaps they are denning already.
The road starts out uphill almost immediately and continues to the top of Stony Pass. It's fairly steep at times but never really bad. I had a pretty nice tailwind but that doesn't help much going slowly uphill. Golden Eagles circled Stony Mtn and sheep were scattered here and there on the mountain sides. Downhill at 25F is a chilly thing. I had to change balaclava's and gloves as well as put on and take off a windbreak jacket here and there.
My son-in-law got a later start but caught me as I moved up toward Polychrome; he missed the Lynx that crossed the road about 30 meters in back of me. After she crossed her kitten poked his head out and started across the road then saw me and jumped back...then proceeded across the road...with his sibling...two kittens followed mom downhill to the brush and began to hunt. Mom hunted while the kittens followed, crouching and stalking rabbits.
Son in law and I made it to the top of Polychrome pass with no trouble. I had met two other cyclists with no gear, riding in to Polychrome and they took our pic at the overlook. We were planning to camp at Wonder Lake but the wind was strong enough that I didn't want to continue on to Wonderlake and face a 55mile return against a strong wind.
My son in law continued on and I returned. On the way down Poly I met up with hiss dad who had biked out but was much slower than son. He and I biked back to Tek against a strong wind that gusted to 25mph at times forcing us to peddle downhill. We got back in good order but I was chilled to the bone. I had plenty of other clothing I could add but when you're biking hard it's hard to wear a lot of layers and get overheated.
Had the wind not been so bad and perhaps if it had been 10F warmer we would have both easily ridden in and out but it was a really beautiful day with the Park left to us almost entirely alone. Really wonderful.
I also had a wolf trot next to my car as I entered the park. Very nice.
The ride wasn't all that long but it was a good ride and I didn't even think of my butt hurting once. Legs held out well. I was a happy camper even on the two long mountain climbs.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:13 AM   #2
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When I visited Denali, late Aug. a few years ago, I thought about what a ride would be like out to Wonder Lake. On the way on the bus we passed several brown bears and cubs right on the road. That made me think twice about a ride! I bet it is spectacular being out there in such an amazing place.
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Old 09-26-10, 12:59 PM   #3
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yeah...it's amazing...I've biked back to Wonder Lake several times but not in the last ten years...
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Old 09-27-10, 06:28 AM   #4
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Thanks! Sounds like a great ride but I wish there were more pics! How long was the ride?
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Old 09-27-10, 08:36 AM   #5
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Thanks! Sounds like a great ride but I wish there were more pics! How long was the ride?
Yeah, more pics!
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Old 09-27-10, 08:39 AM   #6
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The ride was around 4 or 5 hours. It's well under 40 miles but I had to stop frequently to adjust this or that clothing, to eat and sometimes to just stop and watch. Any downhill over 100 feet or so required me to stop and put on a wind breaker but as soon as I was climbing I took off the windbreaker or I'd be overheating. When the temps are below freezing I find climbing hills to be a pain in the rear. I'm still overweight and tend to sweat a lot. I'm a photographer and it killed me to not take a good DSLR but I brought my wife's tiny point and shoot. I took two pics before the "just charged" battery died. Here's the one other pic I got..
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Old 09-27-10, 12:04 PM   #7
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The ride was around 4 or 5 hours. It's well under 40 miles but I had to stop frequently to adjust this or that clothing, to eat and sometimes to just stop and watch. ...
Definitely a trip like that is done to watch, not make time.

Last time I was in that area while we were watching a small herd of caribou came by in a bit of a hurry. Shortly after we heard why. A couple of people were walking too fast and making too much noise; both of which spooked the caribou.
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Old 09-27-10, 01:36 PM   #8
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So sad about the camera although knowing the way I like to take photos (and I suspect you as well) my ride would have taken 10 hours instead of 4 or 5. Having been to Denali, I know it is incredibly scenic - probably the prettiest place I have ever been. When I was there last (18 years ago!) I still had an old film camera. I took 6 rolls of photos. I remember it being bitter cold but I could retreat to the bus and warm up. I never thought of riding, on a bike. I just remember the brown bears, wolves and whatnot. I went on a little hike out at Wonder Lake and was freaked out the whole time.

Anyway I would love to go back someday... great adventure for you!
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Old 09-28-10, 06:02 AM   #9
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Bummer on the camera... and thanks again for the post. I must put that area on my bucket list.
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Old 09-28-10, 04:41 PM   #10
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test
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Old 09-30-10, 12:45 PM   #11
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Thought a few of you might get a kick out of a shot from 25 (roughly) years ago...with some humor..Here I am on one of my first rides to Wonder Lake along with a current shot from my most recent trip into the Park.
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Old 09-30-10, 07:24 PM   #12
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I'm jealous! I was stationed in Anchorage for almost 25 years and I never made it to Denali. Although I don't think I would have enjoyed riding in 25F weather.
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