Four teeth poorer but no less wise, Lael has been relegated to a liquid diet for a week. A full pot of coffee and a ginger-coconut-kale smoothie started the day. Add: one stack pancakes and bacon for me. Following, she went one way– to work, and I went another– uphill.
No more than a half-mile from home, I connect with the Campbell Creek Trail. Then, I link the Tour of Anchorage ski route, crossing the path of a Junior Dogsled Championship in action, to Moose Meadow Trail, Black Bear, and the South Gasline Trail. Successive trails become narrower and narrower, from wide groomed multi-use trails to wide singletrack, then a narrow trail that teases my front wheel into the adjacent banks. One benefit of winter singletrack is the soft cushion of snow to either side; no help in staying upright is that same magnetic sea of wheel-swallowing snow.
A steep, prolonged push up the Gasline Trail brings me to the Chugach State Park Prospect Heights Trailhead, and a parking lot full of Subarus with bumper stickers demanding that Tahoe remain blue, that Alaska remain wild, and Al Gore be elected president in 2000. These heights expose the city, the sea, and the far-off Alaska Range, where Denali and Foraker are in full glory. My prize, finally, is the Powerline Pass Trail which I find rideable at times; otherwise, it is a little too steep and a little too soft. The capacity of a fatbike is greatly diminished by the uphill grades. Fat tires may gain floatation, but in soft snow traction is at a premium without a much deeper tread than is available. Still, a wider rim and tire combination may help. The Nate tire at 5-6 psi worked admirably. Like walking uphill in snow, tires slip and snow slides.
My final efforts bring me to over 2200ft, within sight of Powerline Pass and well-exposed to wind and blowing snow. The last five miles had been little riding and a lot of pushing. Sweat on my brow, the ride home is chilling, and thrilling.
Powerline Pass is pictured above as the snowy saddle, left of center. The pass is easily acessible by bike in the summer, with a final, steep push to 3550ft. A steep descent to Indian is found on the other side.