The cabin

Lots of families have them, especially in places like Maine and Minnesota and Alaska where glacial lakes abound and summer is precious.  My residence for a night, this cabin is a snapshot of life several decades ago.

The homely subtleties abound, including the lineup of hats advertising local bars, chainsaw manufacturers, and trucking companies.

A thick pot of coffee served with pork and beans start the day.

Remember that one time…

The draw has always been the location, and the lake’s crystal waters.

The midnight sun saturates the northern sky across the lake.  Linger on the deck, the sun hanging in the sky.

Midnight.  Denali and Mt. Foraker peer above the horizon.

Never dark this time of year– 2:30 A.M.

Absent the familiar bedtime cues, we roll into bed midway to morning.

Looking ahead:  There are only a half-dozen major highways in the state, but this area has a few interesting unpaved spur roads.  The Petersville Road extends about forty miles from Trapper Creek (mile 115 on the Parks Hwy) toward the south side of Denali National Park and accesses the historic Cache Creek Gold Mine.  The Denali Park Road, further north, reaches ninety miles westward on the north side of the Alaska Range to Kantishna.  Further north, the Stampede Trail reaches westward from the Parks Highway in a narrow finger of state land, disintegrating into multiple game trails, surrounded by Denali NP on three sides.  Across the Teklanika River on the Stampede Trail is the famous site of ‘the Magic Bus”, where Christopher McCandless spent a reclusive season as made public in “Into the Wild”.

The Denali Highway leaves the Parks Highway toward the east, and will be my eventual escape route out of the state.

I’ll be long gone

Trying and trying to leave town, although I’ve put off making fenders and wiring my rear light for several days while I tend the lists I’ve scribbled onto the back of receipts and napkins.  Planning to be on the road for several months, a few extra days of preparation and planning will help to ensure a reliable bicycle and a smooth trip.  I’m planning to ride the Denali Park Road and the Denali Highway on my way out of the state.  The Park Road is a 90 mile dirt road into the heart of the park to the settlement of Kantishna.  Private motor vehicle traffic is extremely limited as most visitors are required to travel in Aramark-operated school buses, which reduce traffic volume to several dozen vehicles a day on the only road in the park.  The unpaved park road offers some of the best dirt road riding and scenery in the entire state, and free wilderness camping permits are issued to hikers and cyclists, who are required to hide their bikes from view of the road and make camp a short walk further.  It’s a highly regulated system, but it effectively preserves and simulates the kind of wilderness experience most visitors expect.

The Denali Highway, not to be confused with the Denali Park Road, is a 135 mile connector between the Parks Highway at Cantwell and the Richardson Highway in Paxson.  Most of the surrounding land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, including several official campgrounds, which makes this another favorite Alaskan ride.  Before the (George) Parks Highway was built in 1971, the Denali Highway was the main automobile route to Mt McKinley National Park (since renamed Denali).  The Denali Highway was built as recently as 1957.

I have a short shopping list including a 1L drink bottle for my fuel, some scrap metal to complete a custom taillight bracket, and bear spray.  I’ve made a 4″ wide rear fender out of an $8 piece of aluminum from Lowe’s, some coruplast signage promoting Joe Miller’s Senate bid in 2010, and salvaged stays from a Planet Bike fender and an old chrome balloon tire fender.  In short supply of the proper tools, I managed to piece the whole thing together with the leather punch on my Swiss Army knife and a Park multitool.  The front fender will make for some conversation, as it features Joe Miller’s campaign slogan in four-inch tall lettering. It’s nice to have lights and fenders again.  The bike is finished, finally.  It’s ugly, and purple and excessively practical, but it’s done.

By now, I’m gone.

Boz Scagg’s song “I’ll Be Long Gone” is a classic from his eponymous 1969 Atlantic release.  The album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL with the usual cast of Swampers, and features Duane Allman on guitar.  Check out the guitar solo on “Loan Me a Dime”, from the same album.