Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't Talk Back To A Yak


Tibetan Yak At Circle F Ranch

  On the Edgerton highway just the other day we rode past the Circle F Ranch home of the only Tibetan yaks that I know of in Alaska, and later that same day at the Hotel Chitina we feasted on Yak burgers, that were just as tasty as but smaller than   the Yak burgers at the Copper Center diner.
Our mission was to ride to Kennecott and shoot the legendary copper mine, as it has never been shot before

The Edgerton highway to Chitina is paved. Beyond that is the 60 or so miles of dirt and gravel to Kennecott/ McCarthy.  The road is the former rail bed of the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad, but has been improved to the point where the bridges now have guard rails and the risk of getting a railroad spike in your tire is minimum.
The rain that pounded on the metal roof of the shed outside our window last night has turned the first 10 miles of the McCarthy road into a slippery mud trail that reminds me of riding on the almost melted ice cream surface of the Dempster.
On a bank high above the mighty Copper River we decide to turn back rather than wrestle 900 lb. motorcycles the 120 mile round trip to Kennecott and back.

Back at the bridge over the Copper River,  dip netters chase the elusive Copper River Red Salmon

Dip Netters On The Copper River

South Bound on the  Richardson Highway we ride up and over Thompson pass and drop into Keystone Canyon on our way into Valdez.
Last spring a huge avalanche came down backed up the Lowe River and closed the highway for several days cutting Valdez off from the rest of the world. The world hardly noticed but we all saw the slide on the tvee news, and  it was hard to imagine just where it was, and just how large it was, but rounding a corner we discovered the remains….

Keystone Canyon Avalanche

From the of what is left of the slide it certainly must have been a challenge to get the road open again.
Just as predicted  the rain moved in again and in the morning made for a wet mile or so ride to the Ferry Terminal. It rained all the way to Whittier and along the way we were treated to Ice Bergs from the remains of the Columbia Glacier, some with resting seals. Of course the usual porpoises cruised by the ship, but the best show came from a pair of humpback whales.

At the dock in Whittier was Island Princess. In the cold Whittier rain it looked like her Caribbean tan had faded just like mine has...

We waited at the entrance to the tunnel hoping that it wasn't raining on the other side, but it was, and instead of riding home in the rain for 200 or so miles, if we didn't take the ferry we only had aboot 60. Pure of heart mostly and the Alaska Marine Highway come through again.



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