I last did this bike trip back in 2011, before my shoulder injury. Last year I didn't feel I had the miles under me to attempt the trip. But after a year of biking, I was ready. On the first visit (March 26), we began riding at 9 a.m.
Along for the ride were Jon, our friend Alan who has done the trip several times, our friend and co-worker Peter and our Giant Bicycles product rep Paul who was visiting from Portland, OR.
|A light-snow year meant more biking on large river rocks.|
|First river crossing. Don't worry, Paul, it's frozen.|
|Paul is speechless!|
|We're here! Icebergs encased in ice then blasted by |
wind-blown snow to give them the bumpy surface.
They remind me of scaly dragons.
|Now that we've reached the glacier, we'll turn south and go |
through that gap between glacier and mountain. I've never been
that far before, but I also don't remember the gap being so large.
|Alan after the gap (and a pressure ridge).|
|Peter and Kobuk on their first trip to Knik.|
|Jon chatted with another pilot who made a short stop at the glacier |
as we begin our return trip. Paul, Peter, Alan, pilot and Jon.
|Jon pedals toward the gap for the trip home.|
|A few hours and lots of soft conditions later, |
back at the Hunter Creek bridge.
The next week, we returned. We had a few changes to the group. Joining Jon, Alan and me were Alan's girlfriend Beth and my co-worker Zane. We got an earlier start, leaving the parking lot at 8 a.m. I had made a few changes to my equipment: Instead of clipless pedals and my biking shoes I rode with platform pedals and waterproof hiking boots. I also wore my gaitors. I brought spare socks this time (ensuring that if anyone needed them, I could pay back the favor).
|The water had risen in the previous week and the river |
crossing was gone, so we went around one of the river bends.
|Part of the detour - lots of river rock and gravel. To get to |
the glacier, we went between the mountain that angles down
on the right and the low moraine just to the left of it - you
can just make out the gap in this photo.
|Alan leads the way across a pressure ridge, followed by Jon,|
Beth and Zane.
|I approach yet another pressure ridge.|
|Sculpted forms of ice and snow.|
|Jon's pedal on a frost-covered section of the lake.|
|Riding near the icicles.|
|Jon explored an ice cave as Alan and I watched.|
Okay, that made me a bit nervous, but maybe next time...
|Less blue at the edges.|
|Alan looks at the sculpted ice.|
|Jon searches for the best route across a pressure ridge.|
|Sometimes the ribbon of snow-covered ice between the river|
and the moraine was wide enough and firm enough to travel on.
At other times, it was best to just push through the boulders.
While walking with my bike along the thin line of snow between the river and the boulder field, both my feet dropped straight through the ice and I landed a foot lower than where I had been, splashing into several inches of water. I looked down, relieved that I wouldn't get a drop of water in my boots. Zane wasn't as lucky. He ended up in a few puddles, but the warm day saved his feet from getting cold. He spends a lot of time standing in rivers fishing so I'm sure next time he'll use different footwear. After we passed the boulders, the riding got better, but we still punched through the thin overflow ice that hovered above the older ice. It was not only a physical challenge to ride through this, but also a mental challenge since you can't always tell when the ice will break or how far down your wheel will fall.
|He was just hanging out near the open water.|
Looks like a good place for me to take a break, too!
|Cruising back to the trailhead with a tailwind and sunshine!|
|So happy to have smooth riding! No gloves and riding with|
my hands atop the pogies, the roughest part of the route is done.
|One final stretch on the ice-covered slough.|