A Few Things I Learned From Alaska:
a story of a (maybe) near death experience?
Let me preface this story
by stating a few things. Some of you may read this and think that it was stupid, dangerous, and could have easily been avoided - and I 100% agree with all of that. I am in no way a veteran “adventure rider”. If anything, I’d maybe refer to myself as somewhat “seasoned” when it comes to this aspect of riding. I’ve got plenty of camping trips and off-road escapades under my belt, including a nearly two-month cross-country trip throughout the United States and parts of Canada. I’ve encountered terrains from single track trails in the Canadian Rockies to roads like Engineer Pass and the Shafer Switchbacks. Each new trip I embark on teaches me something new and I am constantly learning things as I go. Things like: what I need to pack and what I don’t, what unexpected scenarios I could encounter, smarter camping practices, and even better riding skills. Though I still have so much left to learn and experience as a young (and dumb) rider, I feel comfortable that the level of knowledge I do have can be enough in most situations. However, the following story is one of preparedness, or lack thereof…and some ignorance. It’s somewhat embarrassing and a deeply personal encounter, but I feel it’s important to share. So like I said, for those more experienced riders out there, take this tale with a grain of salt. For everyone else out there, rider or not, maybe you too can learn something from this.
If you’ve never been to Alaska, go. It’s incredible. I’m not even going to bother trying to describe it as it would just consist of words like “amazing” and “unreal” over and over again. So, I hope that sells it.
I had been planning this trip for quite a while with the original intention of riding from Atlanta up to Alaska. However, life had other plans, so unfortunately that wasn’t going to work out. Instead, I found myself with a weeks’ worth of time on my hands and a plane ticket booked to Anchorage. My trip had now taken shape into something much more condensed, but I was still as excited as ever. My plan had now become this:
- Rent a bike in Anchorage
- Return bike a week later in Anchorage
Being that my time in Alaska was now so much shorter, I had to think carefully about how I wanted to spend it - which proved difficult. I ended up not making any firm commitments other than a few plans in different parts of the state. I had no idea where I’d be riding to or sleeping each night, but knowing that I had those two wheels, an open road, and a tent to sleep in - I was going to have an incredible trip (don’t worry, that’s as cliché as it’s going to get). Over the course of the next week I spent my time seeing and exploring Alaska in ways that I never thought I would - in addition to of course experiencing it via motorcycle.
From glacier kayaking in Kenai Fjords National Park, to flight-seeing in Denali, and even whale watching in Resurrection Bay, I really wanted this trip to include some off-bike activities. In the past, my trips were largely focused around riding and the touring aspect. With visiting Alaska, I knew that I wanted a more visceral way to experience the state, I wanted more adventure - which coincidentally is exactly what I would end up getting...
Pictured above: somewhere towards the end of the Denali Highway, caught in a snow storm....