Dé Céadaoin 23 Nollaig 2009

09 Alaska Ultrasport Bivy to Bison

continued from: http://seansalach.blogspot.com/2009/12/09-alaska-ultrasport-rohn-to-first-bivy.html

I woke from my first solo bivy on the trail to a sky not quite as dark as I had hoped to wake under. There were no nightmares, no tossing and turning, just peaceful, restful sleep. It was becoming apparent that I really, really needed a watch, and that I have a problem with sleeping in while bivying.

I crawled out of my comfortable home and munched on my peanut butter and honey log as I walked out to check the trail. The first thing I looked for, and didn’t see, were footprints or tire tracks. The next thing I noticed was how firm the trail seemed to feel under foot. I paused mid-chew. This might be rideable! I scrambled to get my gear packed up as the sky became increasingly as bright as an overcast sky can become. I got on and pedalled away. It was a good day of riding, and kept the camera tucked away in it’s case because I made myself a schedule which did not include faffing breaks. The trail was about 90% rideable out to and across the Farewell lakes. I love taking photos though, and there are some sights that simply need to be recorded in pixels.

After days and days of white, black, and the subdued green of spruce trees, a big, bright, orangey object to the left of the trail certainly caught my eye.


Not long passed when I found myself riding past the ruins of someone dream cabin in the wilderness.


Crossing one of the lakes, I encountered something unexpected. People. With cameras. I was baffled. Turns out they were camped out fans/friends of Martin Buser and were there to cheer him on and watch the race. I rounded another bend in the river and came upon their camp. I think they were as surprised to see me as I was to see them. We chatted for a while, and I wouldn’t find out till a week after returning to civilization that we had a mutual friend. They told me Mike had been through the previous night, pushing along.


As I continued off the lake, I ran into yet more of them. Here I was in the closest thing to a huge expanse of wilderness on the course running into a dozen or so people. After a while the trail just continued to firm up and become increasingly enjoyable. It was certainly getting warm though.



I was having a blast, and time flew by as I cruised into Bison Camp. Some years this is an official checkpoint. This year, it was the reason for me carrying the camelback. Low demand for bison hunts meant the Runkles, who operate out of it, would not be around during the Ultrasport. I tried to find contact info for them on the internet and couldn’t. They used to be there almost every year, and would provide shelter and water for racers. They left the tents up though, and we were free to use one of them for shelter and warming up. I stopped to rest for a couple of minutes, but once there, couldn’t really think of anything I needed to do…



I did get to check the thermometer outside though. It certainly felt that warm.


Rob came by, pulling a sled with the checkpoint tent in it. Roger and George had gone through Rohn and were somewhere back on the trail. He thought for sure I would catch some of the walkers. He took off, and I waited another minute or two, I guess hoping something would come up that I needed to do, since everyone seemed to do something there… Eventually I gave up on that and pressed on toward the Athabascan Native Village of Nikolai.

Next chapter: http://seansalach.blogspot.com/2009/12/09-alaska-ultrasport-bison-to-nikolai.html

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