Where The River Meets the Road

Detailed trip report coming soon!

During the summer of 2018 I completed a 1,350 mile bikerafting loop through Alaska that I’m calling “Where The River Meets The Road.” My goals were to promote low-impact travel, encourage human-powered exploration in Alaska, and inspire other people – especially women – to tackle solo adventures.

A general overview of the route: Red is bike (approx 1,000 miles total, 40% off-pavement), blue is packraft (approx 250 miles total), and orange is by train.

An interactive, detailed map of the route can be found here and I’ve provided a detailed description of the route below.

But this adventure was about more than just pedaling and paddling. I’m a grateful recipient of the Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award, and have also received generous support from Alpacka RaftsCorpore Sano Physical TherapyLa Sportiva, Black Diamond, Duct Tape Then Beer, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Revelate DesignsProBar, Outdoor Research, Kenmore Camera, and Four Leaf Spirits. This support has put me in a unique position to pay it forward. With much of my gear and expenses covered, I had more time and energy to tackle another aspect of the adventure: fundraising.

As a female cyclist and mother to an 8-yr old girl, I love the idea of getting more young girls involved in cycling. I also wanted to contribute directly to one of the communities I rode through. Therefore, during my adventure I raised over $1000 for Anchorage GRIT, to help cover program costs such as cabin rentals, racks, locks, water bottle cages, and food.
Committing to this route as a fundraiser made the adventure even more meaningful, and gave me that extra boost to keep going on the toughest days. Donations of any amount are still greatly appreciated, and can be made here.

Route Details:

My trip began in the Seattle airport, where I waved goodbye to my husband and daughter and boarded a flight to Anchorage. As much as I hated to leave my family, I’m glad my daughter watched me fly off to Alaska. In her world, Mama goes on adventures while Daddy stays home to take care of her, and we are all proud of this arrangement.

After landing in Anchorage, I purchased some final supplies, took my bike for a test spin to make sure all systems were go, and then headed northeast out of town on the Glenn Highway.

Although I mostly stuck to the Glenn Highway for the first few days, I also explored a few backroads, such as the overgrown but charming Pinochle Creek Rd that briefly runs parallel to the Glenn Highway. After almost 600 miles of riding, including some fantastically scenic gravel grinding along the Taylor Highway, I arrived in Eagle: the end of the road. It’s here that I inflated my packraft, lashed my bike to the bow of my boat, and start paddling down the Yukon. Heck yeah! It is approximately 160 river miles from Eagle to Circle, which took me three days of steady paddling, making the most of the long daylight hours. I floated through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Reserve, took endless photographs, and camped at public use cabins when I got tired.

In Circle I rolled up the packraft and put my bike back together. At this point I began riding the Steese Highway southwest, past the White Mountains and into Fairbanks. After taking my only rest day of the trip in Fairbanks, I continued south along the Parks Highway until I reached Denali National Park, at which point I hung a right and headed up Denali Park Road.  The first section of this road is paved, but after mile 15 it becomes a well-maintained gravel road that is closed to public vehicles, making it a great place to explore by bike. I caught a shuttle bus out to the end of the road, and then road back on my own. I lucked out on the weather and was able to view Denali from top to bottom at many points during the ride, in addition to pedaling past numerous grizzly sows and cubs, foxes, and Dall’s sheep.

From Denali it was a relatively short ride (65 miles and 2k of elev gain) down the Parks Highway to Hurricane Gulch, where I waved down the Hurricane Turn train. Although I typically prefer human-powered travel, the train was awesome! It is one of the last flagstop trains in North America, and is often used by locals accessing backcountry cabins up the Indian River Valley. It has open-air cars, dogs and kids milling about, and it stops whenever someone flags it down. I hopped off the train in Talkeetna and then headed for Anchorage, now in the final days of my trip.
I rode into Anchorage on a sunny July day, thrilled with my accomplishment but also ready to take a little break from the bike. 🙂 My husband and daughter had flown in to meet me as I finished my journey, and hugging them after three weeks away was one of the highlights of my adventure.

Bike and raft on a recent day trip on the Yakima River. I carried considerably more gear while in AK, but this gives a general idea of the set-up.