It has been quite a while since the last post here at FSTPKR. I have a ton of follow up posts about recent developments in the world of fastpacking, however I am a one man show here. I am swamped with work opportunities this winter, and as this post will document I am on a tight timeline. I have been hustling all winter to sock away as much cash as I can for financing this trip.
This summers trip is: BLC to the Bering Sea. BLC being Reno, NV my hometown and Bering Sea being the mouth of the Yukon River. There will be three modes of travel for this tour, bike/ hike/ paddle. Here is the breakdown on the mileage for each mode of travel:
Bike 2,847 miles
Hike 33 miles
Canoe 1,858 miles
Total 4,738 miles
I decided on a route I can navigate with human power. I decided this winter that it was important that the route be unbroken, much like my thru hiking approach. Directness isn't an issue, nor is the speed in which I traverse this distance. I mainly wanted a route with scenic value, historic value and tons of opportunity to view wildlife. I will be documenting the trip with my trusty video camera and camera. I also will be carrying a satellite messenger with me for the entire tour so I will be sending out a couple beacons daily ( I figure once at noon and once again at camp) so that anyone interested may track my progress. I will also mobile blog along the way with my cell phone, although that will be entirely dependent on cell reception. Cell reception will be spotty to non existent once on the Yukon River. However, the satellite messenger will still be able to track my progress.
Now for a more detailed discussion of my route. My route out of the BLC (Biggest Little City aka Reno) is same as the first leg of my Fall 2011 Bike Tour. This route out of the BLC worked really well and I especially enjoyed the scenery. I leave town on old 395 and hook onto Red Rock Rd out near Stead. This takes me up to the NV/ CA stateline and back onto HWY 395. From here 395 north to outside Susanville where I jog east on a shortcut that bypasses Susanville proper. Back onto 395 which I take all the way north of Lakeview, OR. Up here I head east on HWY 140 to Denio. I head north out of Denio into the Steens Mountains. Jog around the east side of Malhuer Lake and up the back way to HWY 20. From here HWY 20 into Vale, OR. Here my route leaves the Fall 2011 Bike Tour route. I will cross the Snake River into Idaho and pick up HWY 95 which I will take up to Cambridge, ID. This is a junction where I will be basically following a leg of the Adventure Cylcling Associations TransAm route. I will take this all the way to Missoula, MT. From Missoula I will be on another route of the Adventure Cycling Association called the Great Parks North. I will take this up the east side of the Rockies and eventually head into Banff and Jasper National Park. From Jasper I am back onto a route of my own design which follows HWY 16 to the Cassiar - Stewart HWY. North on the Cassiar - Stewart to its junction with the ALCAN HWY (HWY 1) which puts me into Yukon Territory. I will take HWY 1 to Jakes Corner where I will leave the ALCAN and take a back route down into Skagway, Alaska.
Once in Skagway I will bounce the bike home (box it up and mail it home). Then it is my trusty feet that will propel me the next 33 miles over the Chilkoot Trail. I am excited to be retracing the steps of the early stampeders. This is the same route they would have used to access the headwaters of the Yukon River back in 1898. This trail will take me to the edge of Lake Bennett where I will switch transportation modes.
The canoe leg of the journey begins next. My canoe will be shuttled up on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad Route. I will assemble my canoe and begin my journey across several large lakes that feed the headwaters of the Yukon River proper. From here it is down the Yukon to the little village of Emmonak, AK. If all goes well I will unload my gear in the village and make arrangements for a flight home. I hope to time it that I can paddle the empty canoe out into the Bering Sea. Doesn't seem right to come within 11 miles and not go the distance. However, weather will be a huge factor in the decision to paddle the last 11 miles or not.
For more detail on the route, click on the google earth map above. If your tech savvy you may also link to a kml file of the route here. You can launch this file yourself in google earth on your own computer.
This route visits:
13 National Forests (State Park and National Historic Park)
11 Wildlife Refuges/ Areas/ Preserves/ Wilderness
10 Provincial Parks (Canada)
4 National Parks (Canada)
4 Recreation Sites
Much of my costs for this trip are in the form of new gear. I have had to purchase a canoe and all of the trimmings. I hope over the next few weeks to post a few discussions of the gear I will be using. I have also had to purchase an expedition tent which will be necessary as I approach the Bering Sea. High winds and cold temps are common here. I am also trying to get my hands on a stick stove for the trip. I would like to not use a stove that runs on any sort of gas. This is in no means an ultra light trip, however I will definitely pair down my gear for the biking leg as I would like to make time on this leg of the journey.
My resupply strategy will be much like thru hiking. I realized on my first bike tour last fall that I was carrying way to much food per day. I think I will break my drops up for the bike leg into 3 day legs, that way I am not carrying a week plus worth of food on the bike from the outset. It didn't occur to me how often you pass through towns on a bike compared to long distance hiking and it really is silly to be carrying food for week long legs. The most I will get stretched out will be on the bike along the Cassiar Stewart Highway and of course many points along the Yukon River.
Upon return I hope to compile my footage into another one of my no budget documentaries. The opportunities to view wildlife should be outstanding along all segments of this route. Having grown up in Alaska as a kid (I was born and raised in Anchorage) and traveling the ALCAN several times as a young adult I know how wild the bike segment can actually be. I am lucky I have 15 years of river guiding under my belt too, as tackling the length of the Yukon could be daunting for someone unable to read water. The 33 mile hike shouldn't be too difficult even if it is still snow bound.
My timeline for the trip is tight. I have to be back at work by mid August. This is a good thing though as the weather has a tendency to deteriorate rapidly past the second week of that month as one approaches the Bering Sea. I will be kicking the trip off on the last day of April or May 1st. One bonus of being on the Yukon near the first part of June is riding the crest of the run off. I have read many accounts of hardly paddling and covering 60 miles a day. This basically gives me another month to order the rest of my gear, line up any sponsors, order my food, pack my resupplies and mail them off, mail off my gear, and fidget with any new gear as it comes in. I also need to work out a few technological bugs for this trip chiefly the satellite messenger. I want this to be as interactive a trip as possible. So please share, discuss, comment away. I want to share this journey with as many folks as I can and would greatly appreciate any of FSTPKR's followers to help spread the word.
Where is this all going? What no speed records? I realized last summer on the Grand Enchantment Trail that I want to be in the lonelier/ less traveled locations on our planet. The sheer amount of wildlife I observed on the GET astounded me. This is basically my departure from fastpacking into the world of adventuring. If all goes well I hope to repeat with many more bike/ hike/ paddle adventures launched from my front door. In particular I hope to spend more time in the Arctic.