ADA2301 Alaska “the last frontier”

Alaska is larger than France, Spain, Germany and Italy combined, but has fewer inhabitants than Frankfurt. There are over 50,000 km of coastline, more than three million lakes, active volcanoes and countless glaciers. So, it should be obvious what to expect on this tour: solitude and magnificent nature at the edge of civilization.

Day 1: arrival day

Welcome to Alaska


Today is the “first” day of our Alaska adventure. There is not much to report yet. The lobby of our hotel welcomes us with numerous exhibits from the Alaskan wildlife. In the afternoon we get to know our group and the guides. Tomorrow we will finally start for real.

stay tuned.

Johanna and Thomas

riding day 1: Anchorage to Moose Pass

Alaska here we come


So this is our first day of driving. In the morning it is finally time. We finally get our bikes. And then it starts already. After only a few kilometers we leave “Anchorage” behind us. And the rough beauty of Alaska opens up before our eyes. We stop a few times to take some pictures and let the impressions work on us. The highlight of the day is definitely the “Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center” a kind of drivable wildlife enclosure. There we come as close to the Alaskan wilderness as we might want to avoid outside. We continue to “Hope” where we learn something about the history of this special state. The last miles to our hotel take us through spectacular scenery. And that was only the first day.

riding day 2: Moose Pass to Talkeetna

a sunny adventure


riding day number 2 is coming up and with it almost 200 miles. Fortunately, in Alaska you can ride very fast and without disturbances. More miles also means more to see. So off we go. In the morning we drive along the “Turnagain Arm” back to Anchorage. The weather is great and we enjoy views which we might have missed yesterday because they were covered in fog and clouds.  Behind Anchorage we follow the highway in the direction of “Hatcher Pass”. But before we plunge into the gravel, we enjoy a lunch with a wonderful view. The “Hatcher Pass” is the highlight of the day. Over 20 miles it goes over a well developed gravel road through a fascinating mountain world. Simply wonderful. The last miles towards Talkeetna. pass as in flight. Tomorrow is rest day…. And we have earned it.

rest day 1: Talkeetna

Flightseeing to Denali with glacier landing

You don’t need to have done much in your life, but this” Niklaus says, getting off the plane.

What more can one add to that? Already the approach over the confluence of Talkeetna and Susanita River is impressive. Then we approach the mountain massif and Denali, which towers above its surroundings higher than any other in the world. One of the seven summits, highest mountain in America with 6100 meters. But all these superlatives are not needed when the summit appears, above the clouds and our tiny airplane hovers, over ridges and glaciers, close enough to touch, azure lakes in the snowfields. We touch down in a gigantic amphitheater of steadily unfolding mountain masses, covered by unimaginable ice masses that are but a remnant of those that once stretched to the Pacific. Just now it seemed at eye level, the summit, but the expeditions, not even half of which reach their destination take over three weeks to get from here to there, at temperatures as low as below -70 degrees. Good thing we get to climb in and fly back with a few more flips over this unique scenery. What a unique experience -müsch mal machhhhrrre!!! as the Swiss say.

riding day 3: Talkeetna to Fairbanks

The long way north


We start in Talkeetna with clearing skies on wet roads to the north, 16 degrees, perfect travel temperature. Denali National Park is soon reached. The mountain itself and also its Big five stay hidden, but the tundra now spreading around us is not less fascinating. Passing the “Stampede trail”, where Chris McCandless left civilization for his own wilderness, from which he was one of many who never returned (in Alsaka about 2000 people disappear every year!), the road leads us northward. The brisk wind shaking our bikes keeps us awake. In the meantime the 25 degrees are exceeded and the fact that the cafe/ german beer garden in Nenana is closed is hardly compensated by the gas station, where we find in Tucker-style thin coffee and a wide selection of colorful, sugary bars. The remaining 50 miles fly passt quickly even more so because it gets curvier with great views back to the Alaska Range. In Fairbanks, the northernmost city of Alaska and our journey, Thomas awaits us with cool beer in front of our cozy cabins, some of US barely make it to dinner. But that would have been a mistake, because while still at half past ten the sun shines brightly over the Chena river into the restaurant with live music an unforgettable day is coming to a striking end.

riding day 4: Fairbanks to Tok

hidden treasure`s and a lot of wilderness

A new day begins and like the last ones the weather is good again. We are in Fairbanks, after all the second largest city in Alaska. Of course not a feast for the eyes but Fairbanks still has something to offer. On the “Golden Heart Plaza” we learn something about the eventful history of this city. After that we have it, on the outskirts of the city, in a residential area. With a true “hidden treasure” to do. The “Fountainhead antique car museum”. The museum opens especially for us earlier so we have it all to ourselves. This lovingly compiled, private, exhibition tells great stories. And lets us dream of the beginnings of the city and its development.
We continue to “Northpole” where Santa Claus is known to live. We did not meet him but we have our own Nicklaus with us. After we have done our Christmas shopping, and a look at the Trans Alaska Pipeline have thrown. We reach “Delta Junction” and the end of the Trans Alaskan Highway. After a typical American lunch we tackle the last 140km. It is surreal how this road cuts through the seemingly endless wilderness. The drive is framed by a breathtaking panorama. Arrived in Tok a typical American motel is waiting for us. A “road trip” as it could not be better.


riding day: 5 Tok to Valdez

Panoramic road to the Pacific Ocean


After a very American breakfast, which would strengthen one sufficiently for heavy forest work, we sail under blue sky again into the Alaska Range. The yellow double line in the middle of the road leads us along lakes and wide rivers rolling through the valleys in southwestern direction from one breathtaking view to the next. Lupines and fireweed line our driving corridor. To the left, the unimaginably large Wrangell National Park opens up with 5000 meter high, thickly ice-packed peaks. For a few souvenir photos, the driving rush is gladly interrupted. Only the dream of Italian coffee remains unfulfilled here as well as at our lunch stop. Plans of top-case fitting espresso machines are discussed.

Before Valdez some construction sites, glacier views and waterfalls slow us down – even waiting and stopping is a pleasure here! We take a close look at the Worthington Glacier, then we drive over the fortunately snow-free Thompson Pass to our port and destination city Valdez. Directly at the harbor basin the hotel and the “Fat Mermaid” are waiting for us. What a string collection of wow-moments!

rest day 2: Valdez

A cruise is always fun


Today is a rest day, which of course does not mean that we have to spend the day in bed. Valdez is a big name, but the city itself is not exactly a metropolis. So there is not much to do. No Problem-then we can concentrate on what we are here for: nature and wilderness. And how better to explore the “Prince William Sound” than by boat. Our captain is a real original. And entertains us almost the whole trip with stories and facts. Many facts. The highlight of the trip is of course the impressive Columbia Glacier, which we get very close to with our small boat. There is so much to discover out here. An unforgettable experience.

Eine Seefahrt die ist lustig


Heute Rasttag, was natürlich nicht heißen soll das wir den Tag im Bett verbringen würden! Valdez ist ein großer Name, die Stadt selbst ist aber nicht gerade eine Metropole. Es gibt also nicht endlos viel zu tun. Umso besser, dann können wir uns auf das konzentrieren weswegen wir hauptsächlich hier sind: Natur und Wildnis. Und wie könnte man den “Prince William Sound” besser erkunden als mit einem Boot. Unser Kaptain ist ein echtes Original:  er unterhält uns beinahe die ganze Fahrt hinweg (immerhin fast 9 Stunden!) mit Geschichten und Fakten. Vielen Fakten. Das Highlight der Fahrt ist natürlich der beeindruckende Columbia Gletscher, dem wir mit unserem kleinen Boot ordentlich nahe kommen. Aber auch die Seeotter, die auf dem Rücken vorbeitreibend winken, die Orkas, die Buckelwale und Seelöwen und Seeadler und und und…  machen den Tag zu einem ganz unvergessliches Erlebnis.

Riding day 7: Valdez to Glacier View

Back to the sunny side of the Chugach mountains 


With a light drizzle, leaving cloud-catching Prince William Sound is not quite as difficult, even though it has enchanted us with its wildlife and glaciers. Back over Thompson Pass with again spectacular views of Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum we stop at the visitor center of Wrangell National Park. Here are nice restrooms (oh yes, sometimes happiness is in small things!) and lots of nicely prepared information about this gigant nature preserve.

Pitstop in Glenallen, then the road leads to Lake Louise, a formerly for military personnel built vacation resort at a huge lake area.

As we approach the mountains again, wonderful views of several of Alaska’s glaciers (over half of North America’s glaciers are here!) are soon possible, even more enjoyable because under sunshine.

The sheep mountain lodge with its own helicopter and white moose is enchanting, a private cabin with distant views awaits all. But first we celebrate our birthday girl Amparo! It’s not every day you turn 21 in such magical surroundings 

Riding day 8: Glacier View to Anchorage

Homewards with sled dogs

At night the rain drums down on our cozy cabins. After a freshly prepared breakfast with coffee from a shiny barista coffee machine, fog still hangs in the slopes and lets us only guess at the mighty Matanuska glescher. Fortunately, the temperatures climb with the road winding down into the valley and in Wasilla the sun is already shining again. Again there is coffee, which causes pleasant humming sounds, for one or the other a mighty cookie in addition. Around the corner is the “Iditarod headquater”, where we learn a lot of interesting facts about the famous dog sled race covering more than 1000 miles.

Via Anchorage downtown the tour leads us to its end, wistful faces at the motorcycle return are quickly cheered up with a beer. Yes, great days are behind us and everyone immediately thinks of where they want to go again or which corner yet to go to in Alaska… of course, who would seriously claim that one can finally explore this wide, wild spot of earth in “only” 10 days?! So we will all leave safe and happy and hopefully one day we be able to come back to “the last frontier” Alaska!

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