Before the pass, my Rain Goddessness stepped up the action. A layer of cold rainy clouds met us, with severe headwinds! It's unusual to have headwinds through here - tailwinds are the norm, or so we've been told. We pedaled like hell to go downhill at only 10 mph. It was discouraging.
It's the strangest thing...every time we have to pedal over a hill, there is a creek at the TOP. We notice and comment about this very peculiar phenomenon. One rider has a theory as to why this is so...something about uphill roads and bridges over creeks, but I didn't listen quite carefully enough. All I know is that usually you go downhill to get across a creek, not up. And we have been doing this all day long!
The Black Rapids Lodge was designated as our haven for lunch on this day of unpleasant pedaling. The anticipation of a hot meal, hot drinks, and warmth kept our spirits up as we clicked off the miles. There around a bend, after many ups and over creeks, it appeared. The tall roadside sign was tattered, the windows boarded up, and another building sagged dangerously from the roof line. We laughed in disbelief. This just couldn't be! Where was our hot lunch? My biking book (printed 1992) immediately was dubbed "The Book of Lies."
We did stop to do some serious prowling, and picture taking. I was on the lookout for something "found" to take back as a memento of Alaska. The last time I was in Alaska I picked up, off an abandon railroad bed near Skagway, a "J" shaped piece of metal used in track formation. It is refurbished as a paperweight in my office...I wanted something similar in concept from this trip. And there it was! A huge (!) bolt which had been sheared off part way down the threads. The head was intact. This was a HEAVY bolt but it was just what I wanted. It was already replete with memories by virtue of being at this cafe with these people under these circumstances. I packed it on the back of my bike, and off we rode. (So much for my bike touring litany of "every ounce counts" and "if it doesn't do double/triple duty, leave it at home." Exceptions can be made!)
Everyone arrived at Donnelly Creek camp ground between 1:30 and 3 p.m., chilled, tired, and ravenous. Fortunately the first riders into camp had the hot water going and the food out and at the ready for all of the rest of us. We searched out every possible source of food...panniers were turned inside out; the bear bags were emptied; food stashes that hadn't been seen in days suddenly appeared. Nothing was sacred. We ate everything in sight: stew, tuna sandwiches, coffee cake, all manner of hot drinks, even wok-popped popcorn for a snack! No wonder the leader's bike has been so loaded! He's pulled amazing stuff out from under his wok (looking like an upside-down pith helmet strapped to the back rack of his bike). And he again performed his camp cake trick. Success! It was very good.
We have just pedaled 47 miles along a major road and there have been NO services of any kind: no gas stations, no telephones, no roadhouses, no nothing. We couldn't make a phone call if we had to. We truly are out of touch with the rest of the world. This is R&R!
No northern lights so far. Too cloudy. It could have been snowing last night at Summit Lake when the rain quit beating on the tent, as it probably was cold enough. 42 deg. F at breakfast according to the outdoor thermometer.
Copyright (c) Judith J. Colwell, 1995. All rights reserved.