Day 12

8/12/95 - Saturday
Route: Rika's Roadhouse to Salcha River State Recreation Site
Lodging: Salcha River State Recreation Site
Mileage: 46 miles


This morning as I awoke, the wind was whipping through the aspens, as it had been doing all night. My only thought: please let it be a tail wind.

Riding early out of camp we came upon the North Star Adventure Cycling group pedaling their way from Missoula, MT to Fairbanks and then to Anchorage. Their leader was plugging along on his mountain bike loaded with every possible pound including a spare tire or two hung off the back. His bike looked as if it had come a long way. As we rode, we caught up to more and more of his group. They looked like a road weary bunch.

The two group leaders rode together, arranging lunch at the Midway Lodge. Once a couple of riders realized that the lodge needed enough food to serve 20 ravenous cyclists, it was a race through the flats and small rolling hills to get there first. Two riders took up our cause and rode in together with one or two from the other group.

I had a huge lunch! A pancake sandwich with an egg, bacon, side of French fries and Dr. Pepper. Caloric certainly. Healthy? Not. There was plenty of food for all! (In spite of the high caloric meals I was absorbing, I lost 5 lbs., nearly 5% of my body weight.)

I arrived in camp, a short ride from lunch, and promptly fell over while straddling my bike. Ouch. It hurt like hell and I had gravel-imbedded road rash on both knees. One woman was at the ready with first aid and fixed me right up: washed, with soap and water, disinfected with betadine, and then gave my wounds special visibility with some band-aids. I was the trip's first casualty.

We are camped in an area which is a small strip of tent sites between the Salcha River and a parking area for 4x4 recreational vehicles which use this area for boat launching. In fact, of the 30-50 cars parked, only a handful are not some variety of 4 wheel drive sport vehicles.

I pitched my tent so that I could watch the beavers swimming in the river, gnawing logs caught along the edge of the bank. They look like small rodent heads propelled along by some unseen force, noses and whiskers twitching and bright eyes carefully watching the shore.

At the Salcha Lodge...roadhouse food - it's same menu everywhere. There must be a common menu distributed to all roadhouse owners each spring. Breakfast is available all day long, and most everything is high calorie/high fat and filling.

Mosquitoes! I haven't had a serious attack of them since Copper Center, but tonight they were especially bad and we needed the head nets! Terrible clouds of them swarmed around our heads, torsos, arms, legs - nothing was sacred!

The end of the trip looms, and it seemed as if we were all getting a little different: sillier, quieter, more contemplative. There is a definite "group withdrawal syndrome" developing.

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Copyright (c) Judith J. Colwell, 1995. All rights reserved.