Day 7

8/7/95 - Monday
Route: Copper Center to Sourdough Campground
Lodging: Sourdough Campground
Mileage: 51 miles
Weather: Sunny all day long.


Another sunny dawn! This is a treat.

We made arrangements last night with the Copper Center Lodge for the 11 of us to have breakfast here. We wanted to experience first hand their reknown Real Alaska Sourdough Pancakes.

We explored a bit on our way out of Copper Center. An artist who maintains a "weekend place" here has decorated an old ramshackle boarded up outhouse with an entry way flower garden and a "City Hall" placard on the door. Other buildings are in a state of total disrepair and near collapse. We have seen a fair amount of this on our travels - weathered gray abandoned wood buildings which are left to the elements. Roofs sag, windows are gone, chinking is missing. The buildings literally are returning to the earth. Fire seems to claim many structures during the winter. Other buildings appear to die from pure neglect - owners who have gone broke and departed.

Today Rufus received a new (to him) bit of wardrobe attire. Someone found a very useful blue foam visor lying beside the highway. Ever vigilant for "roadkill" objects, it was retrieved and placed on Rufus' forehead. It matches his little bear overalls quite nicely, and does a good job of keeping the sun out of his eyes. It has an added benefit - it shades his fur minimizing his bleached fur problem. He does not aspire to be a golden bear. I surreptitiously watched one of the other riders patting his small furry head the other day. People love teddy bears.

There is such simple majesty in the scenery on this trip and particularly on this clear day.

As we pedaled away from Copper Center over the course of the day, Mt. Drum rotated around us from 1 o'clock to 5 o'clock before we lost sight of it. Cynics would say that we moved and the mountain was in a fixed position. It has a nice new mantle of snow (probably occurring on one of the days on which we were picking up rain) and is spectacular in its rounded form. It was an inspiration to watch as we headed up a short hill to return to the Richardson Highway after a short detour into Glennallen where we made a bike repair, bought food supplies, and, of course, sampled the hot chocolate and expresso drinks which were available outside of the grocery store. Alaska isn't immune to the Seattle influence of expresso carts.

Although we still aren't having many interactions with locals, tourists are fascinated with us. Every time we stop, en masse, to buy something (and especially at grocery stores), people migrate to our bikes. Tourists continue to approach us to find out where we were going and what we were doing (and, of course, WHY on earth would we be on a bike?!).

I have a slew of nasty bites along the nape of my neck and scalp line. They itch like crazy, and of course I am scratching. Others put on their mosquito net hats last night, but I neglected to. And I didn't put on enough DEET either. [Note: 35% DEET is the preferred formulation, according to a friend in the mosquito research field. It doesn't go into the fat layer under the skin as well at that concentration.] Somehow a few persistent gnawing critters found my soft pale underbelly and nibbled. I thought my clothes were tight along my waistline.

Sourdough Creek campground is a peaceful campground but rather exposed with its lack of trees except along the river and creek banks. There is no water available other than from the river. We have been filtering our water at each campground anyway, so this is no particular problem.

One of our group has bear repellent set up around his tent! His materials include:

Bright "Beware of Dog" sign attached to the entrance to his tent.
A yellow police "caution" ribbon surrounding the area of his campsite.
A neon pink address marker indicating that this is Flamingo Lane in Florida, where of course, no bears would go.
We observed no bears during the night, so his methods must be effective. I presume he'll share them with others in order to prevent unwanted grizzly visits.

The salmon fillets for dinner were inconveniently still solidly frozen when we arrived at camp. Although each chunk was about 1-1.5" thick and 3-4" square the cooks were able to get them sufficiently thawed by dinner to fry up. Large portions! There were enough slabs for everyone to be filled to the gills.

<- Table of Contents Day 8 ->

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