Our cycling days continue, the weather is better than good, we bought enough food and our butt pains are slowly ebbing away. Yes, there's only good news in this blog!
We set off after two rest days with Andrew, Eva, Vojta and Rosie. Our very first and VERY welcoming WarmShowers host. So, Andrew and Eva, if you are reading this, we really loved it with you guys, you have a very beautiful home and two lovely children! You've set the bar pretty high for future WarmShowers hosts.
From Fairbanks we take the Parks highway south. Our legs are pretty well rested, we were even excited to be cycling again (especially after our Dalton highway debacle). The Parks highway is the main connection between Fairbanks and Anchorage, so naturally there's a lot of traffic going on. The good thing though, it's all paved so it rides a little faster. Other than that it was pretty uneventlfull, but maybe thats a good thing?
The Parks highway brings us to Denali, the next big thing on our bucket list. We found the Riley creek campground on our trusty MAPS.ME app, pitched our tent and made our way to the visitor center. You can tell that it's pretty touristy over there, but thats ok. Every once in a while we want to be tourists too, not just crazy cyclist people.
Our plan for Denali: take the bus in, cycle out and enjoy the beautiful landscapes. So that is what we did. A two hour bus ride with some interesting commentary from the driver takes us halfway into the park. We start our day ride (without panniers, which feels very weird at first) towards the parks exit. On the way in we saw lots of Cariboo standing in the distance. While cycling out, we turned a corner and started a long descent. Somewhere in the distance we saw something coming towards us. Our first thought: wow, cool another cyclist. But it wasn't. It was a big Cariboo casually following the road. We remembered the instructional video about approaching wildlife and what to do, but it didn't teach us anything about Cariboo. So we applied the instructions for a Moose (which are waving your arms and talking loudly). But it kept coming closer and closer. Until it just walked past us, like it didn't even see us...
So imagine this. You did a beautiful day ride in the sun, of course with lots of headwind so you've been sweating all day. Adrenaline still pumping from a near death Cariboo walk-by. You come to your camp site and all you want to do is take a nice shower and wash away your struggles. Too bad, the showers only have cold water today and costs 4,5 USD. What do you do?
After Denali National Park, the Parks highway takes us a little more south to the beginning of the Denali highway. And oh man, this was a good decision! We turned away from the busy paved highway and came onto a less traveled gravel road with a beautiful scenery. From the highway, the valley stretched far beyond and at the end of it: beautifully white mountain tops. While riding we pass uncountable rivers and lakes, we even saw a bald eagle! There are some campgrounds along the Denali highway, we stayed at the Brushkana creek Campground. Not really knowing that we had to pay, we pitched our tent, made dinner, took a "shower" in the river and chilled on the river shore. All off a sudden a park ranger showed up and made us aware that we needed to pay, only cash, no spare change... So we started to ask around if someone could change a 20 dollar bill. A very nice couple just offered us the 12 dollars. People are so nice up here! After that it was smooth sailing untill the end of the Denali highway, we almost didn't want it to end...
We don't know if you noticed, but our last showers was right at the beginning of this blog. Seven days have passed and we are starting to notice it. So with all our powers we start looking for an affordable accomodation with a shower. That brought us to the Red Eagle Lodge, a beautiful campground/cabins/... where we pitched our tents and ran into the showers. Thats also where this blog was written.
Tonight we'll socialise with the people wo are staying here too, maybe have a few beers and rest our legs. Tomorrow we continue towards Tok and we'll start the Alaskan highway towards Canada.