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Showing posts from September, 2009

September I'm in love, still

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Frost-crusted silt crunched under our boots as we walked along the Mendenhall Lake shoreline. It was nearly midnight; the sky was washed in stars; the orange tint of the setting moon cast a warm glow over the water, sparkling with the night. Mountains cut massive silhouettes through the encompassing shimmer. I glanced upward in wonder, startled by the simple vastness of the moment, sandwiched as it was between two mundane workdays.

We lingered late by the fire and set up camp atop a thickening layer of frost. I own but one truly warm sleeping bag. It's rated to 40 below zero - my favorite piece of gear. I curled up in my own private mountain of 800-fill down, billowing heat and perfect comfort, lulled to sleep by the vast simplicity of life.

We were up at sunrise, a direct consequence of the mundane demands of a Tuesday, but the world stayed still for a moment, frozen in ice.

First snow, first frost - the drum beat toward winter. It makes me feel excited and anxious, content and …

September I'm in love

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As a general rule, Juneau has "two months that just suck," also known as the rainy season - September and October. One of my largest apprehensions about returning here a couple months ago was that my fourth fall in Southeast Alaska was quickly approaching, and I faced the reality of enduring a swath of changes beneath a mood-dampening ceiling of liquid gray.

Then September came in a rush of mountains, flickering windows of sunlight and brilliant color. I feel like nearly every day offered something exciting and new, familiar and reflective. All the right moments came at all the right times. I'm a bit blissed out on the whole month right now, exhausted and just about ready for the crushing rain of October to force me to take a break - but not quite.

I woke up early Monday morning to take John to the airport, leg muscles still tender, nursing a large cup of the "high octane" tar water from the Breeze-In. But the day was nice ... the cloud ceiling was high ... there…

Fall Tour

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I haven't had a chance to post my pictures for a couple of days. It was a whirlwind tour and it's been a whirlwind since, but I have a few minutes to breathe as I wait to pick up a friend at the airport on a frosty clear fall morning.

The Golden Circle, which is actually shaped more like a broken triangle, is a 370-mile route of connecting roads between Haines and Skagway, Alaska, two towns that are geographically only about 20 miles apart. I'd done the ride twice before, once in each direction, and this year invited my friend John from Connecticut to join me on what is becoming my annual fall tour. He was able to secure a tight window before a business trip and scheduled the six connecting flights it takes to get here from the East Coast. We were on the ferry within hours of his arrival.

I was apprehensive about this trip because it really is a long distance, with climbing, to cover in three days on a loaded bike. In the past, I've trained specifically for this trip. …

See SPOT ride

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This post is for the benefit of my family mostly, but I will be carrying the blinking paperweight known as SPOT around the Golden Circle this weekend. If you want to follow along with the trip, you can click on my SPOT Shared page, which should begin updating at about 11 a.m. Thursday.

I was hoping to catch the 1:15 a.m. ferry out of Juneau, but late deadlines at the Empire and last-minute bike stuff will probably force us to grab the 8 a.m. ferry instead. That means a late night into Haines Junction, or a possible bivy in the cooking shelter at the Million Dollar Campground at mile 98. SPOT will share all.

I'm pretty nervous about this trip. It's almost an understatement to say I haven't done much biking since the Tour Divide. I'm a little uncertain if I've logged 370 miles since July 16, and I'm facing that ma…

Circling the edge of the neverending

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Wow ... it's been four days since I posted last. The truth is, I haven't been doing anything. Well ... that's completely untrue. I haven't been riding ... or hiking ... or running. That's a true story. And now here I sit on the eve of the eve of my third annual Golden Circle tour, something that I am completely undertrained for. But that doesn't really matter. That's life. And right now, it's the kind of life that's really best just to roll with.

I've been digging through last year's Golden Circle posts, hoping I'd convince myself the ride was easier than I remember it being. I came across this paragraph from Sept. 24, 2008, that struck me, for both its parallels and its premonitions:

"When Geoff told me he registered to run the Bear 100 this weekend, he said he mostly just wanted a good, hard effort with the alone time he needed to think about his future. I told him that's the same reason I wanted to ride around the Golden Circle…

Grandchild awesomeness

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Ever have one of those days when everything works out perfectly? Like when you go to Safeway to buy cheap sushi, and they have exactly one pack of California rolls left, and exactly two packets of soy sauce remaining in the bin? Or when your avid alpine junkie friend Dan is in town for exactly one day in five weeks, and the weather has called for a 90 percent chance of rain, and you wake up to fog and go anyway, and you get, well, let me show you ...

I posted a borderline obnoxious number of pictures today, but I feel justified in indulging myself because I'm pretty sure it is probably the awesomest bundle of photographs I have ever taken.

We decided to head up the Grandchild Peaks trail. There is something mysterious and almost secretive surrounding this trail. It's not on any Juneau map that I have seen. Its entrance isn't marked in any way. Few people I've talked to about it have even heard of it. The ones who have, haven't been there. Dan, who has lived in Sout…