Saturday, March 03, 2012

Beat heads into the Burn

After twelve hours of driving across 700 miles of scenic nothingness, we settled in to a barrage of homemade pizza and frenetic conversation with friends. Just before midnight we heard a rumor about Northern Lights, so we loaded up again and headed into the hills above Whitehorse. We danced and struck silly poses beneath shimmering waves of light. Since the colorful flares spread out from a point far beyond the sky, I knew there was a chance Beat could see the same show I was seeing. I found comfort in that realization, even though we're now separated by hundreds of empty miles and the greater divide between my comfortable fun and Beat's difficult journey.

Beat called from Rohn at 6:30 p.m. Friday. He made great time on the trek over the Alaska Range on Rainy Pass, crossing 45 miles of steep climbs and the dramatic Dalzell Gorge in fourteen hours. This same section of trail took me 27 hours to traverse in 2008. The current race leader, Geoff, took twelve. Geoff was the first to leave Rohn, about two hours before lead bikers Pete and Phil. Beat took a nap and was the ninth competitor to leave remote checkpoint, about twelve hours after Geoff. He said the trip down from the pass was unbelievably gorgeous and the weather improved. Since the sky had cleared, he was hoping for a glimpse of the aurora as he hiked into vast expanse of the Farewell Burn.

The latest update came Saturday morning at 7:30. Beat bivied overnight near Egypt Mountain as temperatures plummeted and the wind increased. Cold feet woke him up several times and he estimated it was about 20 below, but he was able to catch some needed sleep. He sounded upbeat in the morning, and said his feet were fine after he warmed them up again. His plan for Saturday was to continue through the remnant foothills of the Alaska Range, into the Burn, and stop for the night at the Bear Creek cabin, which is about 30 miles away from the village of Nikolai, 300 miles into the course. He said it was still cold but the wind had calmed. There have been reports of deep snow drifts on the trail ahead, so progress may be more difficult for him on this section than it was over the mountains.

I'm hoping to hear from Beat tonight from a warmer, comfier spot. He's healthy and moving well, now nearly six days into this journey.

5 comments:

  1. Yay Beat!!! Have fun biking.

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  2. I'm glad that things eased up for him, even if just temporarily. Enjoy Whitehorse, it is such a cool place :)

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  3. Helen2:37 PM

    Fantastic that he is more confident. Just LOVE those Northern Lights!

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  4. Impressive colours up in the Northern sky. I wish I could see them some day... But in the meantime, thanks for sharing! ;)

    Best wishes from Catalonia.

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  5. Awesome news, on both guys!

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