Monday, February 11, 2008

Riding the Chickaloon River

We have been busy with organising the big event and getting our own stuff ready, so we haven't really had much time to ride. We also needed some stress relieve and do a fun ride. Bill and I decided to give one of our favorite winter rides in our backyard a try, since there was a chance the trail was packed enough after some snowmachine traffic on the Chickaloon River. In the summertime the Chickaloon is a remote Class III rafting trip without road access. It originates deep in the Talkeetna Mountains and flows at a fast pace into the Matanuska River.
Since it is such a fastmoving little stream it usually doesn't freeze solid enough until late January/early February.
It is a neat place to ride with all kinds of cool things to see, beautiful mountains in both directions and ice ledges and ice bridges to cross.The trail was a little windblown in the beginning from the strong Matanuska valley winds we have been having for days now, but then rideable with Fat tires. The Chickaloon freezes over differently every year, in places there is only a small ice ledge you can cross. In other places where there was once a trail the ice has caved in and other places you ride on frozen overflow. It is never boring on the Chickaloon, you look down into clear running water or frozen chandelliers. In a windswept place the colour of the ice was aquamarin, so beautiful you would want to chisle out a piece to take it home. Further up the river there are some pretty ice falls. At mile 9 there is a place called the "narrows" that is often impassable. Last year the ice ledges from the first freez up at higher water were way over our head. After crossing a big mound of overflow ice we wandered on up to check them out, and the ice had caved in where the last snowmachines had crossed and was overflowing and refreezing. But it looked like the new ice was only about 1-2 inches thick. So we turned around there. Another spot had snowmachines tracks on both sides and the centerpiece had fallen in, about 3-4 feet of air, then gushing water.
In places we were pushing our bikes across jumbled up ice and you could hear the hollow spaces underneath or rushing water. When you are riding on the cold snow most times you can't hear those sounds, but when you take a minute and stop it is quite exciting to hear the water rushing just underneath where you're standing.
Some places where the ice is sagging it is really not an option to stop.
All the drainages to the Matanuska River are beautiful, but the Chickaloon is one of the few you can actually explore for quite a ways up in the wintertime.
And we never see anyone, that rides those trails. We wouldn't mind to see other folks on bikes or skiing out there.
Enjoy the pictures, it was a cloudy day with flat light but they still tell the story.


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