Sunday, January 10, 2010

Riding a frozen river in Alaska

A few days ago Bill, our friend Dan and I rode a frozen river near our cabin.
In the summertime this river is a Class III whitewater stream.
Only in Alaska I thought can you ride a fast flowing river like this one.
You have to pick your time of year when to go on this river and of course you need a snowmachine trail to follow. Just because a snowmachine or severalsnowmachines had been up and down this river doesn't mean it is safe on your bike as well. They move a lot faster even though they are heavier than you on your bike, but we move along much slower.
There were several places of overflow that were still wet and still growing that we had to wade through with our Neos overboots. Neos overboots seem to be the choice of boot for many Alaskan winter cyclist.
They are warm, waterproof and have gaitors attached in case you step into deep snow.

On this river there are sections of trail on a narrow ledge where the river stays open due to the fast current and you ride next to gushing cold water. In other places you have to detour around sections that have caved in since the last snowmachine rode over it.
During the course of the winter the water on rivers drops from underneath the ice and creates hollows under the ice and sometimes parts of the ice cave in.

In one place the route used by snowmachines didn't look good and we saw an ice bridge that a small fox had used. We followed it and it turned out it was a good route.
But we all thought light and it turned out the ice bridge was solid.

In other places the water keeps splashing up against the ice and forms ice chandelliers, they are really pretty.
In some places the river canyon is narrow and there are beautiful ice falls.

In many ways these river rides keep you on your toes, you are constantly trying to pick a safe route, watching splashing cold water run right alongside of your trail and watch fascinating ice formations and animal tracks.
That day we saw fox, river otter, wolf and moose tracks.

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