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Author Topic: Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground  (Read 2478 times)

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Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« on: August 10, 2006, 07:26:51 am »
I wanted to combine a couple of rides into one report, as they show different aspects of the riding available in hatcher Pass. The pass itself is a path through the Talkeetna mountains connecting the towns of Willow and Palmer. Twisty pavement marks the first 20 miles or so, with gravel roads going through the main cut to Willow, and mining roads branching off from the main road.

We made a ride on a Thursday evening to show a rider from the lower 48 (or "America" as we playfully call it up here) the pass. One of the riders, "AKPhotog" on advrider, is a gifted photographer. There is a video of the ride up, yes, I'm the dork with his turn signal going  :wink:  .



This picture is his work, not mine, all I did was ride the bike. As  I said, he's good!



And the artist himself at work. He rides a VStrom likes a house on fire.



The guy trying to chew his glove off is Tim, the IronButt guy who rode his KLR up from Florida and all over the country. He has marmite cans and a Corbin seat, a few farkles, but mostly the KLR is pretty stock. I took this shot while the white haired gentlemen approached us, basically to tell us to go away...we were trespassing, AKPhotog though it was OK but it was not! We apologized and left in an orderly fashion, heckuva view from up there though. A great weekend place!



We met again at the high point of the pass, about a 3900 foot (1300 meters?) elevation. This photo was taken at a quarter to 10 in the evening, we're still getting a lot of daylight even in August but in 6 weeks or so that will change. Best to enjoy it while we can.




Some folks use the pass for purposes other than dual sport riding...I know, hard to believe, sad but true! This guy was paragliding with his dog, I can only imagine the view from up there in the canopy. If I ever need another dangerous and expensive hobby, paragliding sounds like a good one.



I don't worry about avalanches this time of year, although they do occur in the winter. The pass gets a lot of snow, like 3 or 4 meters on the ground, and I sometimes get off my arse and go cross country skiing here.



From here you can see the Matanuska and Knik river valleys, and on a clear day, Pioneer Peak, Twins Peaks and mt. POW-MIA. Just an artistic touch of cloudyness today.



The cross country skiing I was talking about mostly happens down in that valley, the Gold Mint trail system. The glacier that feeds the Little Susitna river is in there, as well as  the Gold Mint mine.




I apaologize for the weather-you should see the place on a sunny day!
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 07:53:06 am »
Summit Lake was my next stop on Monday's ride. You can see the road leading off to the right, we're going to follow that road, up to the little willow creek headwaters, to visit one of the few mines that are still open to the public. Most of the mine shafts have been blasted closed to keep people from wandering inside....I don't have that problem, since I won't go more than about 2 steps inside before the creeps take over and drive me back out.




End of the trail, at least the public access, little willow creek valley. You might be able to make out the gate, about 2 o' clock from the Pegaso, which blocks the road to the still active mine.





Would you take your bike up that trail?  :D





PS-the correct Alaska answer is "No, but I'd take yours.....  :P  )

And the mine shaft itself. This is as far as I go inside...and I went in further than I usually do, just for my new friends in SA. One thing you can say about this place - "it's a gold mine!"



After the mining adventure, I turned right again and headed for the Craigie Creek trail. A couple of the local Alaska advrider had taken this trail a year or so back and I wanted to go farther than we had last time. Unfortunately, gravity had other plans for me that afternoon...



...foiled by a stupid rock right at the exit point, knocked my front tire right out from under me. I had just about enough time to say "S*** I'm going down" and then I was picking myself up out of the mud... :roll:  . No injury, but broke the shifter on the Peg, and jammed the footpeg nicely up so I couldn't stand up on the pegs. Obviously, continued exploration was probably inadvisable, so I turned around here. One big mudhole was enough, given my previous experience that day.



I did stop for a photo at this beaver dam. This one is still active, the big pile of sticks in the middle of the lake is the lodge where the beavers live.



They are truly busy little critters....and they can be a pest if you live close to the water. They will gnaw down some rather large trees and they don't ask permission first. Some folks lose expensive ornamental trees to the beavers, you have to wrap the trunk in chicken wire to keep the beavers at bay.

One last picture on the way home. The purple flowers are fireweed, which grows everywhere here in Alaska.



So I traded a buch of great photos and a good days ride for a Pegaso shift lever, i think I did OK on that deal.  8)  If any of you guys get over here to Alaska, put hatcher Pass on your must-see list..because you must.
 

Offline Grootseun

Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2006, 08:03:13 am »
Great report and pics Gnomad...Wow... it looks cold even in Summer!!! I think i will gice alaska a skip... dont take too well to cold weather....Well done once again.
 

shark_za

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2006, 08:06:27 am »
Thanks man, nice to see you guys showing the KLR around.

I see once you got the indicator off you acted like a clown for the camera, dont we all   ;)

If I had to live in the cold and in the wet as well, I would do more than gnaw down trees !    Cool to see critters we dont get over here.

And that trail, you bet I would give it a try!   Might have to slid around the switchbacks, will be even more fun going down !
 

Offline JourneyMan

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2006, 08:38:42 am »
Absolutely stunning pics! Thanks Gnomad.

"Lekker" (Afrikaans for Good/Nice/Awesome) trails there.
He who angers you, controls you.
 

Kev

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2006, 09:46:29 am »
I grew up with books all about the Alaska, the Yukon, the gold rush... and of course White Fang! Nice to see the places through local eyes. Thank you. :thumbup:
 
Have you see any "White Fangs" or "Balto" about? :geek:
 

Offline Lito

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2006, 10:47:30 am »
Gnomad, you are making my insides go crazy man!!!! WOW What stunning scenery.

Truly, you have one of the wonders of the world there.

I must go ride there. MUST!

Also - yes, hehe, I'd like to try that hill zigzag thing tho. Are you allowed to? Looks kinda challenging though - phew!
 

Offline X Banana Boy

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2006, 02:59:51 pm »
First pics looks cool.  the rest are red X's  :cry:
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2006, 01:07:48 am »
Quote from: "Lito"


Also - yes, hehe, I'd like to try that hill zigzag thing tho. Are you allowed to? Looks kinda challenging though - phew!


The gate blocks access to the switchback...I'm going to say that riding up there would be easy enough, the gate is really nothing more than keeping honest men honest. Riding there would be an "individual decision", it is private property and for now I'm going to respect that.

The day I'm up there and the gate is gone, though, I think I'm going for a ride. Can't be much worse than the Stelvio, right?
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2006, 01:20:26 am »
Quote from: "Kev"
I grew up with books all about the Alaska, the Yukon, the gold rush... and of course White Fang! Nice to see the places through local eyes. Thank you. :thumbup:
 
Have you see any "White Fangs" or "Balto" about? :geek:


Did you see my Dawson ride report, or any of the Dawson thread at "Great White North" ? The Taylor Highway runs through Fortymile country, Eagle is a side trip from Chicken, the whole Klondike loop is accesible from Dawson. As a fellow Jack London fan, I really recomend Dawson-they even have his cabin, as well as Robert Services.

As for White Fang,when I was  about 10 years old I encountered 2 wolves while walking home from school. I walked around the corner and there they were, I lokked at them, they looked  at me, and they turned and disappeared like phantoms. I wondered at the time if I had really seem them, they disappeared so quickly and quiestly.

Balto is easy-I'm in recreational sled dog country. Iditarod Headquarters is right down the road from me....

 

Offline wino

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2006, 07:21:29 am »
awesome pics man! pity you coulc not go exploring more.
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2006, 08:45:27 am »
Here's a couple more pictures-I use fotothing and I only get to upload 10 pictures a day, cuz I'm cheap.  8)

Carigie Creek trail, a short distance towards civilaztion from where I dropped the Pegaso.



A closer view of the beaver lodge. Not nearly as glamorous as African wildlife, nobody gets killed and eaten by beavers.



This a also a beaver pond, but I didn't see any sign of them in here. It may be a secondary pond, beavers do some interesting flood control engineering sometimes-or they got bored.



What appear to be landslides are actually tailing piles. The miners extracted buckets of gold bearing rock, crushed it, ran it through a concentrator and dumped the lighter rock into these piles. They missed some of the gold-run enough of the tailings through a sluicebox and you'll come up with gold, but expect to work very hard for very little.



In the background you can see the buildings that are the Independence mine state park. For 5 bucks you get to wander around the area, they have a lot of the old buildings restored with the equipment installed. It was like a small city here, back then it was 25 miles to any kind of town and the road was a trail. Most of the supplies were brought in during thw winter, when snow cover made for easier transportation. It was an impressive operation back in the late 20's to WW2, when gold mining was declared a non essential industry and the mines were closed down.

 

Offline funacide

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2006, 09:19:38 am »
Really beautiful pics, thanks for sharing, maybe I need to plan a visit to your beautiful country....
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Offline greenmamba

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2006, 10:00:33 am »
Beautiful pictures, I grew up seeing so many documentarys on Alaska that it is on my "list of places to go before I die"
quot;Nothing worthwhile is easy"
 

Kev

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2006, 10:42:26 am »
Quote from: "Gnomad"

Did you see my Dawson ride report, or any of the Dawson thread at "Great White North" ?

Iditarod Headquarters is right down the road from me....

 
I follow anything connected to Alaska on ADV. The place appeals a lot to me. I have often said to the wife: If I was still single, and had no commitments, I would uproot and and transplant to Alaska. For people wanting to be "off the grid", it is the place to be.
 
I am a big Iditarod fan, and follow the race through the Net. Amazing what those guys (and girls!!) go through.

If I get the chance to go to Alaska, I want to go in winter. I know, I am crazy! I love the cold and snow!!  :D  And then I have to go in summer... just to go see it all again!
 

Offline krazy-eyes

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2006, 11:09:57 am »
paragliding you say?
heres one of me on the Transkei coast.
nice report. that mine looks haunted or somethin... :shock:
 

Offline Leo

Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2006, 11:23:43 am »
Beautifull country Gnomad.

Awesome reposrt & pics.  :wink:
Grey Haired Riders Don't get that way from pure luck!
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2006, 05:38:12 pm »
Quote from: "Kev"
Quote from: "Gnomad"

Did you see my Dawson ride report, or any of the Dawson thread at "Great White North" ?

Iditarod Headquarters is right down the road from me....

 
I follow anything connected to Alaska on ADV. The place appeals a lot to me. I have often said to the wife: If I was still single, and had no commitments, I would uproot and and transplant to Alaska. For people wanting to be "off the grid", it is the place to be.
 
I am a big Iditarod fan, and follow the race through the Net. Amazing what those guys (and girls!!) go through.

If I get the chance to go to Alaska, I want to go in winter. I know, I am crazy! I love the cold and snow!!  :D  And then I have to go in summer... just to go see it all again!


My handle is "KL5A" over at advrider, as if the blue Pegaso wasn't enough of a clue...

Winter is a great time to visit. Sure it can be cold, but you can dress for that. The best aspect of winter is the mobility. You wouldn't get very far on the Iditarod trail in  the summer, but get it frozen and with some decent snow cover you can get a snowmobile (or dog team) all the way to Nome and beyond. If I could figure out the fuel drops, I could go from my front door to Nome, might take a couple of weeks but would be a heckuva trip!

Snowmobiling is plain silly fun. Unless you get stuck and spend the night out on the sled and see wierd stuff in the sky....then it's interesting!
 

Offline Gnomad

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Hatcher Pass, southcentral Alaska's DS playground
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2006, 05:41:14 pm »
Quote from: "krazy-eyes"
paragliding you say?
heres one of me on the Transkei coast.
nice report. that mine looks haunted or somethin... :shock:


Having watched the guys in Hatcher Pass do it, I've been intrigued. OTOH, one guy did get killed a few years back, an unexpected gust slammed him into the mountain, not sure if he was wearing a helmet but they all do now! They were figuring about $2K for the rig and $500 for lessons when I talked to them last. Looks to be large fun.  :D