“Fancy kayaking uris Tracy Arm, and spending the night?” Jason asked me and our mate Josh, an experienced whitewater kayaker with a quiet gravitas about him. This won’t be a day at the beach like itaddling across the lake to Mendenhall Glacier, I was promptly informed. Tracy Arm is a narrow fjord 50 miles southeast of Juneau leading to Sawyer Glacier. There are zero rangers in attendance; it is deep in the Alaskan wilderness. “Okay, let’s do it—what’s the worst that could happen?”
Yup. It’s been a while. Stark raving mad-as-a-box-of-frogs, the radio silence is o-v-e-r. “Delighted” is a weak term; I’m finally able to relieve the itchy feet as we hit the road again. From late summer last year right through to the onset of spring based in Alberta’s Narnia, this summer found us back in Southeast Alaska—trigger-happy on the humpbacks, (Sony style). U.S. visa expiry and friendship renewal have led us full circle. Fortunate to write the backstory from May 2017 in the comfort of the Stowasis, it’s overwhelming to know how to pack it all in. But pack it in, I will.
Having far from satisfied our fix of Juneau in Southeast Alaska last summer, and fortuitously invited back—courtesy of a Fishhook Fatty hooking us up with a fellow biker—it didn’t take long to make preparations. Namely pack the panniers and head south to the ferry.
But only made possible thanks to Ian and Kristina, who tirelessly took us and the bikes in their truck on a 1,250-mile return trip. Blimey, that’s a long way in one day, guys! “Going the extra mile” is a weak term for how the Goodwins went above and beyond. Heck, it’s very possibly the understatement of our 3 year trip to date. And thus, avoiding the need for us to motorcycle over the snow-choked high pass to Haines and instead, safely make tracks onto rideable road. Thank you, both, dearly.
What had begun to feel like a protracted ice age—having spent half a year in a landscape leached of colour—followed the joyous onset of spring in Wasilla, Southcentral Alaska. Where the dominion of winter finally permits the release of snow and ice from her frozen prison. A new world about to mysteriously surface, bursting with energy, and the capacity to restore life in all its manifestations.
The thought of halting our trip was completely untenable. Coming up to three years in maintaining a steady momentum, why would we stop now? Yet staying a few nights over late summer at Nevil and Michelle’s place merged rapidly into a fortnight, which fused at equal speed into a few weeks, that somehow extended into autumn with: “Well, you might as well stay until spring. The weather’s going to catch you out any day now, and I think it’d be fun for you to spend winter here with us in Alberta.” The birds were busy in the trees, and the air still gave promise of warm if not mild days to come. Five months later and through the inexhaustible dictates of the warmest hospitality—notwithstanding the coldest winter we’ve experienced to date—we’ve become strong contenders for the “Longest lodger” status at the Stowasis.
A turn in the weather whistled a bolt of cold over my body, goose-fleshing as we journeyed towards Jasper and Banff in Canada’s Alberta province. Cold inquires at first investigated the tips of my fingers, chin and nose, feeling their sharp little claws sink in when my gums were no longer warm. What did I expect from alpine towns—amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies—revelling in their own microclimates.