Monday, June 23, 2008
Solstice Weekend - Crescent Lake
As part of the Bon Ton Roulette, a two stage mountain bike race/ride down on the Kenai, we biked up to Crescent Lake friday night. We started at Tern Lake, just off of the Seward and Sterling Highway intersection, biked along a dirt road for 5 miles and then headed up the 6 miles of singletrack to Crescent Lake.
The trail winds up through the forest, switching back several times, and eventually opening up to the tundra ending at Crescent Lake. The ride back down was amazing, but nerve racking because I spotted a few piles of fresh bear scat along the way. I was behind everyone else naturally and knew that once I saw the last group coming down, that I would be on my own for the rest of the ride.
There were a lot of blind corners and really loud rushing rivers that made it the perfect scene for surprising a bear. So I sang the whole way. I probably wasted a lot of energy, but you always hear those stories about how people stopped making noise and that is the very moment they came upon a bear on the trail. I figured if I never stopped making noise, that would never happen.
The ride back on the dirt road was a bit tortuous. Partly because there were so many hills, that I didn't remember coming down, and partly because I knew everyone else was finished by now. I tried to power my way up the first few hills, but quickly realized that was a bad idea. I had to go slow and steady up the hills to the finish.
I stopped yelling for a bit and don't you know, I heard this huge "Whoosh!" in the trees. Some very large animal was surprised by me and ran away. Maybe it was a moose, but they don't generally get scared and start running at the sight of people. I honestly don't want to know what it was.
I arrived back at the campsite, completing the 23 miles, to everyone cheering, probably relieved that no one had to volunteer to go out and look for me. :) I finished in 3 hours and 28 minutes. I found out later that the guy who came in first saw a giant 800 pound grizzly bear on the trail, somewhere near the pile of bear scat. I think it's funny how people try to estimate the weight of bears that they see just to emphasize the story. For some reason an "800 pound grizzly bear" sounds scarier than just "a bear". Anyway, my paranoia was justified.
Pictures were downloaded from Akspokes.com