Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alaska Exito. Heading South with my feathered friends...

The last couple weeks, before this last, were cold and rainy in Fairbanks. The big migratory birds; geese, swans, and sandhill cranes could be seen and heard gathering in Fairbanks. Their journey to the fertile arctic fulfilled for the season. The weather, though seemingly early, premature, had triggered the motion South. In my more rational human mind, I knew that Indian Summer would come. The leaves had yet to change and of course it was raining... The Tanana Valley State Fair was going on.  Even though I knew it was early, that strange archaic creaking and clicking of the Sandhills struck a familiar chord deep in my consciousness. Time to move. Time to migrate. 

With haste, I buttoned up my summer belongings, re-packed my travel kit, loaded my bike, gave long hugs to those that love me regardless of my inability to settle for more than six months at a time, and saddled up for another long migration south. 

The weather had come. Indian Summer brought 70's to Fairbanks, lots of sun, and now the leaves were popping!  A rush of color to boost the morale of those hardy folks who will button down and persevere the harsh cold and dark winter of the true North.  But they will revel in their grit. And they will celebrate their hardiness with those around them, through -40*F and ice fog so thick you can eat it from the air.  

And with a flurry of packing this and packing that and trying to remember this and take care of that... I left Fairbanks a mere two days later than planned.  Off to Canada... On a florescent lined highway of bursting arboreal color.  

Made Destruction Bay by dark.  Motel room at Talbot Arm, motorcycle friendly motel and restaurant, mediocre burger, mediocre beer... Welcome to Canada!  

Haha. Just kidding... You guys invented hockey.  Oh wait, maybe that was Minnesota!  Anyway. Bike is loaded, sun is up, coffee drank, time to ride... The beauty of Kluane Lake on a sunny fall day awaits me. Glorious Yukon Territory beckons. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 23 - Dharapani to Manang, Khangsar, Tanke Manang. To the end of the road...a

For anyone who was following along on this trip, I apologize for the delay.  I got sick in Kathmandu while wrapping up the blog posts and then caught a flight to Thailand.  I became so engrossed in my journey to Thailand that the blog posting fell by the wayside.

Here is a photo journal of the best day of riding in during my whole visit to Nepal.  

Every day riding in Nepal was an adventure.  And every day had moments of incredible.  But this day was a standout in so many ways.

8AM start to the day with a full warm belly of Tsampa Porridge w/ mountain apple and a pot of ginger tea.  I wondered how the cold Honda350R would fire up as I waited for a local jeep to finish loading up in front of the guesthouse.  Nothing like kick starting a 35°F thumper first thing in the morning.

The riding was immediately incredible as I left the little trekking outpost of Dharapani.  The road was an intermediately rough jeep road.  It was narrower than what I'd been riding the day before and I was picking up elevation rapidly.  The scenery was nothing short of spectacular.

I was climbing up to a Chame, where I was told would be my last available fuel.  And from there the road was supposed to level off and get a lot less rough.  One of the guesthouse guys that was getting blasted on Rakshi the night before had told me about the road and how it becomes smooth as a highway once I got past Chame.  The road wasn't terribly rough in this section but there were certainly technical sections that required choosing and committing to a line and keeping momentum through chewed up gravel, rock and sand.  As long as I stayed standing in the pegs and on the gas it all seemed to go by pretty smoothly.

I found a couple 55 gallon drums outside a fabric store in Chame and paid a hefty 250 Nepalese Rupees per liter.  I bought 5 liters which got me almost full.  Later as I'd burned through a good chunk of that fuel, I thought about how cheap 250 rupees would seem if I ran out up here.

The road did smooth out.  And I was definitely gaining elevation slower now.  Which was really good because I was approaching 10,000' above sea-level already.  This suspension bridge marked the point where the road really got good.  Just beyond this bridge the Nepalis were building a new bridge that would give access for Jeeps the rest of the way to Manang and beyond.

My first view of Pisang.  This monolithic monstrosity stopped me dead in my tracks.  Although it is hard to capture in a photo, it felt as though it could topple over on me or swallow me up at any moment.  This was one of the magical moments of the day where the soundtrack the road and the scenery blended perfectly.  I couldn't have been happier ripped the the Honda XR up this incredible track.

Do I even have to say anything?  So the weather...  the weather was perfect too.  The further I got up the mountain the less prayer wheels became replaced with sanskrit etched stone tablets.  Stunning.

And then just above this village the valley opened up to yet a completely different view.


Just incredible.  This is looking up the eastern side of the Annapurna range towards Thorung La Pass.

360° of jaw dropping beauty!

This was the regional Doctor that stopped by to have a chat with me.  He was on his way by foot back down valley from Manang just making his rounds.

A couple selfies just before Manang.

I took the road heading across the valley to the west to a small village of Khangsar. Until I dead-ended at permanent snow and ice blocking the way in the village.  Foot traffic only without a crew and some snatch gear.

I turned around here at Khangsar feeling very accomplished.  I was told it was not possible to ride to this village.  So needless to say I was pretty stoked.  The weather was incredible here and I was high up and feeling it now too.  The elevation of Khangsar is around 12,500' above sea level.

I rode up to Upper Manag to the end of the road there as well.  A giant patch of mud caused by a melting snow drift on a very steep grade was enough to stop me short of the village.  But I was rewarded with the view of this alpine lake.

I had some tasty Thukpa for lunch and a real LaVazza coffee in an Italian trekkers guesthouse.

Then it was time to blast back down to Dharapani in the waning daylight.  I really wanted to get back to Dharapani and stay at Three Sisters Guesthouse again.  If I could make it before dark it would leave me with a one big day back to Pokhara, tasty food and warmth back down out of the high Himalaya.

On the way down from Upper Manang I tagged a rock on a section of singletrack.  I thought it only hit my footpeg but when I went to shift, I saw that I'd wiped out the tip of the shift lever.  So with a piece of stick, a little tape and a boot lace, I fashioned what I hoped would get me all the way back to Pokhara.

The ride down was just as epic as the ride up but now the sun had dipped below the Annapurna ridge and life was getting chilly quickly.  I kept the throttle turned and the camera mostly in my pocket.  I still needed fuel again in Chame.  If the little fabric shop closed, I'd be spending the night there.

I made it in time... Got my barrel fuel and motored on into the darkening evening for Dharapani.

Another tasty made to order Dal Baht before crawling into my sleeping bag at 8:30 pm hoping to stay warm in the unheated and uninsulated wooden room.