June 30

We arose early to get a start on a long day’s ride.  A gravel road is like riding twice the distance of a paved road.  Our goal was to make it up the Too Cutoff and back on the Alaska highway almost to Canada.  Even though there was a slight rain most of the night it was dry in the morning and the tents were not wet.  The road was in great shape and we had a ball.

It it surprising how many people live out here in the middle of nowhere.  I even grabbed a flyer for our retirement home; Sandy is going to love it.  This part of the state is easily the capital of sign shooting.  Nearly every sign is peppered with all manner of rounds.  I think I found the highest scoring sign yet; a 4 x 8 inch reflective marker at the entrance to a bridge over the Copper River.  It had one round dead center and two others within an inch, all the same size.  From a moving vehicle it is good shooting.  The river had many fishermen with their dip nets and even a few salmon wheels off in the distance.  It is hard to believe that the salmon can survive in this very silty water.

The Tok Cutoff is very scenic with the Wrangell mountains on the right.  It was a bit cloudy so we did not get to see the highest peaks but it was great nonetheless.  We did not stop in Glenallen for lunch and it turned out we should have.  The next lodge in Gakona is only open for dinner.  We snacked there and finally got a meal in Tok about 4PM.  From there we rode another 65 miles to a campground at Deadman Lake.

The campground was free and probably the nicest one we have shared.  We knew there was no water there so we let Tok with plenty.  The afternoon was warm and partly sunny and the camp setting was beautiful in the Boreal forest.  This type of forest has an amazing variety of plants and three different kinds of trees; black spruce, aspen and birch.  It is pretty dense where the conditions permit growth and some areas are just tundra.  I believe that the lake was formed when the glaciers melted and the permafrost holds the water.  I tried to coax a northern pike out of the reeds and lily pads by stripping some streamers with my fly rod but had no success.

I know my fisherman friends are probably disappointed that I have not been telling fish stories but there has not been that many ‘fishy’ places where I have had time.  The primary mission is riding and that is what I have been doing.  I promise to make some shit up about fishing next week.

The camp had a nice half mile trail on a raised wooden walkway that pointed out the different flora and fauna and ended in a platform looking out over the lake.  We sat there in the deafening silence and just marveled at the serenity of the place.  Once in a while a bird or a loon would break the silence.  A pair of Golden eagles flew by and gave us a sample of their aerial mating ritual; it was one of the moments in life that will forever remain in my memory.  I was also reminded of a time when I was going to an archery rendezvous with my son Nick and we took a long route through the Lockwood valley in the Los Padres National forest.  This area is one of the condor preserves and is very remote and a primitive forest.  I know it is where the dinosaurs are hiding out, I just have never seen one there yet.  Anyway, we stopped in the middle to water some plants and Nick remarked that it was the quietest place he had ever been and it made his ears hurt.  Being a city boy all of his eleven or twelve years he had never experienced such a thing.

The evening was amazing and was topped off by a rainbow out to the east from a storm far away that remained for a long time.  The place was magic and eventually we went off to bed.  The night actually got almost dark for the first time in a while.

What a fantastic day.  The best things in life are free; the next best things cost the most money.

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