Alaska is...Different

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Words and photos by Brian Ohlen   @spoke_n_fly

When people from “outside” (that’s what Alaskans call lower 48’ers) hear that I live in Alaska, they inevitably ask, “What’s Alaska like?” More often than not, my answer is simply “it’s different.”  There really isn’t a better word for it. There simply isn't another place that can be compared to it. It’s not that Alaska is better, it's just very different.

For example, take my last bike ride. A casual morning of coffee and burritos got us down the road and to the trailhead by 10am. A mixed surface of snow, ice, open water and glacial moraine led us ten miles up a broad valley. Moose tracks and snowshoe hare prints were as common as fat tires and footprints. The beaten path mostly followed along the river, with most of the riding surface being terra firma. Occasionally, there was a need to cross the frozen river. The nervous rush of open water only 50 yards from the commonly travel path encouraged us to pedal even faster. There's something about the sound of H2O in its water form that makes ice a little more unsettling. I couldn't help but imagine the horrible results of breaking through the ice into a swift-moving glacial river.

The lake that lies at the base of Knik glacier is frozen. Very frozen. Dozens of icebergs now lie locked in place, randomly scattered around the otherwise flat plane of ice. The glacier extends in two directions as far as the eye can see. Bush planes buzz overhead, occasionally landing on the ice. A group of Jeeps arrive and proceed to spin donuts, then pose their jacked 4x4s on the icebergs. We pedal further across the lake, jumping over a crack in the ice that showed open water below.

Just an average ride. Alaska is straight-up different.

 

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