Thursday, June 10, 2010

The northern end of the Taiya Inlet, just outside Skagway, Alaska. We had rented bikes to ride up into the hill behind Skagway, as we had heard that the views on the road back down were breathtaking. The idea was to walk the bikes up the forested hill to a paved road and then enjoy a leisurely coast back into town.

To start, the road was much farther up the hill than expected and there were few trail blazes to keep us on track as we carried our bikes up. As a result we kept thinking we must be going the wrong way and started searching side to side along the hill for the road which we eventually found by following some hikers that were going in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately by the time we found the road, we were getting close to being late coming back to our ship. So in the interest of time we chose to take the shorter, unpaved road back down to the city. All that we could glean from the tourist map was that we would need to make a left turn roughly half way from the bottom. It seemed simple enough as there appeared to be only one turn-off on that whole stretch of road. So, we happily took the first turn we came to, marveling at the great time we were making. Then we came to a dead end, but off to the side there was something resembling a dirt road, so we continued, confident that we would be out of the woods shortly. Then the dirt road turned into a dirt path which turned into a path covered in sticks and pine needles which led to an impenetrable net of branches. But in the distance! it appeared to be a continuation of the trail! We could have doubled back and looked for the right road but there was no time now, the only way was to find a path through the forest. So we dismounted and crawled under the tangled branches and dragged out bicycles after us. Now it was a matter of weaving between trees until we reached the trail. The closer we got to the trail along our winding route the more it looked to just be a short linear patch of dirt. When we were finally upon it, it turned out to be a steep drop-off further into a brown leafy abyss.

With pride swallowed we climbed back to the dirt road and pulled the twigs from the bikes spokes and chain. Sure enough, not more than 100 feet further down the road there was a nice paved turn off that led straight back to town. When we finally reached the bottom and approached the bridge that crossed over into Skagway we stopped to catch our breath and looked out at this view. While the journey had been misery, it had led us to something much more beautiful than we would have found on the regular road.

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