Getting back was no easy task because we had to take the same road. But we found our reward 100 miles south of Fairbanks, at Denali National Park where we saw the spectacular Mt. Mcinley, North America ́s tallest mountain. The athabascans call it Denali, which in their language means “The Great One”. If paradise exists, this place would be it. Here more than 400 species of animals share the land in harmony. Ten foot high grizzly bears walk freely with their cubs, wolves howl in the peaks, the lynx and the Dall sheep fade against the white capped mountains. The salmon jumps upstream to lay its eggs, the bald eagles search for their prey on land, and the red fox run after the snowshoe hares. More than 355 bird species live in this region. Wild life abounds thanks to man ́s stiff policies and the reinforcement of laws against hunting, fishing and excessive tourism. We were not able to ride the bike across the park because the exhaust gases, the noise and the dust affected this immaculate habitat.
South of Denail starts the “Last Great Race On Earth” the Iditarod, a 1047 mile long sled dog race across central Alaska to Nome, the most western city in the state. For several weeks expert mushers with their highly trained dogs compete in one of the harshest competitions in the world, experiencing temperatures of minus 45 degrees through mountains, valleys and frozen lakes. We were fortunate enough to meet Dewey Halverson, ten time competitor and three time winner. His lead dog, Spike barked at the motorcycle unceasingly. He’d never seen one! The man-animal relationship is so close that they live together since the dogs are born until one of the two dies. It is a lifetime of friendship with one great goal: winning.
We arrived at Anchorage, a city of 259,000 inhabitants and without doubt, Alaska ́s most thriving. The neon lights that announced the fast food restaurants, the sirens and the noise of a cosmopolitan metropolis, are an abrupt contrast with the peace and silence we had left a few hours behind. Anchorage is a prosperous port, with industry and culture, but with a large homeless population.
As we approached Prince William Sound, we had a close encounter with the ghost of the Exxon Valdez haunting each cove and inlet. Because of mankinds senselessness, millions of animal perished under the dark shadow of the oil spill. After Chernobyl this is the largest ecological disaster in our planet ́s recent history. Only now are the fauna and the flora coming back to life. In its waters the icebergs come loose from the majestic glaciers and move away into open sea with seals aboard taking their daily sun bath. That night, the same as every summer night, the sun kept shining.
We went back to Anchorage. We carefully packed the motorcycle in a pine crate with destination Colombia. After 10,000 miles it was time to say good by to paradise. We had bitten the forbidden fruit. We had tasted one of God ́s greatest gifts to man. We found out that Alaska is not only a place you visit. It is a feeling that you live and remember all your life.
Some say that once you go to Alaska you never come all the way back.
This adventure was contributed to Touratech USA by Miguel Lopez!
Country of birth : Colombia
Motorcycle: BMW R1200gs Adventure and BMW Paris Dakar pd 100
Trips: Alaska to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego on a BMW 1150 GSF, Madrid to Senegal via de Sahara desert, Mauritania and Mali, Northeastern USA, Western Europe,
Colombia, Ecuador , Peru, Chile and Argentina via de Amazon basin
Profession: Advertising and painter
Marital status: Divorced but with a beautiful girlfriend named Monica ( she didnt asked me to say that)!
Chidren: 2, one died in a motorcycle acciedent two years ago in Bogotá.
Actual status: happy if I have the chance to ride my motorcycle every day!!