The weather gods smiled on us for the run up to Prudhoe. What could have been four days of pure hell, instead were three days of pleasantly challenging riding and one toughie.
We were prepared for toughness, what we weren’t prepared for was the gobsmacking beauty of the place. The ride up to Atigun pass reminded me of the run from Haast township up to the Gates of Haast – just about 20 times bigger. The pass itself was magnificient, Himalayan-like ridges and peaks with snowdrifts along the roadside and tectonic cliffs.
Pushing through to the Northern side the Tundra was a whole new world. Sensually undulating mesas and valleys of pure green foliage, sprinkled with thousands of tiny shallow lakes the colour of gunmetal. And the horizon itself appearing to drop off the edge of the earth. And all the way the Alaskan pipeline keeping us company – along with huge roadtrain-like trucks.
We stopped for a midday boil up and the temperature was 25 degrees. But then as we headed out to the Arctic Sea the temperature change was phenomenal – a cool 3 degrees celcius as we rode into the industrial scar that is Deadhorse. Fortunately the warm dispositions of the people that make up this petroleum camp more than made up for it.
Then out to the Arctic Sea for the dip. The water wasn’t that bad – about 3 degrees – but coming out of the water was another story with windchill about 5 below. David Colin Wallace had the classiest entry – in the buff save for an NZ flag flying above his head as he ran headlong into the frigid waters. Tauranga – be proud.