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Part 1: Mountain Man Rendezvous:
Epic Cycling Adventure in Alaska

By Frosty Wooldridge
Exclusive To

During our worldwide journeys around the globe, we've come across a number of epic moments during our cycling travels.  Some of them profound, some of them hysterical, some of them scary and some of them rich beyond measure.

Around the planet, yes, the Patagonia's enthralled.  The Outback cooked us.  China overwhelmed us.  Asia saddened us.  Europe captured our hearts.  And, Antarctica, well, it froze our butts off.

But you seldom hear about cycling to Alaska.  Yes, some have ridden from the Arctic Ocean to the bottom of South America. We've ridden much of that journey ourselves.  Others have ridden from the states to the Arctic Circle on the Dalton or Dempster Highways.  That's what we did!  Stories, well, I could write another book on our escapades into the roaring wilderness of Alaska.

This chapter needs a little airing into the cycling world.  It's got a few twists, turns and 'moments'.

After pedaling through Tok, Alaska, on Route 1 with the Wrangell Mountains soaring into the sky along the road, we headed into Glennallen. Always, the sun hung in the sky to provide 24/7 daylight. Thus, "The land of the midnight sun."

Mind you, every mile of the journey we watched for grizzly bears, moose and black bears.  At camp, we practiced the 300-foot rule: eat in one spot, camp 300 feet away and hang the food 300 feet from camp.  Otherwise, you would most assuredly find yourself in the middle of a grizzly bear visit at any moment.  How do I know?  On this trip, I woke up on the Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula to see a big grizzly not five feet from my tent mosquito screen.  I smelled his stinky breath and body.  He stared right into my face...ah, but that's another story. Thankfully, I lived, so I can tell it at another time.

Route 1 followed a winding tree-lined road with mountains in the distance.   A clear, slow gliding river followed us alongside the highway.  Late in the afternoon, we saw a sign along the highway that read "Mountain Man Rendezvous." 

Off in the bush, two men walked down a dirt road.  I waved to my brother to stop along the roadside.

          "You see those two guys wearing buckskin leathers walking into the woods?" I asked. "They're headed for a string of horses."

          "Let's go back and see what's going on," Rex said.  "What's a 'rendezvous' anyway?"

          "It's French for 'a meeting place for people,'" I said. "Whatever it is, it could be interesting.  Those guys are wearing leathers, but you're right, I only see horses in their camp."

          We pedaled back to the dirt road that led off the ­highway and into the woods.  We reached a clearing where a ­group of bearded men stood around a fire pit. Women wore leather outfits all decorated with beads and feathers.  Stew simmered in a large black kettle that hung from a tripod over the flames.  Coffee steamed from a dented pot near the coals.  Around the camp, deer-hide teepees stood among the trees.  Flintlock rifles, knives and tomahawks lay near each shelter.  ­We leaned the bikes against some trees near the men standing around the fire.

          "Can a couple of hombres get a pan of grub?" I asked with a drawl.

          "Grab yerselves a plate o' vittles," one of them replied.

          "Don't mind if'n I do," Rex said, unpacking his mess kit.

          "Hep yerselves," the man said.  "Don't be bashful."

          Rex spooned the hot stew onto his plate and walked

over to the men, "My name is Rex, and this is my brother, Frosty.

Several bearded men named Curly, Gonzo, Hondo, and Yukon­ Jack stepped up to shake hands with us.  Each man wore­ early frontier clothing.

          Rex walked around shaking hands with all the mountain ­men. 

          "S'cuse me there, pardner," Hondo said, placing his hand on my shoulder.

          "Yes?" I said, hesitantly.

          "Yer a couple of good-sized dudes," Hondo said.  "How'd you like to stay and compete in some mountain man­ contests?"

          Rex overheard Hondo and jumped in, "Sure!  We'd love to, wouldn't we, Frosty."

          "Yeah, why not?"

          "Good," said Hondo.  "Why don't you boys pitch yer tent over there in that clearing."

          After the invitation, we dragged our gear past another group of buck-skinners who were standing around talking.  All the men had animal headpieces.  A fox fur cap sat one man's head.  Others wore coonskin caps and necklaces made of grizzly bear claws.  Beads and feathers stuck out of felt hats, and everyone walked around in boots or moccasins.

          Yukon Jack led us over to a sign that read, "ALL DOGS ON A LEASH OR THEY'LL BE EATEN ALIVE!"

          "You guys eat dogs, alive?" Rex asked.

          "Just kiddin'," the mountain man replied. "Say, you boys got a mighty fine tent with netting to keep out the skeeters."

          "With the size of these blood suckers, we need all the protection we can get," Rex replied, pounding in a stake.  "We heard they grow so big in this state, they'll quench their thirst on a caribou and carry off humans for dessert."

          "That's not too far from the truth," Yukon said. "Last week, one of our skinners named Bushwhacker, fell asleep (drunk) in his tent without a shirt on.  As you can imagine, half the skeeter population in the world lives in Alaska.  That night, they zoomed into his teepee and made refueling runs on his body.  He almost died from losing so much blood."

          "He almost died...." I said, swallowing.  "That's the worst story I ever heard about skeeters in my life."

          "Yukon," Rex said.  "How come you skinners come out here and hold this rendezvous?"

          "We like bein' in the wilderness," Yukon Jack said. "The early rendezvous in Pinedale, Wyoming with mountain men like Jim Bridger were based on a common need for frontier people to meet and exchange goods.  In the pioneer days, they met several times a year to trade with Indians and each other.  Modern skinners continue the custom today with beadwork, belts, guns and leather goods are a few of the items for barter.  During the time we spend here, we have contests of woodsmanship, strength, hunting, tomahawk throwing and cooking."

Part 2: Arm wrestling contest, moose turd pitching contest, flintlock rifle contests, tomahawk throwing, eating raw fish.


Share these videos all over America:

In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video, "Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls", Roy Beck, director of  www.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation.  Take five minutes to see for yourself: v=LPjzfGChGlE&feature=player_ embedded

"Immigration by the numbers—off the chart "  by Roy Beck This 10-minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a few words, "Mind boggling!" v=muw22wTePqQ


-- Frosty Wooldridge
Golden, CO
Population-Immigration-Environmental specialist: speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences
Facebook: Frosty Wooldridge
Facebook Adventure Page: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Six continent world bicycle traveler
Adventure book: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Frosty Wooldridge, six continent world bicycle traveler, Astoria, Oregon to Bar Harbor, Maine, 4,100 miles, 13 states, Canada, summer 2017, 100,000 feet of climbing: