Avoiding Bears While Fishing and Hunting For Singletrack in Alaska

Mar 3, 2014
by Peter Ostroski  
Words by Rocky Mountain Enduro athlete Peter Ostroski.
Photos by Charlie Renfro.


Pete near Raven Glacier


Alaska is home to the world’s northernmost rainforest, resource development, North America’s tallest peak, and spectacular terrain. While the winter provides world class skiing, summer brings long days and plentiful wilderness. Living in Alaska in the winter and racing the mountain bike enduro circuit in the summer, I found a break in my schedule for a quick adventure in the 49th state.

After the Crankworx EWS race in the mecca of mountain biking, Whistler BC, I packed up my Altitude and flew to Anchorage, Alaska. I arrived to the sight of fog-covered mountains shooting straight up from the North Pacific Ocean and several moose lounging 100 meters from the runway, and made my way to the small ski-town of Girdwood. With persistent precipitation and fog, I met up with local photographer Charlie Renfro in hopes of a weather window to get some images.


Anchorage is home to a growing number of mountain bike trails. Kincaid Park, on the south side of the city, supports a huge network of Nordic and snow-bike trails in the winter, but the summer trail-network is great too, and we were lucky enough to get some evening light there.


Our next mission was to head southwest on the Kenai Peninsula to the town of Homer, in search of some riding across the Kachemak Bay. We rolled into town mid afternoon after four hours of driving and went aboard the Ikpiq, an English-made bilge keeler vessel. Captained by our local Girdwood friend Aaron Stiassny, the 26-foot long vessel can sit flat on land without tipping over and holds a lot of history in its old wooden deck boards. The boat has sailed up and down the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, nearly being lost in a storm which stranded local Homer legend John Miles on the southwest side of Shelikof Strait, 150 miles away from Homer.


Next we made our way to Jacklof Bay in search of a trail up to Red Mountain towards the North side of Seldovia. The word was the trail up to Red Mountain had washed out from flooding last year, and little was known about the actual condition of the massive drainage that used to be home to an old chromium mine. The old mining road was indeed washed out, and we reached the upper valley near Red Mountain with about an hour of daylight left and no singletrack in sight. We scrapped the idea of trying to ride to the ridgeline and headed back to the boat for a dinner of fresh mussels.



Our slow motor back to the dock the next morning was followed by a tour of the bluff above Homer Spit, John Miles’s house, and the neighbouring farm. We made it in time for a beer and a close up view of the farm's first pig-slaughter of the season.



Heading back to Girdwood for the last couple days of the trip, the weather locked in once again. Rain and cool temperatures didn’t make for ideal exploring conditions, but on the last day the clouds lifted. We made our way up towards Crow pass, where there's a 24-mile trail all the way down to the town of Eagle River. The terrain went from alder-thick singletrack to rugged, open alpine trails. The epic riding in the Chugach Mountains was a great way to round out the adventure.



All in all it was an incredible trip, with much more to explore next time. Thanks to the folks in Anchorage for the local knowledge, Rocky Mountain Bikes, and Charlie Renfro for the photos!


44 Comments

  • + 40
 Where are the bears and the fishing ?
  • + 30
 Being avoided, but yeah I was excited for that too
  • + 47
 bears only charge 29er riders
  • + 6
 Fishing for single tracks, and I suppose they where successful at avoiding the bears... That pig looks like he died happy...
  • + 0
 babi!
  • + 6
 The title shouldn't include bears. Maybe just like fishing for Alaskan single track because in general the pinkbike community loves some bears. When you say avoiding bears in Alaska I see some dude thrashing some dh while a huge grizzly is chasing him down
  • + 10
 Lack of bears upset me.
  • + 4
 Also might account for lack of bike riders....
  • + 3
 Man... you totally missed out on some amazing riding here Seward Alaska! Just an hour and a half away from Girdwood we have some spectacular single track on our local Lost Lake trail.
  • + 5
 Yeah seriously not one bear. False advertising.
  • + 2
 Tell me about it.

I lived in NorCal for three years. Wanted to see bears. Rode and hiked in places that warned of bears. Spent much effort being careful about food, hiking for days in the Sierras and Cascades packing food in bear barrels and kept them away from the tent, locked food in bear bins and ensured there wasn't so much as a crumb in the car when parked overnight in bear country. Guess how many bears we saw?

False advertising.
  • + 13
 Maybe not locking the food in bear bins could've helped seeing one.
  • + 1
 I live in Oregon, and a bear once dug through my trash can bro, you just unlucky!
  • + 4
 Mazze, I think you were on to something. Come to think of it, we did see some bears the first time we went to San Francisco. Two big moustachioed hairy guys in a convertible Mustang. They even had a vanity plate 'BEARS'.
  • + 1
 It's not false advertising in North Vancouver. I probably see 12-18 bears a season, between riding and or walking through my neighbourhood. It's sad actually, they shouldn't be here. But a-hole neighbours don't know how to handle their garbage.
  • + 2
 Nice work Peter O! You have a wonderful adventurous spirit! I'm glad you avoided AK bears, and you fished for some awesome riding! Gorgeous photos of a premier rider! Thanks for sharing!
  • + 1
 i almost hit one in Diablo NJ.(of all places) People were waving their hands and I couldnt hear with a dh helmet. Came around the turn and a small brown bear, I almost smacked right into him. I fell off to the side of the trail and prayed he went the other way...he ran away. But i think everyone kinda has bears in the back of their mind when riding in the woods by themselves. It would be a cool article with some tips how to avoid them.
  • + 3
 Somebody wash the dishes, please, and hide the naked pig spine. I would like to see a bear. There are only few left.
  • + 0
 Cool shots! Charlie is a great photographer and rad dude! Next time you head up that way to AK hit me up. Ill show you AK's secrets legendary rides that only a handful of people have ever done. Cheers!
  • + 3
 Was hoping for a cool bear picture. Instead, a beheaded pig..
  • + 2
 Title should read- Biking Better with Bacon
  • + 2
 Gawd......Livin' the dream.....Please keep these articles coming.
  • + 0
 You are allowed to ride the crow pass trail! When I lived there all the chugach was off limits to bikes.
  • + 1
 It is still off limits, both from the north side with Alaska State Parks (in regulation 11 AAC 20.050) and with the USFS on the Girdwood side... unless they got a permit to shoot/ride there...
  • + 1
 No bears? Guess he did a good job of avoiding them.
  • + 0
 Was pumped to read about bears, but Enduro will do.
  • + 1
 Come on now, this is blatantly all-mountain.
  • + 1
 Nice job Pete!
  • - 1
 Avoiding bears? More like avoiding straight people cause he does enduro and he's gay
  • + 1
 wtf? So, enduro is gay? 4 yrs ago some people hated the term "all-mountain", now it's "enduro". Just shut up, SHUT THE F*#K UP.
  • + 0
 You need to come out of the closet deadtime. Its OK to be gay.
  • + 0
 That wasn't "beary fishi...."
  • + 0
 ummmm....Dudes..Bear??
  • - 3
 Go Vegan! This article should be titled "avoiding specieist humans".
  • + 3
 I'm going to go make myself a tasty plate of bacon just for you.
  • - 3
 I don't condone murder. Your pathetic attempt to incite me to fall to your heinous level failed. Having compassion for all beings will always prevail. Here's a Vegan link just for you;

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFPsvF3UOdo&list=UUP8wqLAt5qYMmOwMB7-mvTQ&feature=c4-overview

That's correct he's 100% Natural and Vegan.

I will never again cruelly kill or pay others to commit atrocities in my stead to innocent sentient beings just to maintain my life; never ever again. I'm proud to say that I'm 18 and 1/2 years down the veggie road and it has been eye opening beautiful. I cannot even count the times people ask me how old I am; looking at me in disbelief when they hear my age. Go Veg! You'll never regret a single second of it.
  • + 1
 I didn't make it for you to eat, I made it in your honor and then ate it myself. It was a culinary delight. Thank you for that pile of holier-than-thouisms though, I bet you've changed a lot of people's minds.
  • + 0
 FÙ€k off! Johnson!
  • + 2
 Wow, okay. You can have a teensy piece of bacon.
  • + 1
 how do you know that all those vegetables you are eating aren't sentient? that poor innocent carrot you are devouring could have consciousness. it could feel! since you don't understand the way that vegetable is communicating to you it doesn't make it any less important as a species than you are. shame on you for you are the herbaceous holocaust.
domesticated animals have made the conscious decision to live under our protection in a contractual agreement that, upon their time being up, they hereby give up their bodies as forfeit in appreciation of our housing and feeding them.
its science dude.
i put some bacon in my meatloaf for you lemonferndernburger.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2018. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.036701
Mobile Version of Website