Pat & Kathy's 160 mile bicycle beach ride from near Hope to Homer

August 2005
written by Kathy Sarns Irwin ~ photos by Kathy and Pat Irwin

Chapter 7, Shifting sands and Smoke

We slept like logs except for the fireworks at 10 pm.

Big giant fat tired logs.

Got up at 6 am. Smoke has blown in from a fire somewhere. Alaska has HUGE fires that burn millions of acres and when the smoke blows in it is bleak. We ate at my friend Diana's and had a hearty breakfast of strong coffee and breakfast burritos. Lots of burritos. We waved good bye and she wished she was going with us. Yup and watch out this ski season, Diana, I be strong like ox. Or maybe just look like a tired burrito fed ox, which was how I was feeling that morning. Pretty worn down from the long day before and was thinking maybe this should have been a rest day. But too late, we had already checked out of our Beachcomber bungalow.

We got on the beach just past Deep Creek at around 8 am.
Cloudy, smoky, dreary, and lots of dead fish parts on the beach.

Flocks of ravens and sea birds and many eagles.

We passed two families of eagles, each teaching 3 young ones how to fly. The ravens don't make it easy as they hang out and bother the young eagles as they follow mom and pop down the beach. We saw about 20 eagles in a 3 miles stretch. Including a very large Golden eagle. And 100s of ravens. Then we hit the gravel from hell. Somewhere near Happy Valley we were struggling. Not happy, and no valley... just deep smooth stones. No packed gravel to be found. I was tired and this was exhausting. Burritos did not help today. Walking was actually harder than riding because the sand and rocks were so deep. Even Pat admitted it was hard going. Visions of our cozy bungalow danced in my head as I swayed exhausted and spinning on the loose beach, trying to keep momentum for as long as possible. We did the best we could for about 5-6 miles, stopped at the next beach access and decided to go the last 4 miles to Anchor Point on the road. Whew! We cycled the few miles to Anchor point and ate at the Anchor Point Inn. Then cycled the road down to the other side of Anchor River and set up camp. I got in the tent about 3 pm and fell instantly asleep for 2 hours. After a light supper we went to bed early. We covered about 20 -25 very slow miles today. We stopped here today because we were tired and most of all because:

We planned to do just the section between Anchor Point and Homer on one low tide. We have been warned repeatedly to be careful of this section. Experienced folks all said we do not want to get caught there with 500 foot steep cliffs and no way out. So it would be good to be rested and get up early and have plenty of time for this last part of our journey.