When Lisa and I were planning our Alaska trip, one of the must do’s on our list was to check out the bikepacking routes on the Kenai Peninsula, specifically Resurrection Pass, Russian Lakes Trail, and Johnson Pass. While the trailheads for these routes are easily accessible, the trails go deep into the Chugach National Forest and combined, they form 83 miles of awesome wilderness singletrack riding. We linked these trails up with some bikerafting and beachpacking, but to ride them as a loop, park at the north trailhead for the Johnson Pass Trail, at mile 64 of the Seward Highway and at the end of the bike path descending south from Turnagain Pass. From here you can ride counterclockwise, heading south on the Johnson Pass Trail, or ride 25 highway miles to Hope and the start of the Resurrection Pass Trail, which is the option we chose.
When Lisa and I were planning our Alaska bikepacking trip, we knew beach riding had to be included. That was one of the main reasons we chose fatbikes. Unfortunately, after some research we realized long stretches of easily accessible and rideable coastline are hard to come by, but not on the Kenai Peninsula. Riding the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula isn’t something new; the first trips I read about were Pat’s and Kathy’s Near Hope to Homer trip, which was back in 2005, then Eric’s and Dylan’s 2008 trip. While chartering a plane was out of our budget and chest deep slogs through marsh and mud didn’t seem like the most fun, the beach riding looked amazing.
We didn’t originally plan on riding over Portage Pass to Whittier – why would we? At two miles long, the Portage Pass Trail is shorter than the paddle across Portage Lake to get to it. The original plan was to spend a few hours packrafting to Portage Glacier, but then camping was mentioned. Well, if we’re bringing camping gear, we may as well haul everything, and if we’re hauling everything, we may as well ride to Whittier. Besides, it will make for a great gear – and partnership shake down.
If you haven’t read Riding the XVT: Part 1, you can read it here.
Before Jeff and I finished the northern part of the XVT, I was already making plans to ride the southern section. Jeff was unable to join me, but Dan, my close friend and 4-season adventure partner was chomping at the bit to ride it, we just needed to make the time. Neither of us had any intentions of setting a record, but we planned on moving quicker than a touring pace while still taking some breaks and getting eight hours of sleep every night. On short notice we managed to find 2½ days in our schedules that matched up, and with an offer from Jeff to drive us to the start on the Massachusetts border, we were off.
I was back from Alaska for only a couple of days when Jeff, who I rode the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with last year, mentioned he wanted to ride the XVT and he wanted to leave that weekend. Perfect, enough time to unpack, repair, and repack my gear, with a little time to research the route. The XVT, or XVtBkPkRte as it’s also referred to, is a 300 mile long bikepacking route that runs the length of Vermont, from Whitingham on the Massachusetts border to Derby on the Canada border.
If you haven’t read my previous posts, about the trip I took up the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, you can read them here.
My stomach bug was still holding on when I rolled into Banff and honestly, the town is nothing like mountain town I expected it to be. The town of Banff is part of Banff National Park, so technically you need a park pass just to be there. Combine that with crowds of selfie stick toting tourists and I just wanted out. But before I was going anywhere, my bike needed some maintenance and I needed to resupply with food.