As for our crew, we pulled the trigger for this AK-ation last minute, booked flights on a whim, and made our way to join forces with a veteran crew of Colorado rippers who were primed to lay waste to the vast terrain. Jeff Brockmeyer, professional photog and myself found ourselves in Anchorage in early April, a few strokes past 9 p.m, and were greeted by the lingering light of the setting Alaskan sun. We snagged our over-stuffed bags and made our way to the reasonably priced Puffin Inn for the night to discuss details on our loosely planned trip.
Brockmeyer came ready with a solid winter camping setup from the The North Face and claimed he was prepared to "freeze his ass off in a tent for the next month" while waiting for the sun. I planned to stay with a friend I met on Tinder during a bout of boredom last fall. While swiping through digital possibilities, I matched with Miles, a California-born Colorado rider with a zest for adventuring. A few messages and emoticons later, Miles and I met in Silverton, Colorado where we rode with guiding guru, Chris Coulter. Fast forward a couple months and Facebook informed me Miles was on a Canada/Alaska tour and was planning to head to Tailgate AK. I hit him up, told him our plans, and he eagerly offered to be a part of the crew. Luckily he had everything dialed with a truck, pop-up and sled in tow.
Miles swooped Brockmeyer and me from the hotel and we loaded our bulging bags into his camper. We made a few essential stops for food, booze, and fireworks then pulled out onto Alaska Route 1 and set out on our way. We wound through 300 miles of two-lane highways, careening past massive mountains and oddly-shaped trees as we lurched onward toward Thompson Pass and mile marker 29.5, the home of Tailgate.
This was Miles’ and my first time in our nation’s 49th state, and we were certainly ‘green’ when it came to the experience of it all. We hoped for the best, but were ready for whatever would come our way. Fortunately, the crew we planned to meet included Jacob Carey, Colin Spencer and Ritchie Colasanti—all of whom have a few seasons of AK riding under their belt. This eclectic trio of Colorado-based riders had been planning their trip for months and were prepared on all fronts. They made the six-day, 3000 mile journey in Ritchie’s pickup truck, complete with a camper topper, trailer and three sleds in tow. The guys had already been on a bit of an epic mission having stopped at Mt. Baker, Whistler, and Haines before sending it over to Thompson Pass. When they arrived, the truck was littered with curious collections from the road, including a few crumpled Hustlers and candy wrappers.