Dana’s flight arrived in Anchorage about midnight last night so Riley and Chandler left around 11PM, early enough to stop by Walmart to purchase cheap rain jackets and pants for all of us in preparation for a muddy, all day ATV adventure while Matt and I made sure no intruders were sleeping in the beds back at the house.
After what seemed like a short night’s sleep, we drove to Palmer, AK this morning to meet our guide, Marty, at the Carrs grocery store where we picked up our lunches and water for the day. From there we drove another 40 mins or so to Boulder Creek. Once there, we changed into our hazmat suits which, by the photo, you can see were perfectly tailored for each of us, traded our clean shoes for rubber boots and were fitted with helmets and warm gloves. After a quick safety talk we were on our way down the trail.
Marty led the way followed by Chandler and Dana, I rode with Riley and Matt brought up the rear. After just a few minutes everyone was comfortable splashing through mud, flying up rocky inclines and sliding around corners. The first sign of trouble came about 30 minutes into the ride when Marty’s left rear wheel began wobbling, clearly not securely fastened. We decided to stop for lunch so he could make the necessary repairs.
Marty had loaded up our lunches and water in coolers back at the store and he strapped all the gear to his ATV when we set out. We unpacked our lunches and sorted the sandwiches only to discoverer Marty forgot to load up the cooler with our water bottles. He scrounged around and came up with one 16 oz. bottle of water and one very dusty bottle of berry flavored water that had been in his pack for who knows how long. Grrrr! We ate our sandwiches and chips and shared the 2 bottles of water while enjoying the magnificent mountains and valleys surrounding us. It really was amazingly beautiful
We looked over to see how Marty’s repairs were coming and saw him beating against the wheel with a large rock. Apparently he wasn’t exactly well equipped with tools as he had a socket wrench but no actual sockets, two bent screw drivers and a crescent wrench from an Ikea bed assembly kit. So, I guess it would be more accurate to say he had a socket wrench handle. Thus, the rock seemed to be the best choice.
Satisfied that the wheel was fixed, we forged ahead to more challenging terrain. Before long we were bouncing and splashing again until the axel nut flew off into the road and it became clear it wasn’t going to stay on. He distracted us by redirecting our attention to the gorgeous landscape. It worked its magic again as you can see below.
Since we were down one ATV, Marty commandeered one of ours so all of us were doubled up for the rest of the ride. We rode along a rocky creek bed and forded the creek several times where the water was surprisingly deep but the ATVs had no problem slogging through it. Dana navigated the creek and zipped right along with the guys. The blowing wind inflated her jacket, proving once again how very fashionable these garments really are!
After a brief stop at a memorial site created for an Indian guide in a picturesque stand of trees alongside the creek, we turned around to head back. We chose to take the “mud pit” and “rock road” route just to keep it interesting. It was definitely both muddy and rocky and the ugly hazmat suits proved their merits.
Marty called a colleague for help and he was waiting when we got back to where Marty’s 4-wheeler was parked. He offered to tow it in, but Marty wanted to try to ride it out. He stood on the right side to minimize the weight on the left wheel and took off. Amazingly, it climbed over the rocks and up pretty steep inclines for a good way. His friend followed us for a while to make sure everything was fine and eventually took off. Then the inevitable occurred…. the wheel just fell off… in the dirt… in the middle of the steepest hill… Of course.
Poor Marty took off his pistol and left it with us (in case of bears?) and took off to catch his buddy so he could tow him in. Matt and Riley took things into their own hands and with our help lifting the ATV on it’s side, fixed the wheel and hooked the tow rope and Riley towed it in with Matt driving.
After such an exciting day we were happy to get back in the car, drive back to Girdwood and relax. We can worry about the laundry tomorrow…