While I was packing up my icy tent, a hunter stopped his camper and brought me over some Starbucks coffee he had brewed. An angel in camo! We had a short chat and then he was off to look for caribou. A kind fellow and it reminded me of the corny "Hug a Hunter" ads being run on TV. I definitely could have hugged him!
The descent down the south side of Atigun Pass was a screamer, with a dangerous layer of loose gravel. I seriously doubted my chances with the narrow 38mm tires on my bike. Even with sparing use the the disk brakes, I could smell them smoking a bit. Like a runaway train I was totally committed. I raced downwards, with the fully weight of touring bags pushing me to my doom. This was one of those times one thinks about the consequences of a potential crash. The nearest clinic was 150 miles to the north in Prudhoe Bay and Fairbanks hospital 350 miles to the south, and with no ambulances in between. I kept telling myself to stay cool and calm, as the gravel flew beneath my wheels. Yikes!
I noticed that there was more fall colors now. The northern tundra had been quite brown, the autumn season advanced already, even in early September. But now hints of color were showing. And then I came around a bend and my first pine trees appeared! A road sign was placed there and said these this was the northernmost treeline. In fact this was equivalent to being at 12,000' in Colorado, the same vegetation zone. Pedaling off, I soon noticed more and more trees and color in the brush. It was sort of exciting viewing, given the sterile tundra I had just been in.