A cold wait.
End: Anchorage AK.
Waking up to our last hours in Denali, I had no idea what to expect. The typical morning chore of packing, charging and throwing on the weathered clothes was second nature. I grabbed my pack and cardboard sign, ducking under the low ceiling for the last time. Again the guys were downstairs talking around the table. Coffee was finished brewing and we all had a last cup together before we said our good byes.
Chris is a bashful fellow. The moment I told him I could shoot video on my camera he would smile from ear to ear, laughing and turning away. It was a fun reaction that I tested many times on our stay. Each time it became more funny until I started to laugh and shake the frame as well. I then set up my camera, posted it on some kind of makeshift tripod and got our last pics in before the morning grew late. We decided to try our luck across the street on the main highway. It is either north or south at this point, the only road linking Fairbanks and Anchorage through the heart of the countryside. Highway 3, we sat in wait.
The wind began to batter us as we waited along the south bound lane, hands in pockets. Penetrating my beat up raincoat, the wind sapped the heat and drove me to pace up and down the gravel shoulder to keep warm. The cloud cover didn’t help either as the sun remained hidden in the sky. As we both waited there, tossing out the thumbs and waving the sign, our hopes began it’s downward slope. Cars, trucks, and RVs all made their way past us, even merging out as to not give us any hint of kindness. All I could do was fish out something to eat from my pack and have a seat.
Some time later, a van came to a stop as I looked up at the road in front of me. With out hesitation, I leaped up to grab the bags and we both hustled to the waiting vehicle. A biker looking dude jumped out of the drivers seat and deflated an air mattress to make room. After tossing the bags in the back, we jumped in to meet two more hitchhikers. We all sat on the floor of the back cabin, spreading out as there was no seats. The guy didn’t have the heart to pass a hitchhiker, he stated. That too was tested as we packed the van with two more people, then another. All getting off at different stops, Dirk and I would remain almost till the end. We all talked for a bit, exchanging stories and destinations. We then got dubbed the clean cut hikers. I laughed for a bit and then smirked when I thought to myself, yea… compared to you guys. The typical dirty hippies and bearded men. Yea we were some what more clean than the rest. As the number of occupants dropped, Dirk and I spread out and I fell asleep. Nothing like the soothing rock of a speeding van down the highway to put me to sleep.
Waking, we made it. Anchorage and the suprise hotel Dirk’s mother booked for us. We both entered the room, tossed the packs aside and called out the beds. A relaxing end to a day that started uneasy.