Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Lisa Beranek of the Kenai Watershed Forum introduces The Lost Coast Presentation, during which listeners learned what it takes to survive a week-long bike trip, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, at the Kenai River Center in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Lisa Beranek of the Kenai Watershed Forum introduces The Lost Coast Presentation, during which listeners learned what it takes to survive a week-long bike trip, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, at the Kenai River Center in Soldotna, Alaska.

Lost Coast bikers inspire interest in water

Travellers shared advice, inspiration and laughter during a Kenai Watershed Forum Lost Coast Presentation.

During the Thursday evening event, three presenters chronicled the adventures of seven Kenai Peninsula friends who undertook a bike trip along what’s known as Alaska’s Lost Coast, 112 miles from Lituya Bay to Yakutat. They presented the highlights of their trip, along with a video documenting it from start to finish, to a crowded room at the Kenai River Center in Soldotna. What started out as a well-researched and planned out trip soon turned into what presenters Wally Hufford, Trevor Davis and Doug Armstrong called secondary fun; enjoyable in hindsight but extremely difficult at the time.

“You could ride down the beach great with it (the gear), but every time you had to cross a stream or something, everything came off, the wheels (and) tires included,” Hufford said. “We packed them on the front of the raft, and we’d go across the waterway, and put everything back together again.”

The friends encountered a wolf, a bear, an eight-mile stretch of boulders that made riding impossible and put them several days behind, an impassable waterway and foggy weather conditions that caused the plane they finally called to pick them up to miss them the first time around. Two of the group members, including Davis, continued on to Yakutat, and paddled across a glacial lake in the process.

This and other experiences along the trip drew laughter and curiosity from the crowd. Hands continued to shoot up after the presentation, and the group members answered question after question about their bikes, camping gear, opinions of the trip and their adventure expertise.

Lisa Beranek of the Kenai Watershed Forum coordinates the Stream Watch, the Kenai River Festival and the Birding Festival. She said inspiring presentations like The Lost Coast ultimately help the forum with its education efforts. They help connect people to their surroundings, especially water, in an emotional way, which in turn makes them more open to learning about how to protect those water sources, she said.

“It’s very important to us to have a connection in the community to our natural areas and to understand the health of them, but also to have that emotional connection, to want to protect them and maintain their health,” Beranek said. “The stars aligned to say this is an opportunity for us to hear their story but also an opportunity to share it with the community, to say ‘this is what’s going on in our community,’ and it helps pull at those heart stings (for) the watersheds that we have here.”

Hufford said most of his trips are on a smaller scale, but that the purpose behind them remains the same as when he and his friends took on The Lost Coast.

“I’ve never done this big of an adventure, but like riding our bikes from Nikiski to Homer, just getting outdoors and having adventures and enjoying nature,” he said.

“They (the crowd) were asking some pretty technical questions about things, so I think there were some interested,” Hufford said.

Hufford said beginning adventurers should “start small, and then work up into bigger, larger more remote places.”

The Kenai Watershed Forum will host an erosion control project open for volunteers on Oct. 4, Beranek said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com

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