Sleep In The Dirt

Bikepacking Alaska: Night Terrors & Mozzies

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Last month, I wrote a post for Big Agnes about my bikepacking trip in Alaska, in which I mentioned how bad the mosquitoes were and that I had some night terrors. The folks at Big Agnes were so intrigued, they asked me to write another post centered around these two subjects.

Bikepacking through Alaska has it's ups and downs. Mostly ups, but downs too.

The joke in Alaska is that the state bird is the mosquito. (It’s actually the Willow Ptarmigan.) During our trip, there were actually fewer times with mosquitoes than without—but when there were mosquitoes, they were bad!

Craig is an avid bikepacker with tons of tricks to stay comfortable on-trail.

The worst night was on Day 4. Scott and I were deep into the interior of Alaska, about 54 miles north of Glennallen on the Richardson Highway. We’d already stopped and looked at a few potential spots to camp, but nothing looked that good. When we finally decided on one, the mosquitoes were all over us before we could even stop. We had already donned our rain gear in defense against the little bastards, but as soon as we pulled off, the head nets went on. If we stopped moving, we’d instantly be covered in dozens of mosquitoes, each one trying to find a weakness in our defenses.

Head nets are a must-have in the Alaska backcountry.

I tried my best not to let any into my Fly Creek HV2 Platinum, but once in my tent, I found that three out of the thousands surrounding us had managed to breach my defenses. In what some would call pure luck, I struck and killed all three enemy combatants in one go. It was, and still is, secretly one of my greatest achievements.

Three "mozzies" in one slap - efficiency.

The two nights before this, I had night terrors. Scott informed me that the first night, he just heard a few moans coming from my tent and some talking. But on Night 3, I had the mother of all night terrors. You have to understand I don’t usually get them. I think between the travel and head cold I’d been battling, I must have been off.

Choose your camp site carefully while in Alaska. As they say, "location, location, location."

When I first woke up, I recalled the night terror but at the same time I didn’t. I started to tell Scott about it and how my tent disappeared and the words “IT’S NOT SAFE! GET OUT!” were scrawled in its place, and how I attempted to scream “WHA…WHAT THE F—!” but couldn’t get the words out. He mentioned that he did hear me say those words in my sleep. At that moment, it was if the whole story came back to me, even though I was already telling it.

A nice campsite is a welcoming sight while bikepacking through Alaska.

A mixed wave of adrenaline, confusion, and fear washed over me. It left me with the oddest feeling I’ve had in a long time. I finished telling Scott the whole story, from the missing tent, to our camp becoming a pre-fab metal building cluttered with junk that was filled with scary-ass people, to various naked people doing non PG-13 acts. When I finished my story, Scott just looked at me with a blank expression of pity and wonder.

We would joke about the night terrors for the remainder of the trip, and each time I secretly shuttered inside.

Check out Craig’s site to read the full story.

Craig Fowler is a professional adventurer, story teller, and motivator. Fowler specializes in hiking and bikepacking, though he’s also an avid fisherman, birder, and disc golfer. Currently Fowler holds the title as the only person to have completed both the thru-hiking and bikepacking triple crowns. Using his experiences from the trail, Fowler shares his knowledge through his stories and guides on his website, oneofsevenproject.com.

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