Tailgate Alaska day 7 - So long and thanks for all the fish.

I woke up on day seven of Tailgate Alaska to bluebird skies, however, I decided not to fly for two reasons: 1) I had worked my shoulder the day before taking a nose dive in the sun crust, and 2) I wanted to get some runs in with the New York boys who were heading back to Anchorage the following day to catch their flight home. So I gave up my spot on the heli list to Gabe, and got some chips for the Big Mountain Taxi to do a few runs with Paul and Rob instead. George decided to go into Valdez to do some fishing and we planned to meet up with him later on at the Totem Inn before heading to some planned festivities at the Pipeline Club later that night. Hopefully the boy's last night in Alaska would be a good one.

Paul and Rob at the top of Gully #1 getting ready to ride.
Rob and Paul shortly after getting dropped off at the top of Gully 1 by the Big Mountain Taxi. Check out the big ass cornice behind them.

The day started a little late since Big Mountain Taxi can only access to Nick's, Python, and the Berlin Wall until after the King of the Hill. All of those faces are northern aspects, and don't get much light until the afternoon. When the sun finally hit those faces, however, it's on so we got geared up and ready for our first BMT bump. We got dropped off at the saddle at the top of Gully One and decided to come back down the same gully so we could hit the wind lip that had developed at the bottom. The problem was that the run in was getting tracked out and hard so it was like driving max speed through a pot-hole filled parking lot before being able to send it. We all did hit it, but it didn't feel like we went all that far until we looked at the bomb holes we had created on the leeward side of the wind lip. This is a testament to the misconceptions in scale that are possible in Alaska, I've often found myself going way bigger, or way faster than I thought I had been pretty much since I started riding on Thompson Pass. This is but one of the magical powers of Alaska.

After getting our fill, we jumped into my RV and drove down to Valdez to meet up with George. On the drive down, we could have sworn we saw Hank the Tank hitchhiking toward Thompson Pass. Hank was George's fishing buddy for the day, so we were naturally confused because a) George told us he'd meet us in Valdez and b) we didn't see him with Hank. Rob got on the phone with George and we confirmed that it was in fact Hank the Tank hitchhiking to Thompson Pass, however, George had stayed behind to do some bar hoping in Valdez. So by the time we met up with him, he was already familiar with every single bar in the city – although George is not convinced Valdez is a city since it does not have a single traffic light.

Before heading to the Pipeline Club we decided to go knock on Gabe's hotel room door to see what was up. He had come down to Valdez earlier in the day to pick up Farmer. We got to his room and Paul started making obscene gestures in the window. I expected that Gabe would open the door laughing at his antics, but instead Farmer opens the door with a slightly confused look on his face (understandably so). This was certainly a unique introduction of a bunch of Northeast schmucks to a living legend such as Shawn Farmer, but he seemed to roll quite well with it and let us into the room and showed us his collection of snowboards, including a custom designed 203cm Farmer Snowboards pow stick.

After kicking it for a short while with Gabe and Farmer, we decided to get a real meal at the Totem Inn, then head over to the Pipeline Club. We relied on George to get us to the Pipeline Club since he had already done a tour of all the bars in the entire “city” with a bag of fish (his catch for the day) in tow. Apparently George had been bar hoping since two in the afternoon. He'd bury his bag of fish in a snowbank, go in the bar, have a few drinks, retrieve his bag of fish, and repeat at the next bar until he had been to every bar in town. So by the time we met up with George, he was already warmed up and was ordering Jamieson Whiskey shots at the Totem Inn.

Blurry shot of the dancefloor and pool tables at the Pipeline Club.
This is how the Pipeline Club must have looked like to George by the time we all arrived: blurry.

We partied at the Pipeline Club until shortly after midnight. Paul had been hoping the DJ would let him on the wheels for a bit with Farmer rapping but I think he was worried that Paul would make him look bad. It's too bad too because being the DJ for Shawn Farmer would have been all-time and I had my Go Pro camera ready to film it. However, this setback didn't stop us from having a good time getting a few “fan boy” shots with Farmer and Perata throughout the night.

The party was still getting into high gear when we left the Pipeline, but we didn't want to get back to the Pass too late because I had to get up early for the King of the Hill and Paul, Rob, and George had to leave early for Anchorage. We tied George's bag of fish to the ladder on the back of the RV for the drive so it wouldn't start to stink (we didn't want to make it stink in the olfactory sense as well as the “craptacular” sense because I still need to sleep in it for a week). George was intent on frying it up when we got to the pass, but I think that was an alcohol fueled idea because by the time we arrived at the Pass, sleep was the only thing on the menu for George. He ended up giving his half of the catch to Hank the Tank (George: Hank fried it up on Saturday morning before King of the Hill and said it was awesome by the way), and the New York boys turned in before their early departure to Anchorage in the morning.

Even though the New York boys were only on the Pass for a week, their impact on Tailgate Alaska was pretty profound. They bought out the entire stock of PBR in Anchorage when they arrived, and shared it liberally with the other Tailgaters. They rolled into the Pass with a blow up doll mounted on their sled. They (mostly Rob) gave Danny and the Dingo a hard time which is classic because that Dingo dude gives so many people sh*t it's about time he gets some of his own. Most of all, they were quite possibly the coolest guys at Tailgate by all accounts. They really embody the spirit of Tailgate Alaska which is all about freeriding with the coolest people on the planet. I'm sure I speak for everyone on the pass when I say that I can't wait to party with those dudes again at next year's Tailgate. Hopefully next year they can stick around for the King of the Hill.

Winter Matters Bubble

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