MILES OF PORTRAITS: ALASKA – DEAR JOURNAL, DAMN!

This photo of Annalisa and Erik was snapped by Chandler Abraham who was carrying a huge camera lens to capture the wildlife here. He was one of the only other cyclists we met in the park.
This photo was snapped by Chandler Abraham who was carrying a huge camera lens to capture the wildlife here. He was one of the only other cyclists we met in the park.

New here? This is the second part of a five-part series. Read about and watch all the episodes here.

The routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by.
– Jedidiah Jenkins

Ever since returning from our cross-country bike trip last year, it pains me to sit for too long in an office – “the box”, as Erik and I call it. I don’t want to sound privileged when I say this, as I know many of you may be reading this in an office. But ever since realizing we were fortunate enough to find a way to break out of “the box”, we did.

Swarming NYC crowds and desk lunches are a huge part of what motivated us to break the mold. I was born and raised in Manhattan. It was an interesting childhood and I certainly wouldn’t complain about being brought up in this town. But the stress of this place is getting to me. It has the power to raise my blood sugar, flare up my acne, and give me anxiety. I prefer NYC in small doses, coming into the city from my South Brooklyn home when I need to and escaping it all together as much as possible.

We’re always longing to go from the concrete jungle to the actual jungle; to see the world from behind our handlebars instead of our screens. To find a way to do it now –– not “someday.”

The view from my tent at Wonder Lake.
The view from my tent at Wonder Lake.
Filling up water in mosquito hell.
Filling up water in mosquito hell.

We chose Alaska for our most recent Miles of Portraits bike trip because based on Lael Wilcox’s description, it seemed truly wild.

Wild is the title of my favorite book. It’s what we dream of as New Yorkers. Alaska’s Denali National Park encompasses the word like no other place. There’s only one road that goes into the park. And that’s just a sliver of the six-million-acre park filled with grizzly bears, moose, wolves, reindeer, and Dall sheep.

There are no cars allowed on the 92.5-mile road – just buses, registered vehicles, and… bicycles! If you ride in, taking the bus back to the entrance is free. We took a few days to cycle the road so that we’d have time for hikes along the way. We backcountry camped most of the time, stashing our bikes every night and hiking to a camping spot that was out of sight of the road. Unlike most national parks, Denali has few designated hiking trails. Instead, visitors are encouraged to walk straight into the tundra and forge their own path.

This second episode documents a mix of cycling and hiking into what is probably the most spectacular place we’ve ever laid our eyes upon. It’s a nice change from the hustle and bustle of NYC life. Enjoy!

After packing up our tents, Erik climbed up a hill and shouted: “Hey Annalisa, I think you’re going to want to do a handstand.”
A gravel road winding into the distance.
Meh.
Due to a bear kill ahead of us, we had to unload our bikes and hop on a park bus to safely pass the site.
Erik photographing a pink Mount Denali at 1 am.
After stashing our bikes at the visitor center, we took the panniers and food we needed and hiked down to the tundra for the night.

You can get your own copy of our magazine of portraits here.
See us live at a screening + talk at an REI near you.

Miles of Portraits: Alaska Episode 2

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Annalisa van den Bergh was born and raised in New York City by a Venezuelan mother and a Dutch father. She's a visual storyteller with a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She's currently riding her bicycle around the world and taking pictures of the people she meets. The project, called Miles of Portraits celebrates the ways the bicycle brings people together.

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