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Stage 487 – Lion Head to Eureka Roadhouse

It’s time to get your climbing shoes on again. This stage descends by eight hundred feet but it climbs more than twice that. There were times in both Mongolia and China where the elevation exceeded five thousand feet but as the Alaskan leg of Around The World makes its way east across the Rockies, that record may soon be in danger: stage 487 ends the day at over three thousand feet above sea level.

The rollout is initially uphill before the Glenn Highway drops down to cross Caribou Creek where it flows into the Matanuska River. Those first couple of miles mark out a great big S shape on the landscape, beginning at the bottom of the S, before settling down into a long meandering climb up the mountainside between miles two and twelve: there are a couple of sections where the road flattens out a bit, but basically it’s a ten mile slog. On one of those flatter sections, at seven miles, the highway passes by Sheep Mountain Airport, then by way of adding atmosphere to the route, there’s the rather aptly named Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge at nine miles, just before a right/left combo of bends that lead up to the summit high above North Knob Lake.

The summit is the highest elevation of the stage at three thousand four hundred feet and even though the road loses three hundred feet as it descends down past Lake Leila, Tahneta Lake and the airports of Gunsight Mountain and Tahneta Pass to the eighteen mile mark, it then starts another climb to set up the run in to the finish. There are two Startup Lakes, linked by a stream about a mile north of the road, and they form the backdrop to the finish as the road curves right before swinging back left to the line.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 1909 feet / 582 metres

RGT Magic Road: LG6nAv4qhyRC

Total distance: 20.94 mi
Max elevation: 3412 ft
Min elevation: 1966 ft
Total climbing: 1910 ft
Total descent: -840 ft

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