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Stage 489 – Snowshoe Lake to Tolsona

What a belter of a wee stage this is. Leaving behind the western remnants of the northern fringes of the Rockies, stage 489 makes its way across what might be described as the ‘flat lands’ (I use the term loosely) west of the Copper River to serve up some bends, a nasty wee climb and a fabulous finish. Within the context of the Alaskan stages of Around The World, this is one of the easier ones.

The rollout climbs for a mile past the top end of Ryan Lake before embarking on a winding and rollicking five mile descent past Fish Lake at three miles and Mendeltna Creek Lodge a mile later. At the lodge, the Glenn Highway crosses over the aptly named Mendeltna River (or maybe it’s the lodge that’s aptly named). Although the road does continue its descent for a short while after, by the time you reach Woods Creek at six miles it’s game over and the hard work begins: between miles six and seven, the elevation gains three hundred feet: by the time the road peaks at nine miles, you’re looking down from the highest elevation of the stage and you’re not even at halfway. That’s not necessarily good news either, by the way.

On the way up to the summit, Route 1 passes through Tazlina, which boasts an airport, Buddy Lake and a Seaplane Base on Tazlina Smokey Lake at seven miles. The descent to thirteen miles is punctuated by bunches of water north and south as the road threads its way between several small unnamed lakes, and it passes by the junction of Lake Louise Road at eleven miles (I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess where that goes).

That kickstarts the next climb which passes south of Tex Smith Lake (so it’s on your left) at thirteen miles before topping out at two thousand six hundred feet just before sixteen miles. There, it’s time to strap yourself in for some fun because despite all the climbing, the next four miles take the road down to its lowest elevation of the stage at the twenty mile mark. The bottom of the descent is just before Soup Lake, and as the road straightens out after a left/right combo, it scoots by the top end of Mae West lake to set up a relatively calm and flat run in to the finish at the junction of Tolsona Road which leads to, wait for it, Tolsona, a mile to the north.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 594 feet / 181 metres

RGT Magic Road: ddEmIyiEmMj2

Total distance: 20.93 mi
Max elevation: 2601 ft
Min elevation: 2243 ft
Total climbing: 593 ft
Total descent: -871 ft

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