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Smelling the Roses on the Way to the Arctic Circle

The notification on the Dalton Highway that indicates you have reached the Arctic Circle isn’t much—just a sign with a representation of a globe and a star that shows where you are in Alaska.

Steve Piper [1]

Steve Piper

But the less-than-grand scene did not undermine what Steve Piper, BS Business Management ’92, MBA ’94, and his buddies rightly called an “amazing sense of accomplishment” during their June road trip to the northern reaches of the United States.

“A dream I never wanted to wake up from,” says Piper.

Not just because they were there, but because of how they got there—riding 1,600 miles round trip from Anchorage on rented motorcycles, sometimes over narrow dirt and gravel highways with, at one point, a bald eagle that seemed to pace them from 30 feet above.

“But what made this trip even more special,” Piper says, “was experiencing it with good friends.”

The trip took shape 15 months earlier at a party where Piper, who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, and is CEO of CyberEdge Group, a research and marketing firm, reconnected with old friend Erich Steller.

Steller was planning a ride through Alaska to celebrate his 50th birthday. Piper was in, as was friend Russ Tooker.

The trip took five days over the Glenn, Richardson, Denali, and Dalton Highways. The Denali and Dalton (the notorious roads in the TV show Ice Road Truckers) are mostly unpaved, with potholes the size of beach balls that would “change your day,” Piper says, and tractor-trailers flying by at 70 to 80 miles per hour, stirring up clouds of dust.

The scenery, though, was breathtaking and punctuated by caribou, horned Dall sheep, moose, and grizzlies.

The payoff was the Arctic Circle, which, with temperatures in the 70s, really wasn’t that arctic. No matter.

“Absolutely mind-blowing,” Tooker says. “Never imagined I’d be standing north of the Arctic Circle.”

“That was Steve’s suggestion we go that far up,” Steller says. “Steve is very organized, but he’s also hilarious. He’s witty with a dry sense of humor.”

And a sense of adventure.

“Life passes us by too quickly,” Piper says. “It’s important to stop and smell the roses once in a while, or in my case, Alaska moose droppings.”