Sunday, August 31, 2008

Windy River Valley Revisited

Earlier this summer Ry and I tried to go down the Windy River valley up and over a pass and down to the Sanctuary River....long story short, we took every possible wrong turn made a 5 hr hike into a 15 hr hike and ended up looking down the wrong pass without a compass or GPS....we turned around. Since then I have wanted to go back and figure out where we went wrong.

Kellie and I fortunately had coinciding days off. I picked her up from the airport and we headed up to Cantwell. We camped off the Denali highway, slept 12 hours and started our hike in the drizzly rain the next day.

Kellie Heading Uphill from the River


We easily found the pass, and instead of going to the low point, we went up to the high point and got an awesome view of the valley below.

Kellie Heading up to the Pass


We made it up and over the pass in good time. Kellie was itching to fill the day and wanted to go up a peak....As the rain was coming up the valley I have to say I wasn't as motivated, but was happy in the end that we went. The views up there are beautiful.

Kellie Enjoying the Morning


The next morning we only had a short float ahead of us, so we tried to go up another peak....the ridge got a little hairball and we bailed after 1,500 ft....Wich was ok since I was so excited to check out the river!!

It was about a 18 mile float, give or take. The Sanctuary river is fed by multiple small creeks that dump into the Refuge Valley. By the time they all meet up into a main channel, it was knee to thigh deep in most places. At times the river braided out and would be less than 6 inches deep, I only had to get out of the boat once, and was able to butt scoot the rest.

Getting Ready to Float!

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The Sanctuary river flows directly under the Denali park road, which is very convenient. We pulled out of the river, walked ten feet and were standing on the road. From there we picked up a park bus, which felt like an Alaskan Safari, because it stopped 3 times in 20 miles to watch wild life....very cool!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Bomber Traverse

Ry and I started down the Gold Mint Trail a little before noon, on a amazing blue bird day. All the way down the trail I marveled at how dry the bushes were, and how nice it was not to be soaked....the memories from the day David and I had a few weeks ago felt fresh in my mind....

The colors are pretty prime out in the alpine right now....and so are the blueberries!

Ry Hiking along the Little Susitna River


As we started to climb above the valley floor, glaciers began appearing tucked away on the tops of the high peaks all around us. We went behind the Mint hut and there is a very obvious path of weakness that leads up to the pass. An indescribably beautiful area on a sunny day.

A Panoramic View of the Mint Glacier Area


At the top of the Pass we descended a few hundred feet down to an unnamed glacier, traversed over the glacier through the snow to a pass that looked down onto the Bomber Glacier. From there it was a quick descent down amazingly crumbly steep terrain, and then onto the snow covered Bomber glacier.

The Bomber Plane

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Its a little bizarre to see an old bomber plane wrecked up on the glacier. Wires lay exposed on the ice, and the tires rolled down the slope and look like round rocks on the ice.

Ryan in a Massive Morraine Field


From the Bomber glacier we went up and over another short pass and were then above the Upper Reed Lake. As I looked down the 2,000ft plus morraine field I was again so thankful that it wasn't raining.

Overall a beautiful day and a thoroughly worthy hike. I would guess that its about 15-18 miles long, with about a 5,000 foot gain throughout the day. It took us 11 hours, but we spent about 3 hours chilling in the sun at various points....its way to beautiful to not take time to look around!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glacier Creek

Caitlyn and I are both pretty amateur packrafters and we both had a blast on Glacier Creek, it was super fast water, with lots of cool bends, and nice eddies to paddle over and dump the boats. I wish it went on for another 10 miles!

Caitlyn Scoping the River


Me in my Suit


Caitlyn Dumping Water out the Boat

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Williwaw Peak

Williwaw Peak


Looking down to Long Lake

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Absolutely gorgeous day out, complete with sun, rain, and even thunder and lightening. All in all it took about 8 hours from Glen Alps parking lot to the end of the Williwaw lakes trail, up to Williwaw peak, and loop back through the football field below O'malley and then back to the car. It was about 15 miles with a 5,300 ascent. Williwaw peak is 5,445 ft. I didn't run in a lot of places I could have, and enjoyed a leisurely day in a truly beautiful place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pioneer Peak

The crack of noon club, consisting of Me and Lynn, had a great day up on Pioneer Peak, despite being in the clouds all day. Usually being in the clouds involves at the very least a pervasive mist, if not full on rain, but it was remarkable how dry and windless the clouds were all day. On the way up the clouds cleared for about 5 minutes and we got this beautiful view....we kept hoping the blue hole would travel over us....but it never happened.

I have to say Pioneer is one of my favorite Peaks, I feel like I say that about a lot of mountains, but Pioneer is just super fun. Its a big elevation gain because you start right at sea level, and then the upper ridge is straight from a Fantasty book, I kept thinking about Orks, and Mordor the whole way up....there are sections that you see from a distance and think, no way do i want to scramble up that steep crumbly rock, but the closer I get, little passageways in the rock open up like dwarves themselves came and carved stairs.....well maybe not that great but.....good.

I'm trying out this new slideshow feature from Picassa, anyone have any comments? Does it take forever to load? Would you rather see a couple pictures then sit through a whole menagerie?

Pioneer is 6,350 ft, my tech watch said I gained 6,980 ft, over 9 hours, walking about 12 miles...definitely could have been done faster, but there was no reason to hurry and lots of reasons to sit and chat. I wore my hrm, and I couldn't get my hr above 160, and felt maxed out at 140, which is really low for me. Was still a bit worked from Bold the day before....Great day out!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bold Peak

Saturday morning dawned like the last three before it....overcast, dreary, can't see the front range...blah, blah, blah dee da...but, it wasn't precipitating, which is always an occasion for optimism. An hour later rolling with the hippie speedball (granola and coffee!) I was out the front door with two objectives. First, to go to at least 3 garage sales in one small area, and secondly to try and go up Bold Peak.

So I left Eagle river with the first objective met, I'm the new owner of two free coffee mugs I never knew I needed, plus a fabulous free plant holder, and a wonderful pair of earings from a family that was generationally crafty...all in all a successful start to the day I thought.

Eklutna Lake Mist


I've been coming to Eklutna Lake since I was in the womb, and thats a long time. Its probably one of my favorite places on the planet. The beautiful milky green water always seems like a perfect spot for the Alaskan version of Loch Nessie to bob its head and eat kayakers....I've really been thinking about this for many years.

At the end of Eklutna Lake is also arguably one of my favorite mountains, Bold Peak. Its just beautiful. And true to its name, its a squat, steep, and snowy peak, at least on the side facing the lake, but the backside is its achilles heel, and thats the way I went....although I couldn't see any of this scenery around me because of the clouds, I still knew it was there.

So I biked around past the end of Eklutna Lake, then stashed the bike in the woods and walked down the East fork of the Eklutna river....and about 4 hours later I was walking in the sun, through the snow and above the clouds atop of Bold Peak.

Summit Ridge Top of Bold Peak


And to make it even cooler I ran into my almost Uncle Steve with two of his friends and yo-yo-ed up with them....we all got to enjoy the top together, it was pretty amazing up there.

They couldn't quite hang with my down hill butt glissade moves though, and I continued back on my own.

Me And Steve


Looking down on the Eklutna glacier and surrounding peaks....this is an amazing area.



Bold Peak Coming out of the Clouds

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Over all an amazing day with a 22 mile bike ride, 6,800 foot elevation gain, and a 3,000 foot butt glisade, over a 10 hour rain free period....a notable Saturday indeed.

I Love Flowers



Yes Those are Elk