Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Mothership and Baby Aliens: Rafting the Chulitna

Packrafting makes me giggle constantly. I'm not a water or a boating person and it just feels plain silly to float down rivers in little boats, and I love it. In the last 10 days I've helped initiate 5 new people into the 'sport' of floating...others like me that just didn't realize the huge fun potential out there. I'm doubtful everyone I've been out with is a new convert but if at least one or two get the bug....then more fun river trips!!!

Ry, Lynn, Rapheal, Bobbie Jo and I left town late Friday night and drove North to the East Fork of the Chulitna. We put in at about noonish the following day. Ryan, Lynn and I had packrafts and Rapheal and Bobbie Jo were in a 14 foot raft (mothership). This was the most beautiful water I've ever floated on. It was crystal clear. I could see to the bottom everywhere. It was amazing to float over the rocks and see how deep the holes and pools were.

Lynn Coming Down the East Fork of the Chulitna River


After a few hours the West Fork of the Chulitna river merged with the East Fork and there was this striking line where the silty water met the clear. The river volume doubled and there were some really, really, fun wave trains. From this point on it was glacial grey, but the silt was so thick in the river that it made a gently brushing/tinkling sound against the boats.

Paddling is pretty hard work and we needed lots of breaks when it was sunny out : ) The sand bars and beaches were all pretty appealing.

Rapheal, Bobbie Jo, Lynn, and Ryan


The canyon was probably one of the coolest parts of the float, out of nowhere steep rock walls appeared. There were some fun rapids to hit, but nothing scary.

Ryan in the Canyon


The river was pretty mellow after the canyon and so we would all link up together off the big raft in what I liked to call the 'flotilla'. Then Rapheal would steer for all of us, it really was pretty amusing. When a rapid or obstacle came up we would just let go of each other and float off...

The Mothership with the Babies
Photo By: Lynn Peterson

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The float took us two days, and we covered about 64 miles, consumed a box of wine, lots of good food and got stronger abs from laughing so hard.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rainforest to Glacial River

I've been wanting to do the Winner creek trail to Berry pass and then float the 20 mile river for a really long time. Starting out on the luxurious Winner creek trail, complete with board walks and benches, is as good as it gets. It was about 6.5 miles to the top of Berry Pass, the trail slowly gained elevation the whole way so there was no big hill climb to the top of the pass.

Erin and I at the Top of Berry Pass


Erin and I did the classic crack of noon start and about an hour into our hike we ran into Cody and his friend, also on the same late day summer program. Its fun to run into people you know in the mountains, we leap frogged each other for most of the trip.

Berry Pass
Photo by: Erin Kaldor


From the top of the pass the trail slowly disintegrates from a wide board walk to a narrow trail that is easy to lose. There is flagging everywhere at this point, and its not all related to the trail.. I'm not sure what is going on up there, but someone went buck wild with the flagging tape. But there was a trail the whole way down the mountain to the put in on the river and it was worth the effort to stay on. The bushwhacking looked pretty fierce off trail with the usual racket of alder bushes, devils club, and patches of deep mud.

Rainforest Hiking


It took about 5 hours to get to the river and we wasted little time putting in because the bug situation was pretty dire. This was Erin's first time ever in a packraft (I feel like I'm initiating a lot of people this week) and the learning curve was pretty steep. In the first 1000 yards she got sucked into a tree hanging across the river, my boat hit her boat and before I knew it we were both swimming. Luckily we both managed to hang onto our paddles, Erin grabbed my boat and I practiced swimming with a paddle after her boat. I love my drysuit!!!!

The 20 Mile River

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Since I'm a novice packrafter myself the only advice I could really offer Erin was, "paddle harder and point your boat away from objects you don't want to hit"...I'm fairly sure that she was ready to beat me with her paddle at a couple points....but after the beginning the river got really, really mellow. A great trip through some beautiful scenery.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Afternoon Apocalypse

How is it that I start so many things in the sun, and a couple hours later I will be covered in gortex hanging out in a hailstorm? The front range is a bad weather magnet. I wanted to try and do Ptarmigan Peak from the pass, but decided amidst the boiling black clouds and painful hail that alas, this day was not the 'one'.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Floating Down the Placer River

Some days I'm really glad I get the paper, I forget about things like taking the train or ferry as possibilities sometimes, and I saw an add about the whistle stop at Spencer Glacier. For only $32 dollars each, Raina and I caught the train near Portage and got dropped off 1.3 miles from Spencer Lake, and 1.4 miles from the start of the Placer river.

Train Tracks


After an easy hike down a wheelchair accessible path we stopped at two benches 15 feet from the lake and inflated the rafts. There were lots of beautiful icebergs floating near the shore.

Spencer Glacier Iceberg


Raina and I with Spencer Glacier in the Background


Raina on the Placer River

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There were two super fun sections of rapids, where it was like being in a rodeo, but after that it was more booze cruishish without any booze. It took us about 3.5-4 hours to float the whole thing with lots of take outs...would love to do it again on a sunny day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crow Pass + Pack Raft = FUN

Ryan and I enjoyed a cool misty walk up to the pass, but the weather seemed to improve the farther away from Girdwood we got.

The Raven Glacier


Looking Toward Eagle River Valley


Me and the Eagle River with Eagle Glacier in the Background


We hiked up river a little ways before we put in. I was surprised by how rowdy a couple of the sections of river up there were...but that's what is especially fun about the packraft....a three foot wave feels huge!

Some Rapids...

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eagle Lake

It's a beautiful place to go for a run or a hike.....





Friday, June 12, 2009

Rainbow Peak

I've never been up Rainbow Peak before, and it was only a few weeks ago that a friend told me about sunbathing nude up there. It sounded similar to Bird Ridge without the crowds. Although there was no chance of nudity up there yesterday, (brrrr) I could see off the top, which considering the cloud cover was a fair reward.

There was a ton of beautiful forget-me-not's, lupine, and columbine blooming along the trail, but unfortunately none of those pics turned out.



The trail was nice enough and going up was pretty cruiser. There were lots of different ways to get to the same spot.




It was pretty chilly up on top, I don't know why I am always surprised by this, I guess I'm persistently optimistic combined with hyper selective memory syndrome.

Walking Down the Ridge

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Super nice short and sweet hike that left more time for studying, and took the edge of this increasing anxiety that I am feeling.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hiking in the Sun

I've been trying to study at least a few hours every day, but it has been so hard on these 70 degree sunny days. So I took my studying into the mountains, thanks to the i-touch I can sit and answer NCLEX review questions anywhere.

The Turnagain Arm Trail


Excited to be Outside


Turnagain Arm


Turnagain Arm

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