Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun, Fun, Fun!! Hurdy Gurdy via Hidden Valley

I think that it is safe to say that I was not expecting Hurdy Gurdy mountain to be anything more than a round lump at the back of Hidden Valley. What I got was a highly entertaining ridge walk that looked extremely suspicious from the get go, but just kept on letting us through...barely.

Ryan Hiking Up Hidden Valley


As we ate lunch and speculated where we were most likely to get shut down at, I was still anticipating a relatively short day out. I feel almost retarded at this point because of my reoccuring miscalculation between the way a mountain or route looks, and the way it feels when you are on it. In this case the 'route' just kept letting us sneak through,...I was so amazed that we didn't get shut down...sometimes the opposite happens for sure!

A Steep Long Ridge


The three small circles on the map that represented mini summits before our true summit did little to capture the true magnitude of this hike. It was safe to say that we were open to exploring a different route down. Down the ridge and oh so far away now was Hidden valley, on one side of the peak lay Eagle River valley, the other side was the South Fork of Eagle River. It actually made a better loop we decided to cut down to the S. Fork...and away we went...until the way got steeper, and more cliff like, and then sketchy.

Uh OH..Can You Spot Ryan?


As I scouted a potential route around the cliff Ry was sitting above, where we were going to try and "down climb just a little bit" and from my angle I could see how truly ugly our stance was...sometimes its just better to turn around, suck it up and head back the way you came. Luckily Ry totally agreed with me and it was not big deal...but I think we've all been on both sides of the go or retreat dilemma.

Back to Eagle Lake

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We eventually picked our way back up and then across the mountain where a really nice mellow valley went down almost to the river below...this was a truly fun day of exploring a new valley and an interesting new peak. I love this valley, it takes a little more effort to get back into, but the rewards are great.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Misty Morning on McHugh Peak

It's been forever since I've hung out with my feisty red headed friend George Anne, she makes me laugh...a lot. It was nice to head out for a relatively early morning (10) hike up to McHugh Peak. Also has been forever since I've been up there. Its nice and simple with a great trail to follow over soft tundra and minimal scree.

George Anne Modeling Perfect East Coast Polo Roll


The Summit Block


Looking Toward the Arm


George Anne and I

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Four Days of WRT

I signed up for a white water rescue class, it was supposed to be packraft specific...except a lot of systems you would probably never use with packrafts...a little disappointing in some ways, but a couple things I learned were probably worth taking the whole class for.

Getting Ready to Catch Some Humans


In nursing school they always encouraged/forced us to work in groups to accomplish tasks, and this class had that 'learning' component. I already know that if you try to have 6 people build one anchor, it will take 6x as long as having 2 people do it...I think it took about 4 hours to set 2 anchors and get a rope across the river...but it was AWESOME to float across the river on a tension traverse system.

Floating the Tension Traverse


My favorite part of this whole class was all the float time. I got to do a lot of 'wet' entry ie out of boat in river, to back in boat in river...I swam across the current into a eddy..a few times, floated over a bunch of rocks, got humbled by a 7 person unsuccessful river crossing, caught and threw rope bags, simulated strainer was awesome!



Rivers are incredibly powerful even when they are only a couple feet deep with a 3 mph current. Once your feet get sucked underneath something, the relentless water behind makes it impossible to get up if you can't touch bottom...I wasn't really sure what to be afraid of when I first started packrafting, I didn't know anything about currents, holes, waves, or foot entrapment...

Simulated Strainer Practice

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The instructor Scott kept saying 'I hope this class gives you confidence' but I really felt like this class did the opposite for me, it gave me an awareness of the dangers around me whereas before I was having an amazingly fun time being oblivious....but I knew I was ignorant, and now I'm not.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Most Beautiful Day Ever: Triangle Peak

I am still glowing from the day I had. Maybe its the combination of endorphins and sunshine, amazing views and good music...not sure, but I have a new favorite place to go, and its called Triangle Peak. An incredible reward to effort to view ratio. The funny thing is I've been up here before, but it might have been one of the shortest summit stays ever... high winds, heavy gropple, and white out conditions do not encourage lingering.

Look close and you can see Denali and Foraker at the head of the valley, it's so awesome when you can see an entirely different mountain ranges than the one your standing in.

A look Down the South Fork of Eagle River Valley


As I was leaving Anchorage Brody called me and told me he was planning on going flying. I really wish I could have gone, but I was on my own mission and told Brody he should try and buzz me when he made it out. I guestimated my arrival on the top, and was incredibly accurate (helped to have a goal)!....

Brody Doing a Fly By


I'm so thankful that I gave this peak a second go around...there are a lot of the stellar mountain and lake views...

My Self Timer Summit Shot


I would really like to come back here and go up Calliope, the mountains back in this valley are incredibly aesthetic. It almost felt like an honor to be here in somewhat fair weather.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whittier to Portage River

A lady that I worked with put a bug in my ear about going from Whittier to Portage via Portage Pass, Portage lake, and Portage creek. We never were able to coordinate, but I've been wanting to do it so when Brody said he would go, we went.

We drove through a sunny Bear Valley, but as soon as we popped out of the tunnel in Whittier we were surrounded by clouds and burned off by the time we got to the top of the pass.

Brody in the Bushes


There is a really nice trail all the way to the pass, and then a overgrown but still good trail down to Portage Lake. Brody and I did some optional bushwhacking just to keep it interesting.

Portage Glacier and Ferry


I don't think we hiked more than an hour and a half before we got to the lake, it was a super short distance. The portage glacier and surrounding glaciers and mountains were amazing.

Luckily for us when we put in on the lake we did not have a head wind. It was marginally slow going, but the views made it worth it.

Putting in on the Lake


Boating on the Lake

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It took about an hour to get across the lake and hit the river...from there travel was much more swift and entertaining. Super mellow float, but pretty views of the Byron, Middle Glacier and Explorer glacier. Being in a boat on a river creates the opportunity for a whole new perspective.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Even Rainy Days are Beautiful: Hatcher Pass

I was feeling severely unmotivated this morning looking out the window to find gray skies and blustery trees. Then a flock of ducks went by in V-formation....I think those ducks have got the right idea...

After a little crown royale treatment with a friend who had just took the NLCEX, it was past noon, and I made it out the door with a plan. I love Hatcher Pass, its been a favorite of mine since I got my drivers license. I've done the Reed Lakes trail as an overnight, day hike, and run/trot, and every way is fun, but today I went for a trot. Trotting is not running or hiking, but somewhere in between.

The First Lake


It was raining pretty hard when I left the car, sometimes its nice to just get soaked right off the bat, so that way I don't have to be so careful about puddles and wet bushes. Once you reach a certain saturation point, its not going to get any worse.

Rain Drops and Fireweed


I'm now on my fourth waterproof digital camera, I've always been a canon point and shoot user, and its been hard to switch brands...but this pentax is a lot faster than the 2 olympus's I tried last month...thank goodness for good return policies!

With all the rain coming down the mountains the water was just shooting out from this grass, it looked so cool.

High Pressure Water Fountain


Going up was almost easier than coming down...I had some spectacular slides in the mud, some parts were borderline treacherous. Even though I got soaked and muddy, it was still a great day out.

Looking Toward Archangel Valley

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Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Backyard Treat: Ptarmigan Peak

In all the years that I have lived in and around Anchorage I had never been to the top of Ptarmigan Peak. When I woke up to a sunny day, it just seemed like a great idea to go check it out. I biked down Powerline Pass, and within 25 minutes was hiking up to the pass.

I love tarns, the water is always so clear around the edges and then turns deep blue as it gets deeper.

Ptarmigan Pass Tarn


The higher I went the more the clouds blew in and out around me. Its almost like the clouds are playing peek-a-boo with the mountains....

Rabbit Lake and South Suicide Peak


Even though the picture below isn't super high quality, I always love pictures that look back to where I started.

Powerline Pass Trail, Ridge to Flattop


I wasn't entirely sure where the true summit was. I came to one distinct top, but there was another craggier top not to much farther down the ridge. My watch said 5280 on the far one and 5255 on the closer to town top....the book says the elevation is 4,800ish....regardless it was cool to look straight down the S couloir while also being able to check out rabbit lakes, the suicide peaks, penguin peak, bird ridge, avalanche peak, o'malley I could see parts of the turnagain arm...the views were really awesome for such little time and effort.

Self Portrait

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I like hiking by myself. Its taken a long time to get over my "bearanoia" but now they don't really stress me out, I realize they are out there, but feel comfortable with taking my chances. Driving to and from the trail head is usually the most dangerous part of my day.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Berry Pass to the 20 Mile River

Although I did this trip earlier this summer, it was well worth it to do it again. Raina, Heather, and I started at noon, and camped up at Berry Pass, then descended to the 20 mile the next morning. The salmon berries were out of control on the Girdwood side, we snacked the whole way up, it was too irresistible not to stop.

Raina and Heather Crossing a Raging Stream


I go in and out of phases where I really like and then don't like the same thing. I don't know entirely what turned me off of camping, but it just hasn't been my thing for about 5 years. I've come back around recently, and rediscovered the joys of waking up with only a thin piece of nylon separating me from the mountains.

Berry Pass


The float starts off fast and narrow, but gradually widens into a slow moving, deep river. I'm convinced that being in a boat is the only way to travel through this valley...the bushwhacking looks unappealing.

Heather and Raina


Heather with the Question Mark Glacier

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Day 2: Hidden Valley to the Lakina River

I was so excited to write about the first day that I don't think I saved enough blogging enthusisasm to carry me thru the second and third here's the cliff notes version.

Long beautiful river valley, got steep along the river, side hilled, crossed the pass, abosulute amazingness met us on the other side which we happily meandered though on thouroughly enjoyable terrain. We got in the water for about 1 hour, paddled thru some exciting fast water, took out, built a fire and made camp. I am so in love with this world....the end.

Kellie heading up the River


The Awesomeness that Inspires my love of the World


The Lakina Glacier


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tangle Lakes to the Delta River

I had no idea that I was going to do this trip, until the day it happened. I was supposed to be at work, but since I work in a NICU, and I developed a cold sore, I couldn't go in until it healed...This takes a few days...and so hence the impromptu boating trip. Its weird having to call in "sick" but not feel sick.... just infectious.

So I tagged along with Matt, Krista, and their friend Tyler up to Tangle Lakes off the Denali Highway. None of us realized how long we were going to actually be on the Tangle Lakes, its funny how even though I could see it on a GPS map, my mind still rejected it...we read current, we got flat water. Which is way better than a headwind and flat water...but I swear I've never gotten such an arm work out paddling. It was at least 8 miles before we hit the "river". Luckily the scenery was AMAZING and I like arm work outs!

Matt and Loki


Loki, is Matt and Krista's dog, and he makes me want to get a dog just like him. Outside of the fact that he eats poop and can get a little needy, he was an entertaining addition to the trip.

The Never Ending Tangle of Lakes


A River!


Me, Tyler, Krista and Matt

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Amazing Floating River Flower Plants

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We left around noon on Saturday and took out at mile 212.5 on the Richardson at 1:30 pm on Monday. Lots of laughs, flotillas, and beautiful views.