Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Beginning: Kennicott to Hidden Valley

Warning Uncontrollable Rant: Feel Free to Skip

Whenever I feel myself apologizing to people who might read my blog in my head, I immediately try to shut it off and remind myself that this is my blog. So with that as my new inspiration to do exactly as I want, I've decided that this trip probably needs a post for each day. It was that freaking amazing, I would put the beauty factor up there with the Alaska Range, Himalayas, and Andes...big mountains with big glaciers just up the awe factor in me.

End of Rant

I was so excited by the day ahead I pretty much got out of tent at 8am and could not contain myself...I tried to be quiet making coffee and packing my stuff as the rest of the crew still slept away. By the time Kellie rolled out of bed an hour later I was pretty amped up and ready to start the day....understandably she needed a little more caffeine and patiently told me that I would just have to wait about packing decisions....twice...I should probably mention that we stayed out dancing till after 1am, and had run a half marathon before excitement can carry me pretty well through a bad hangover and muscle early morning antics are predictable and I've accepted that not everyone can be as efficient, instantly excited or entirely joyous as I can on early mornings...(see previous Valdez posts)

We left camp at a respectable 11ish and headed to Kenicott....

Kellie and I in Kennicott
photo taken by: Kellie Okonek


The trail to the Root glacier is awesome. I love trails and I say that completely without shame. With such nice walking it didn't take us long before we were walking on the white ice of the Root glacier. Fortuitously we ran into a nice man named Tyler who we had met at the bar the previous night, who was looking after a couple clients on a glacier hike. He asked us of our intentions (paddles on a glacier really puzzle people) and then proceeded to inform us of a much less painful way to travel on the glacier. With this new knowledge we were able to keep the glacier travel an entirely pleasant experience...

Heading To the Root


Part of the reason this hike was a 10 on my scenery scale is Mt. Blackburn in all its white glory stood tall in our path for miles, this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

"The mountain's massif is covered almost entirely by icefields and glaciers, and is the principal source of ice for the Kennicott Glacier (which we traveled on), which flows southeast over 20 miles to just above the town of McCarthy. Mount Blackburn is a large, dramatic peak, with great local relief and independence from higher peaks. Its west face drops over 11,000 ft to the Kuskulana Glacier in less than 4 horizontal miles. Its other faces drop 8,000-10,000 feet, all in less than 8 miles. While these figures speak to the peak's relief, one measure of its independence is that it is the 50th most topographically prominent peak in the world."

The Kennicott Glacier


This glacier is huge. The morraines are like mini mountains and we must have crossed at least 12 distinct lines. I'm glad that I have a lot of glacier travel experience, it was nice to use that knowledge to anticipate and assess hazardous travel features...if you go the good way its totally smooth sailing.

It was also really nice to finally get off the glacier and back to less shifty and slippery terrain. We ascended a Fos (lateral morraine with freakishly flat top) and contoured around what on the map was Hidden Lake. We picked up an awesome game/human? highway and navigated our way down back to Hidden Valley. In place of where a lake should have been was a jumbled snarl of glacier blocks strung out on the valley floor...something shifted in the glacier and the lake drained was pretty visually stimulating.

No More Hidden Lake!

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We traveled down into the valley as the sun was starting to set. I was feeling pretty worked at this point and was happy to camp. It was dark by the time the mid was up and we were inside cooking dinner...a great way to end the day.

Slide Show of Day 1
(Pics of me were taken by Kellie)

PS: We got the idea for this trip from Check it out if you want more accurate details of the trip. : )


Ryan said...


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