Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Willow Creek: Branching Out

After quite a bit of confusion on my part as to how we would drive from Hatcher Pass to Willow in 5 minutes after floating 9 miles I finally got on the program. Its unfortunate that I did not know there was a Wasilla Fishhook rd, Willow Fishhook rd, and a Palmer Fishhook road. In retrospect I knew where all these roads were, just didn't remember they all had the same fishhook part in their name...thought there was only that one in Wasilla....but anyways...

Krista, Matt, and I put in on the Willow creek in a muggy mist. The river was crystal clear with huge red salmon easily visible, Matt is a fishing expert, and he told me they were kings....I believe him, they were huge, RED and entertaining to float next too, over and with.

Krista on the Beach

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The river was super mellow, lower than usual I think, but still plenty of water to not do any dragging ass. We accidentally took a narrow but deep channel off the main river, no waves, but some pretty good practice maneuvering around steep corners and in between narrower areas...

I want to say it took about 3 1/2 hours, but we did it pretty leisurely. Super mellow, but pretty.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Granite Creek Float

Granite Creek was super mellow, narrow in places, with great mountain views. The fireweed is going nuts right now up in Turnagain Pass, the start of the last hoorahs of color before the white season is back upon us.

The World is Alive with Color

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Me, Kellie and Raina


Raina came around a turn, and oh my! Huge tree in the way. She jumped out of her boat and onto the tree, unfortunately I didn't get that moment digitized, just the walk around aftermath.

Darn Trees


I'm finding it very difficult to paddle and take pictures at the same time. Things worth taking pictures of either pass by too quickly, or I'm to engaged with not running into rocks and trees that I can't take pictures....I'll work on it!

Kellie and Raina


This float ended up being 12 miles, and took us about 4 or so hours. There was a bit of stopping and a lot of laughing, a perfect float for a mellow day out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Did It!!: Crow Pass Race 2009

This has been a goal of mine for at least 5 years. Every year the race comes around and I'm always in the same situation...under trained or over injured. This year my lack of dedication to running has left me feeling completely uninjured. I'm usually plagued by shin splints that leave me feeling like my anterior tibialis muscle is separating from my broken tibia. I'm also seriously motivated by the fun factor....if its not fun, I'm not motivated. Excruciating pain is not fun, hence the long winded explanation of my running blights.

But this year I turned 30. All of a sudden my new geriatric status makes me feel comfortable being slow, and ok with just finishing. So I basically said "F@#% IT!!" and decided that if they would let me into the race, I was going to do it. My goal was to first make it to the top of the pass in under an hour and not get disqualified, and then to finish in 5 hours.

I have a significant amount of history with this trail. The first time I hiked it, I was 17,and thought it would be a fantastic day trip....that day was a major epic. I think it took my friend Mindy and I about 15 hours, it rained the whole time, we got lost twice (who needs a map?), learned what cairns were, saw 3 bears, down climbed a cliff below Raven gorge, and ended the day exhausted with a new list of "don't do that again's".

Mindy and the Waterfall Below the Pass


Raven Glacier and Me in 1996

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I finished the race in 4 hours and 40 minutes, and 17th for women. Not a spectacular finish competition wise, but still 20 minutes under my goal. Plus more importantly I finally just did it and had a ton of fun....minus the river crossing and leg cramps!!!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Buttercup's Big Day Out: Matanuska River

This blog is as much for me as the people that I share it with, but I'll still preface this post with, I am a novice boater with limited experience, low threshold for excitement, and a new infatuation with packrafting.

Buttercup is the new boat I picked up from the Post Office as I headed out of town to meet Raina and the two Jen's to go float the Matanuska river. Although the boat is blue, and there is no buttercup'nishness really about the boat, its the name that popped into my head as the postal worker was handing me the box. She's a little beauty, sleak and shiny new.

Buttercup and I


I was a bit nervous because of the article in the ADN the day before about how the river was eating away chunks of the riverbanks. But my fears dissipated as me and buttercup bobbed down the river. Unfortunately there is no pics of me in the water...maybe next time!

Raina and the Two Jens


The mountain scenery is spectacular during this float. The river was thick and milky with silt, trees were floating with us, and I could hear the clicking of rocks rolling with the current at the bottom of the river. It was pretty awesome.

Lounging on the Gravel Bar


The Big Boat

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It took us about 6.5 hours to float from Glacier park to Chickaloon. I went for my second swim ever in a river, but it was a little different from the very first time. The sprayskirt on my new boat is great for keeping the water out, but its also effective at keeping me in, upside down under water. There is an "oh shit" egress tab, and although I was under water long enough to envision drowning, in reality it was probably only 2 seconds before I was ripping the tab open, and then swimming, or floating really. I miraculously managed to keep a hold of my paddle and boat, but was unable to flip it back over and get inside. I probably floated about 1/4 of a mile until my channel merged with the channel Raina and the two Jens had taken. They had spotted my boat without me in it and rowed as fast as they could to me. Jen threw me the rescue rope, I eventually caught it and they pulled me into their raft. It was 100% exhilarating, and terrifying at the same time.

I think that this was a great way for me to develop more respect for the water, and also get better at recognizing water features that are likely to flip my boat. Plus now I know that I can get out of my boat when its flipped. I got right back in the packraft again, but was a lot more cautious for the rest of the trip.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two Girls and One Dog: Running Lost Lake

I was planning on running Lost Lake today by myself, but the day before Krista said she had never done Lost Lake and has always wanted to....it was so perfect. Although we have never ran a single mile together we decided to go for it and left town at a reasonable hour to try and beat the heat.

Its pretty hazy down toward Seward too, all the mountains look very subdued behind the haze.

Kenai Lake


The uphill part of this run felt longer than it usually does and I kept telling Krista that only one more hill and then we would pop out of the trees, by the 5th time we still hadn't popped out, I wasn't even convincing myself anymore.

Krista and I finally Leave the Trees


The air blew so much more vigorously without the forest around to swaddle us...and I welcomed it. I was pretty much dripping sweat.

Krista and Loki


I love running. Its really cool where your feet can take you in a matter of hours. I especially like mellow runs where enjoying the view is as important as moving. Its nice to look at the flowers, take the random photo, and savor the moment.

The Biggest Lost Lake

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Awesome day out, lots of chatting, no racing, successful hitchhiking, and lots of exercise. Although Krista's longest run of the year was only at 8 miles, she did awesome with the 15 and totally sucked up blisters, chaffing, and muscle cramps to keep going...tough girl!!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eagle River Float: A Packraft, Canoe, Trick Kayak, and Blow up Kayak

I don't think I've ever taken part in a float with so many different types of boats going down a river at one time, but it was super fun! This was a perfect day to sit and float, the air was hot, calm and smelled like fire...

Krista and Loki, and the Canoe Crew, James, Jackson, and Emilee


We floated from the N. Fork of the Eagle River to the put in by Hiland Bridge. It was super mellow and I guess its a lot higher than usual. Krista's (sp?) dog Loki (sp?) was so cute on the front of her boat. He was nervous at first and then eventually layed down.

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I haven't floated this section of the Eagle River since I was about 14, and it was like doing it for the first time again....a born again river virgin...or something : )

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hazy Days in Anchorage

I rode my bike along the coastal trail and couldn't even see the front range through the haze...yet I could tell that it was a beautiful sunny day above the shmegma. The worst part is the smell...


The picture below does not do justice to how beautiful the sunsets have been with a nuclear red sun...if there is a bright side to the haze...that's it!


Friday, July 3, 2009

The Big Bear and Skinny Gazelles: Cantata Peak

Yesterday I felt so rewarded for persevering in trying to get to the top of Cantata peak. I have made three prior attempts and have always gotten shut down by no visibility and combination's of rain and snow. To me its not really a peak I want to do in bad weather, there is a certain amount of route finding and the ability to retrace the route seems important. Plus I mainly hike for the views, and all that effort to look at whiteness is super unappealing.

Its about a 5.5 mile approach to get to the end of Eagle and Symphony lakes, and then the uphill going begins. The views of the lakes and surrounding mountains truly can be described as magnificent.

Doug and Robin with Symphony Lake Below (Eagle is barely visible)


The route up is pretty straight forward in good weather until you get to the actual peak. Its pretty funny that after about 7 miles and a 3,000 ft gain that the ascent truly begins. This peak reminds me of the mountains of Mordor, craggy, steep, loose and seemingly impenetrable. Only until your in the thick of it did the route reveal itself, and even then a little looking around was completely necessary.

Doug on the Black Shale Ridge


The left side of the ridge dropped pretty precipitously, and to say the trundling was fun is an understatement.

Robin and Doug Looking off the Edge


The hiking was steep and scrambly, but never unreasonable. Spots that were sketchy could be managed by taking another route. There was no snow on the south side of the peak and we were glad we left the tools, and crampons in the car.

Summit Shots

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We easily spent 45 minutes on the windless summit sitting in the sun and taking pictures. It was pretty awesome to see the entire length of the Indian to Arctic valley (I've ski slogged it a couple times). We could also see part of Turnagain arm, Denali, and out towards Marcus Baker. Outside of the haze, there was nothing obstructing the views.


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It was still hot and sunny by the time we got back to the lowlands so we stopped for a foot soak in a pond...for Doug and Robin this turned into a body soak in the cool water....I couldn't stomach the thought of wet underwear and shoes.....

Doug in the Little Pond

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Slide Show!

I don't usually have a weight complex, its usually a matter of relativity, but yesterday I went out with two super micro people. I felt like a big fat bear, still fast and effective but large and lumbering next to these no-fat, lean little gazelles.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gold Cord Lake

I haven't been up to Gold Cord Lake for years, and yesterday I was looking for a mellow day where I could sit in the sun and finish my book. I was surprised to find that the trail up there has been completely redone, and its really nice.

Me with the Trail


I brought my packraft because I could. I thought it would be a good idea to sit in the center of the lake and read my book. All was going according to plan until the thunder started to boom, and shortly after the hail began to fall. I paddled to shore as fast as I could and set my boat up above my head propped up on the paddle. It was a great little shelter...after the storm blew through I went back out onto the lake. The water is crystal clear until it becomes to deep and then it turns into a deep blue color.

Gold Cord Lake


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Hiding from the Hail


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Gentle Dome

I thought I was going to die of heatstroke hiking this day. It was so freaking HOT out, and humid. My body clearly is not adapted to this sort of weather. I had ambitions of hiking out to Long Lake and looking at Tanaina and Kokotoya peaks, but side hilling in the sun and looking at the valley below was too unappealing to continue. Luckily I am adept at leisure mountain reading pursuits, found a cozy spot higher on the ridge and enjoyed my book in the sun.



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