Friday, December 27, 2013

Dale Caston's American Discovery Trail Hike

The American Discovery Trail spans the continental United States. It's an undertaking of huge proportions, especially if you intend to thru hike it as Dale Caston does. He'll begin end of March.
Check out his facebook page :

This is the first time Dale is doing anything of this magnitude. After chatting with him for awhile, I'm impressed with desire to help humanity. The Page starts out, "Walking the Trail to get People Thru Hell."
I like that.
you can read more here:

His thru hike will benefit a worthy cause.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What About 2014?

Getting some goals and ideas for the New Year is like planning a party.
Who do you want to invite, how much money can you spend, what do you want to eat?

I'm looking at transitioning to an RV lifestyle, becoming a campground hostess. Some have told me there are no jobs for us newbies. They're all taken.  But, I say, dream it, live it, let it happen. 

After some research, I put in my application with Recreation resource Management. I got an email with this place listed.

I'm still section hiking the CDT. I'm thinking this spring I'll head down to the Gila Wilderness, near Silver City, New Mexico. I've heard good things about the Gila, all the river crossings and fabulous canyons. This link takes you to a huge website where you can actually search for maps, read trail reviews, etc.

Staying healthy is paramount to a successful life. Eating right, exercising, a positive outlook, a couple good friends, some decent hobbies all play a part in good health.

Experts say if we don't write our goals down, we're much less likely to accomplish them. I think its true.

One thing for sure, my little Geo will still be part of the dream.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Clyde Park, Montana

Here's a short video taken of the tiny town near Bozeman Montana.
Its very beautiful here with high mountains and clear skies. Cattle and deer dot snow dusted fields. I asked about a place to hike. The store clerk looked at me weirdly and said, Well, not anything near here, guess the closest is near Bozeman. I'm about 100 miles from Yellowstone National Park, so that is always an exciting option.
Roads are somewhat clear. I drove towards a trailhead but turned around when the roads became impassable. Plows hadn't been down that far.
I'm testing some Sierra Designs outer wear. Performance is excellent. The light zippers however sometimes stick.
I'm also testing a boot traction system called "yak Tracks" these are metal and rubber removable aids that are worn on the bottom of the boots.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Shipping A Car From Alaska

I'm back in Montana working for a private guest ranch. Its cold here and I haven't taken many photos yet, so stay tuned for hiking in 20 below weather.

Seriously, the Geo has started every morning and I'll loving the sunshine.

If you ever need to ship a car back from Alaska, simply go straight to the port in Anchorage and check in in with Writeway Auto Carriers, 907-277-4549. They are on 101 West Whitney Road. They want cash payment, so call them to find out what your vehicle will cost.

Then, fly to Seattle and take a shuttle to the Tacoma port where you'll pick up your vehicle 10 days later at Horizon Lines, on 1675 Lincoln Avenue.
Their phone number is 877-678-7447

Several shuttles or cabs are available. The one I used was Capitol Aeroporter.  206-244-0011 They charged me 31 bucks, helped me with my luggage, and took me right to the office in Tacoma, very much appreciated after a red eye flight.

Immediately after getting my car, I took off for Bozeman Montana. It should have been a 10 hour drive, but the weather was very snowy through the passes. I loved getting back in my car, though, so even with the challenging conditions, it was good. I arrived in Bozeman after midnight, then got a motel and was up by 7 to go for a physical before checking into  my new job.

I'm very glad I made the move back to the lower 48. Following intuitions is hard and painful sometimes, but in the long run, its worth it. Some people tell me I'm living the dream. I reply it feels like a nightmare at times, getting all the logistics in place to start a new seasonal job in an awesome place.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hiking in Eight Below

There's a trail that leads down past the church to the Airport Road, here at Alyeska Resort. I hiked with a friend, heading to Girdwood, for a few last views in Alaska.

This husky is enormous and hangs out at Thriftwood, the local second hand store in Girdwood. I can't go to "town" without stopping by. Its warm and friends. They buy and sell gear, clothes, incense, spices, hardware, kitchen stuff, you name it.

In the summer they have an outdoor flea market on Saturdays. But alas, summer is over and its frickin cold! Eight below while walking to work, walking fast. A person has to layer up if you're out to play, but the kitchen is very warm, all the ovens going, so, we basically put on the uniform, a warm coat and gloves and go like nuts.

While cutting through a back trail behind the resort, I heard laughter. Just to the side a bride and groom, in just a dress and tuxedo, were getting wedding photos done.
Here flowers littered the path, her bouquet was abandoned nearby.

Christmas lights are up. We just finished Thanksgiving and they're hoping for a good season. Meanwhile, I'm flying back to Montana to work in the pastry department of a guest ranch.

A lot of things came into play as I made the decision to ship my car and fly back. I might return in the summer next year, to play and explore. Just a note to anyone considering moving or working in Alaska. Its expensive, very expensive and getting back to the lower 48 is hard in the winter. We currently have about 7 hours of daylight. The snow is beautiful and the distant mountains rugged.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Video of Black Wolf

Here's a short clip of a black wolf running. I shot this from my Geo while driving up to Fairbanks.

Here in Girdwood we've got tons of snow. I went skiing the other day. The bright snow helps keep the long nights from taking their toll in the way of depressing darkness.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Night Comes Early in Alaska

I walked to town to meet a friend for coffee yesterday morning. It was 8:30 a.m, just getting light. The snow and fog is on the mountains. All prayers are for snow.

Today after work, we headed to Girdwood Park to play some Frisbee gulf. Its an awesome place with ramps for skate boarders and people refining their moves for the slopes.

After a few tries, I learned my skills lie elsewhere. I watch, cheer, walk the paths.

Normally the playground is filled with kids. Its pretty brisk today and in spite of the perfect blue skies, the kids aren't here. I've crawled all through these forts and tunnels. Amazing construction.

As the sun set, I made my way home. The street lights are coming on. Its 4 p.m.

This is frost, not snow. The field is now navigable. An open invitation to cross country travel, the place is now solid ground.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Camera Based Tollway Rant-Caution!

Last summer my friend was flying into the Denver Airport. As is my custom, I googled driving directions. A tiny portion involved taking a toll road as you neared the busy airport. Fine, I thought, and put some extra ones in the passenger's seat. I put some quarters, dimes and nickels in a change jar, just in case.
Well, I got on the tollroad, never saw a booth. I wondered where the pay station was as I took an exit to get a burger and fries. I asked the clerk. She said, "there are no booths. they take a photo of your licence plates and send you the bill."
"You're kidding me, right?" I asked, stunned. "I'm from Idaho."
"Oh, they'll send you one all right," she assured me. "No one uses that road."
"How else do you get to the airport?" I asked.
She told me which frontage road to take and said it was easy. I followed her suggestion and never got back on the tollway.
Months passed. I didn't get anything from Colorado. I figured it was so little, maybe they just didn't persue out of staters. Wrong. I forgot all about it until a week ago.
I got a bill plus a $5 fine for not paying. I tried calling them. As you know, I'm living in Alaska now. They are closed when I get off work.
I thought about ignoring the whole thing.
What right do they have to assess me a fine when this was the first bill I ever saw. I know its been 3 months.....!
All sorts of fines mounting up to 65 additional bucks and criminal penalties were threatened on this same bill, eventually cumulating in not being able to renew my license. I ranted and raved to my patient housemate. She said, 'you're going to have to pay it." I knew she was right.

Check out this friendly website promoting that little stretch of toll way. I write this to warn you.....don't DO IT....take an alternate route, of which there are several.

I paid my fine via credit card and vowed to do a public service by warning you all. Its not the toll. I was prepared to pay it. Its all the added fines and threats, the head ache and hassel because these people decided to install cameras and send bills rather than install little machines we could pay as we went, like other tollbooths.

I know, I know, times are changing. Big brother wants us all tied to virtual banking. Makes me sick.

There, rant done, thanks for listening.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Video of Intersting Houses in Alaska

Just thought these creative housing variations would make a good video. Hope you like it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue Skies Call For a Serious Hike in Alaska

With periods of blue skies on a day off, I just had to get some real hiking done.
Not that I planned on it. I had to mail a letter at the Post Office in Girdwood. Didn't take a pack or bear spray, just headed out on the bike trail.
It was so pretty, I soon found myself heading up Crow Creek Road. I knew three miles down, it intersected with several possibilities. There's very little foot traffic now. We're between Bike season and Ski season. The color is petering out, but there's still brilliant red berries all along the paths.

This bridge crosses Glacier Creek. You can access Crow Creek road from a block past the post office via the bridge instead of going down to the Highway. Much nicer.

The snow is coming....easing its way down our mountains. The skiing is paramount here and a huge ski swap is planned for this Saturday from noon to five at the day lodge.  Good way to get quality gear and recycle too.

I'm enthralled with the various living quarters here in Girdwood. Two busses provide housing as well. Notice the stove pipes coming from the roofs. These were busses were parked along the road I hiked.
Norm's Falls, right off the Iditarod Historic Trail. Various side trails beckoned. I started down a few, turned back when they got sketchy. There's a lot of moss and few footprint. I decided to come back another day because today I wasn't equipped for getting lost or meeting any wild creatures. In fact, I hadn't even brought my hiking poles!

I'm layered up: base tights, North Face pants with plenty of pockets. On top is a pull over turtle neck, a North face hoodie with pocket and a Campmoor jacket. I wore gloves and thermo socks, with high-top Gortex boots.

I've learned, spend money on good gear. It won't let you down and over the course of several years, you save money in the long run.
Still, I do like  my stuff to "match". Most of my stuff is basic black with bright colors as accents. This helps me look reasonable, no matter if I'm in town or on the trail, cause sometimes I just do both spontaneously without preplanning.

I saw two moose as I was hiking. The photo is sort of obscure. But, they gave me the evil eye, so the best I could get was this shot:

I know. I can't see him either!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Never Die Alone

I've finally finished editing and uploading my current group of non-fiction backpacking books.
Everything Except Corn Pasta  is now available in print through
Its been an eye opening experience, this rereading and rewriting the work I did two years ago.
I think I've grown as a writer. The sentences are clearer. There are fewer typos. I feel more relaxed and open. I hope you enjoy the second edition, too. 
The cookbook has many pen and ink sketches added to it. I created them years ago while living in Georgia. They deal with food, backpacking, bears, and hikers.
Seems a natural combination to me!

The cover and new content is still available at Barnes and Nobel and for digital readers. I think the paperback edition will be very useful. You can even make notes in the margins as you try stuff out.

Here at Alyeska in Alaska we are experiencing the last of our color and still, tons of rain. The locals are used to the rain forest. I'm still not really used to it.
It doesn't get light until 8 a.m. and gets dark about 6 p.m. Not bad. I've been warned the darkness wears on a person.
According to the map I have of Alaska, we'll have 6.25 hours of daylight in January.

The views are gorgeous, still. I meet women hiking with dogs on the bike paths. Everyone is bundled for the weather. Next week I'm heading up to Fairbanks. We'll write a report on that adventure.
If you like, you can check out my other blog:
for the video of a hike with Alaskan guide, Sourdough.

Monday, October 14, 2013

CB Sports-High Tech Jacket and Gear Review

I'm working at one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. I've got my free season pass all lined up to hit the slopes. End of this month there's a gear swap. Then in November, employees are given a deep discount on new gear for the winter season.
Its been raining nearly two months now. My CB Sport's jacket is really proving worth the money. According to the attached card, it said it was breathable, waterproof and all weather.

The one thing I did regret was buying white. I haven't washed it yet, but it will be needing it soon. I've worn this jacket over my chef's coat, on hikes in the back country, and to town.

Its comfortable and in spite of all the rain, I've never been soaked through and it has not become clammy inside, like many rain jackets.

The two side zippered pockets have decent closures, not flimsy and destined for breakage. The inside breast pocket has a Velcro closure, which I love. It safeguards the wallet or glasses.

This jacket was made in China, often the case in America. The entire thing is made with 100% polyester. Machine wash gentle cycle, in cold water. I'll be trying that soon.

The hood is fitted and has snap closures. Its a good fit, neither too snug or too loose. There are no draw cords to cinch it tight. Sometimes I wear a long wool scarf if its really windy and blowing rain.

According to the card attached to the jacket when I bought it, it is an "advance performance system, high tech clothing for the ultimate challenge."
So far, I love it. The white is visible which should prove useful during the long dark winter here in Alaska. Plus, it should look awesome on the slopes!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Now in Paperback , Beyond the Journey

Now you can get
Ultralighters-True-Trail-Stories-Beyond the Journey  in paperback.
It has been edited and reformatted both for the Kindle or Nook digital editions while making the paperback available.

I hope you like it. Please share your thoughts or a review on this book. You can write one here in the comment section, or leave your review at I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for all the kind words and support I've received from the hiking-backpacking and nature loving community over the years. It means a lot to me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Colorado Fatalities-Rock Slides

While working on my second book, an Ultralighter's True Trail Stories, Beyond the Journey, I started proofing the section about the Colorado Trail. All this is in preparation for Create Space, a print on demand publication service. I took a break, went to make coffee and checked my e-mail. Someone had sent me the link for this story about hikers being killed just south west of Denver while hiking in the Pike and San Isabel National Forest.

Colorado is famous for mountains and rugged trails. Seems everyone loves to get out and enjoy those gorgeous views near 14,000 feet, whether by bike, by horseback, in a car or motor cycle, or on foot.

I love that state. If you ever get a chance to hike in Colorado, do it.
Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the deceased. Without warning, the rock slide occurred right before noon, launching 100 tons of boulders down the mountain.
There's really no way to predict or avoid such a rare momentous natural disaster. Thankfully, there was ready help for the injured.

May all your trails be safe.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sharing the Best-My Go-To Cookbook

My favorite go-to cookbook is finally available in Print. Just follow the link below to order yours.
Included in this updated version are more stories, recipes and strategies for cooking for a crowd. Bonus material has been added from my man camp  experience up in Yellowstone National Park.
CreateSpace eStore: The Cookbook Project-Sharing the Best

This book would make a great gift too for Christmas. Each page has a  little extra space below for adding notes and your own recipes. This is a family friendly cookbook with recipes for those on a budget, too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Video of Trails In Alyeska, Alaska

Hiking up behind the Resort is breathtakingly beautiful. There are wild creatures. I've encountered a black bear and porcupine. Both times I was hiking with a friend who likes to hunt treasures.

Now that I have my mountain bike on location, I have several choices for recreation: hiking, biking, and soon, skiing. Stay tuned. Rain gear is paramount, still, to enjoying Alaska.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Journey Available In Print

I've finally arranged for My Journey to Freedom and Ultralight Backpacking to be available, on demand, at CreateSpace.

The cover is a little different because of their formatting and help, but the interior is the same, except for a little improved editing.

I'm working now on An Ultralighter's True Trail Stories-beyond the Journey. I hope to have it available, for the first time ever, in paperback, as well. It is the second book in the Journey Series. You can still buy it for Kindle or Nook e-readers through or Barnes and Nobles. Just follow the links at the right side bar.

As I prepare my books for print, I'm editing out misspellings that somehow escaped me the first time around. At the same time, I'm adding more stories and details to the work. Please write a review if you have a few minutes. My goal is to help inspire people to enjoy life, take some risks, and never give up.

I've just returned from a road trip, beginning in Idaho, going through Canada and back to my job here in Alaska. The first photos can be found at

I'll be detailing the actual route here, tomorrow. Thanks to all my readers for their support and encouragement.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Journey Series-A New Look

Coming soon via Create Space: a print on demand option for e-books.
I wrote My Journey to Freedom and Ultralight Backpacking in 2003. You can still find a few of the first printing original paperback books, although its not easy.
Two years ago, I made my book available for Kindle or Nook Readers, through and Barnes and Noble in e-format.
You can also read this book on you laptop by downloading the free PC application which enables you to enjoy any e-book.
Within a month, I hope to have My Journey to Freedom and the second book in the Journey Series An Ultralighter's True Trail Stories-beyond the Journey available in paperback at
The cookbook I wrote for camping and backpacking adventurers entitled Everything Except Corn Pasta  took its name as a tongue- in- cheek hats off to Ray Jardine. He is renown for his early years of promoting the consumption of corn pasta. If you've ever eaten corn pasta, you know how difficult it is to find in small stores while resupplying on the trail, or how difficult it is to cook it properly over a tiny backpacking stove.
In my second book, An Ultralighter's True Trail Stories- beyond the Journey, I talk about many more trails, their key characteristics, some stranger characters and some unusual adventures. By sharing these stories, I hope to warn, entertain and inspire others to leave their comfort zones behind and head out to face the elements.

A third book which I've just begun will be added to this string of books in the Journey Series.
 In Journeys and Random Free Spirits, I'll tell what really happened up at the Hold in Wyoming, a strange and dangerous bunker-survivalist encounter that lasted a week. I'll tell why I escaped and hid, sort of incognito, way up high, camping alone in Grizzly country, then bushwhacking in the Snowy Range, later meeting strangers for stranger adventures near Steamboat Springs.
Of course, the crazy hike along the Ennis Bypass should be included, with its long rainy 41 mile rush to shelter, an honorable mention going to the cowboy who invited me to dry out at his home. I declined and he said he understood when I said I was on a mission.
Included will be a stories of other encounters, hiking in the Monte Bell Range near Aspen, Colorado, a struggle for identity, taking on the role of the all seeing Black Feather for a week in Idaho,  then at last moving to Alaska with a job cooking for a ski resort.
The Journey is a series of outdoor and backpacking adventures, a maze of sorts, a strange time of discovery and decisions. I hope to do the theme justice.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Photos Galore of Girdwood and North Face Trail Report

The bridge over Glacier Creek gives you a nice view of glacier melt water, glacier mountains and local artwork. Colorful and spontaneous renditions of ocean creatures...from Alaska!

Footprints show I'm not the only one to get off the beaten path and view the mountains from down below.
The tram takes one to the top, above Alyeska Resort where one can eat at Seven Glaciers, use the bathroom, get some water. All the water used and served up here comes up the tram in a huge container. If you hike up the mountain, you can ride the tram down.

Its over 2,000 foot ascent in 2.2 miles along the North Face Trail. It starts out easy enough, following a gravel roadbed, which turns into a gravel footpath, sometimes threading through marshy land via board walk. Once you've committed yourself to the climb, it gets rough.

Its lush and steep, often wet, then slick as a greased hog. I used my new grip-lock hiking poles both ways to muscle my way to the top, enjoy the view, then brace my way down. Lots of people were hiking it up, few coming back down.

They say there's a completion held on who can run up this the fastest. So far, 22.5 minutes is the record. It took me an hour and a half to climb it, enjoying the views and taking photos along the way.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trekking Poles-Initial Gear Report

My old poles were shot: the tips worn down to nothing, wrist straps gnarly, adjustment gaskets with near zero performance. Before heading to Alaska, I bought a set of poles from Cabela's: this written on the label: mountain series, 4 season, with the flicklock mechanism to secure proper adjustment. I checked....yes, there is a screw to tighten this mechanism if/when it should ever slip. As long distance hikers all know...nothing stays tight forever. 

I chose these Black Diamond brand poles because they were light yet solid. The snow baskets came with, however, I won't put them on until we get snow on the trails. 

My first test was on the Winner Creek Trail. It had board walks and wide paths, some mud made worse by days of rain. I did a short video of this hike in the rain. The camera is not water proof and so the footage is not idea. You can see this video at my youtube channel, or at

Blueberries are nearing the end of the season. You can still find some if you get off the beaten path. I crossed a wide Iditarod bridge and found plenty.

However, the farther down this narrow trail I went, the more overgrown it became. Knowing black bear and grizzly frequent this area, I finally turned around.

My bear spray is clipped via a carabiner to my belt loop. But, just playing it safe instead of sorry, I headed home.
The trekking poles did wonderfully, never loosing tension, feeling very good in the hand.