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.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Alaskan Hiker

Saw this cartoon posted on Facebook. Seemed appropriate as I head to my new home, here in Alaska. I did manage to bring my ultralight backpacking equipment, my backcountry skis, poles and boots, and a ton of good layers. I'll continue to test gear, but under different circumstances....Alaska is know for its wet, cold, long dark, weather. Its also known as the most beautiful place on earth. YMMV
I don't really know much about Alaska. Other than Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless fatal obsession with the wilderness here, and the Iditarod, the snowy race done on sleds with dogs, I'm a total newbie. I found this map online. It shows the road to my new location. 

My Geo is back in Idaho. I feel some separation anxiety, but its not insurmountable. A pick up truck with cap-camper on back is on my wish list.
Stay tuned to this blog, as well as the sister-blog