Beaver Creek – Summit (no) Trail

19 06 2018

Kasey and I decided to take advantage of an early (hot) June weekend and explore her new stomping grounds in Fairbanks. Beaver Creek is a National Wild & Scenic River just north of Fairbanks in the White Mountains with road access. We slept in and got a little bit of a late start-we put in for the 35 mile float starting at Nome Creek at 1 pm._J6A8588Beaver Creek is a Class 1 river that meanders through low, rolling mountains. It’s beautiful in every direction. _J6A8631_J6A8635Lots of dead wood from previous forest fires. I love the interior weather-we had mostly hot & sunny, with thunderstorms rolling through at jet speed (which was a welcome temperature difference) and rolling out just as fast. We never got more than a couple drops of rain, however, surrounding us it looked like some areas were getting downpours._J6A8660_J6A8674_J6A8679Late evening Alaska sun! We finished the 35 mile float in 8 hours, including stopping to cook dinner on a gravel bar.  We arrived at the Borealis LaFevre cabin well before we expected to. It was a great break from the bugs, which were getting worse & worse. Unfortunately, the area surrounding the cabin was trashed by previous users 😦 The cabin gets heavy use all year long, but we were disappointed that users hadn’t been taking care of it. We found the small window inside the cabin not seated properly, so it allowed mosquitos in….Kasey got the majority of the buzzing & bites, as she slept closest to the window. After a few bites, I burrowed down in my sleeping bag to get some relief. It was still much better to be inside the cabin than out, mosquito-wise!_J6A8712_J6A8749_J6A8757Tussocks! We found the winter trail and started our 20 mile hike through the swamp, tussocks, and burnt forest. After about a mile, we found a channel that we had to unpack our boats, re-inflate them, and paddle the short distance to the other side to continue our journey. IMG_3096IMG_2886Eventually, we found the Summit Trail, which started off nicely-a boardwalk through the tundra! Which quickly turned into bushwhacking on the boardwalk, as the environment has taken over. Not too long after that, the boardwalk disappears, so does the faint trail & it’s climbing over downed trees from a previous fire & bushwhacking through alders at the same time. Occasionally, we would find the trail again for a short time. And follow it until it suddenly stopped. IMG_2895IMG_2903IMG_2910IMG_2918Wildflowers! They were starting to pop up everywhere! It was super hot & there wasn’t much water available (I got a little dehydrated). We eventually found small kettle ponds to purify water from. IMG_2923Eventually, we got to the easy ridge walking! We thought we might camp up high to (hopefully) avoid the majority of the mosquitos, but even on the ridges the mosquitos were bad. It felt like we had our own, personal clouds of them following us.IMG_2928IMG_2932We had originally thought we could do the 20 mile hike in one day (which can be done), but allotted two days. After a late start that morning, and lots of bushwhacking, we found the Summit Shelter unoccupied and in great condition, so we decided to stay there, instead of pressing on to the highway and getting to the truck at 1 AM.  It took us 9.5-10 hours to go 12 miles to the Summit Shelter. I think that’s a new record for slow 🙂IMG_4452_J6A8775The 8 miles from the Summit Shelter to the Elliot Highway are easy, trail is in great shape (it’s well used, crazy difference between that part of the trail and the 12 miles between cabins). We had some post holing through snow, but it was almost a welcome relief from the hot sun 🙂IMG_2943

 

Advertisements




Gokyo Trek, Nepal

23 11 2016

Nepal. Himalayas. Hell yes.

Despite all that is written about flying into Lukla (dubbed one of the most dangerous airports in the world-short runway, mountain on one side, cliff on the other, 11.7% gradient), we had a pretty uneventful, anticlimactic landing. Maybe I’m jaded from growing up in Alaska and riding in bush planes….That being said, everyone else on the airplane cheered when we landed  🙂

The trek took us 12 days, none of the days being very long-distance wise or a lot of elevation gain. However, it was the altitude that kicked our asses, backpacking at 9,000-15,500 feet.

Lukla.lukla

Living at sea level, landing in Lukla (9334 ft.) put me at almost the highest I’ve ever been. Rachael & I had quickly organized our gear and set off for Phakding.

Beautiful prayer wheels were abundant along the trek.

_mg_1930

On the way to Phakding. The first two days of the trek weather ranged from warm & sunny (60-65f) to cold & raging rains (40-45f). Everyone in the region commented that the monsoons were later this year than usual.

_mg_1931

Beautiful stupas and large boulders carved with prayers on them are commonplace along the trek.

_mg_2016

Much respect to the porters. They climb up and down the valley carrying crazy loads, no matter the weather. We repeatedly got passed along the trek by porters carrying 60-90 lbs wearing flip flops.

img_0799

One of many suspension bridges crossing the Dudh Kosi. Sharing the bridges with yaks, burros & cows felt like getting double bounced on a trampoline.

img_0918

The beautiful Dudh Kosi. A violent, raging, gorgeous river. This is the final suspension bridge crossing before the climb to Namche.

dudh

Namche Bazaar! Just above 11,000 ft. We stayed in this beautiful village a couple days to acclimatize. It was mostly foggy (this view was rare), wet, and cold-about 40-45f. Pemba Sherpa & his staff at the Khumbu Lodge treated us like family.

_mg_2061

We spent one of our “rest” days climbing up to Kunde & Khumjung. Khumjung is the largest Sherpa village in the region, and where many people higher up on the trek live in the off season. Everyone was so welcoming! We got invited into an older woman’s house for tea, where she told us stories & shared her potatoes with us. Afterwards, she took us on a “short-cut” to the bakery, hoping over stone walls and almost running so fast where we could barely keep up with her!

Young boys making faces at us 🙂

_mg_2265

The monestary in Kunde.

_mg_2244

Fall colors.

_mg_2144

Much of the next few days were spent again in a fog & cold. This is actually good visibility. Mostly, we could only see about 10-15 feet in front of us.

_mg_2317

Rachael climbing out of Dole. Brief window of sun, before more clouds & rain. Weather typically was nicer in the morning, then clouds and rain would roll in by early afternoon.

_mg_2392

Young Sherpa girl.

_mg_2439

_mg_2462

Yak dung drying. Yak dung is the fuel that heats every tea house in the region.

_mg_2525

Prayer tablets at Machermo. We escaped the rain and upper 20/lower 30f weather and went to a altitude sickness talk at the local clinic. Super informative & worth the time! Machermo is at 14,600 feet-it’s typically where altitude sickness starts affecting some people. Everyday on the trek, we heard helicopters buzzing up and down the valley, many carrying patients back to Kathmandu. The doctors in Machermo said that they would have 1-2 patients fly out per day. Gokyo had many more leaving by heli.

_mg_2527

After pouring rain all night, we woke up to blue skies, fresh snow on the peaks & sun!

_mg_2542

We finally had great visibility & sun! The views were stunning in every direction!

_mg_2708

_mg_2715

Cho Oyo.

 

_mg_2658

Young herder.

 

_mg_2739

_mg_2774

Rock cairns at the first lake. Cairns are viewed as makeshift stupas and everywhere in the Gokyo region. The five lakes in the Gokyo region are sacred places to the Nepalese. The Gokyo area reminded me of Alaska on steroids-stunningly beautiful, with 8,000 meter peaks, prayer flags, and yaks!

 

_mg_2788

Entering the third lake & Gokyo (15,500 ft). This area was so unbelievably gorgeous, it’s no wonder it’s considered sacred.

 

gokyo

Although, I got a touch of altitude sickness once we got to Gokyo (which I was able to solve with medicine), Rachael really suffered. On top of that, we both had acquired horrible sinus infections in Namche (which stayed with us for the rest of the trip) and the Khumbu cough (which lasted much longer than the trip 😦 ). We stayed at the Fitz Roy-They were amazing & so helpful, checking in on us, sending up pots of hot water & warm juice to help us get better. Can’t say enough great things about them!

Trail through the yak dung patties in Gokyo.

img_0899

Gokyo, from Gokyo Ri.

fullsizerender

We bagged our original plan of going over Renjo La pass to Thame, due to the altitude sickness & climbing another 2,000 didn’t seem like a good plan. We chose to descend the other side of the valley and stay in Phortse to get some different views instead. It is the path less traveled & definitely took longer, but well worth it.

Old abandoned Sherpa home.

01

 

Good morning from Phortse!

 

phortse

Yaks, Phortse, & Ama Dablam-by far the most beautiful mountain in the Himalayas!

 

fullsizerender2

Everest & Ama Dablam.

 

everest

Definitely a trip & trek of a lifetime. Amazing from start to finish.

 





Valley of 10,000 Smokes Traverse

11 08 2016

Despite our last minute planning, we were able to pull off a backpacking traverse on the Alaska Peninsula. Our plan was to traverse the Valley of 10,000 Smokes to the Coast……As usual, things didn’t go quite as planned, but we still had an amazing trip!

Day 1 was spent hanging with the bears at Brooks Camp. Since we spending week backpacking, (and not coming back to Brooks Camp) I accepted the fact that I wasn’t able to bring my long lens…..it still didn’t make it any easier standing on the platform thinking of the shots I could have got…..

Sarah, Kasey, and I met Nick at Brooks Lodge that night and invited him on our backpacking trip. Although he only had one night to spend with us, he was up for an adventure. Nick camped with us near Novarupta (approx. 14-15 miles?) and he made it back by 2:30 pm the next day to catch the bus back to Brooks Camp. Pretty awesome way to spend 28 hours and 30 miles in the Valley.

After getting dropped off by the bus in the Valley on Day 2, Nick, Kasey, Sarah, and I headed into the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. We found easy walking, mostly on pumice, and crazy, amazing views. The further we traveled, the less vegetation, the more it felt like we were walking on the moon.

Sarah & Kasey walking next to Windy River._MG_8578River Lethe._MG_8620Another view of the River Lethe._MG_8655Nick, Sarah, and Kasey hiking next to the River Lethe._MG_8820Footprints in the pumice._MG_8849

Looking back down valley. The hiking was incredibly easy, with spectacular views in every direction._MG_8895My partners in crime-Nick, Kasey, & Sarah._MG_8919Mount Mageik. There are crazy colors in the Valley of 10,000 smokes. Almost looks like a box of colored chalk exploded everywhere._MG_8932Novarupta!_MG_8952More amazing colors at Novarupta. We found ice melt for water & a small stream. Novarupta still lets off steam and at the vents felt like a steam bath at the spa._MG_8967

_MG_8987Awesome colors everywhere._MG_9097Day 3, we hiked up Broken Mountain & looped around Novarupta. We had hoped to also hike up Fallen, but the weather moved in & soon it was blowing 30 mph.

View of Baked Mountain, taken from Broken Mountain._MG_9101Kasey coming around the backside of Novarupta, with Mt. Katmai in the background._MG_9110Novarupta in the foreground with Baked Mountain in the background._MG_9165Little vegetation (and less water) in the Valley of 10,000 smokes. We did find some water areas that others didn’t. Dwarf fireweed, Baked Mountain._MG_9193The winds picked up early on night 3, 30-40 mph. Luckily, we had a 3 person, 4 season Hilleberg. We camped in a pretty protected area (as protected as it gets in the Valley), we still had to tighten guy lines a couple times through the night. We woke up the morning of Day 4 with high winds and little visibility. We checked weather, and was told it was going to stay like that for two more days, then break. We decided to make a go for Katmai Pass and head out of the Valley.

Photo by Kasey Keogh. Me & Sarah. This is not Katmai Pass.IMG_1370

Admission: We used a map to navigate with very limited visibility (high winds and fog) trying to save batteries on our DeLorme (we were saving what was left of batteries for communication with pilot). Anyone familiar with my navigation skills wouldn’t be surprised we went in big circle……..Day 4 ended up being the day we took our packs for a walk…….

That afternoon the rain came with the wind. Sheets of rain and 30-40 mph winds. More tent time……At least we stayed dry in the Hilleberg. Around 2:30 am we heard a large animal outside our tent, we didn’t invistigate-just made a lot of noise……It was hard to tell the next morning with how saturated the ground was, but believe it was a bear.

Day 5. Still raining sideways. Promise of good weather to come tomorrow. We pack up and head to Katmai Pass, this time using the GPS 🙂 The rain quickly soaked through our Gore-tex, we kept a good pace, eating while walking to keep warm. We wished we had visibility to enjoy the last of the Valley, but that was not to be. We crossed the swollen rivers and creeks. Finally making it down to the other side, we set up camp early, stripping off our drenched clothes and warming up with hot tea and sleeping bags. More tent time……

Day 6. Holy Smokes! Sunshine, blue skies, and over 70f. Visibility! Day 6 is off to a good start! We weren’t too sure which way to head around Observation Mountain. We chose the wrong way. Hours of bushwhacking through thick alders in bear country, making little progress was deflating. We finally got to a place where we could head straight up the mountain and rise above treeline. Crazy going from the Valley of 10,000 Smokes where water & vegetation were scarce to overflowing rivers and dense alders in just a few miles.

Sarah & Kasey fueling up on meat sticks after the schwack._MG_9232Coming down Observation. Beautiful view of Katmai River valley & the coast!_MG_9267Really cool rock formations on Observation._MG_9273A look back at Observation & waterfall._MG_9279_MG_9299White sand (actually it’s pumice). It felt like a day at the beach! Certainly was hot enough for it 🙂_MG_9305We had what felt like hundreds of river crossings to get to our destination. Kasey & Sarah crossing one of many braids on the Katmai River. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it all the way to the coast-the rivers were too high from unseasonably late snow melt (the Alaska Peninsula had a huge snow year….crazy, the rest of Alaska didn’t see much of the white stuff). Luckily, our pilot was able to give us an alternate destination he could pick us up at._MG_9381Deckload Aviation. Keller. Best Air Taxi EVER._MG_9397

 





Donoho Lakes Loop

31 05 2016

Perfect weather + 3 day weekend + Alaska = Pure awesomeness.

I hadn’t been to Kennicott/McCarthy in years, so when Becca suggested the Donoho Lakes trip I jumped at the idea. Evan, Becca, Shiloh (pup), and I did the 18 mile loop overnight and enjoyed some spectacular scenery along the way. Starting at the Kennicott mine we hiked the 2 miles to the Root Glacier. There we strapped on crampons and began our trek across the Root Glacier.

_MG_2986

_MG_2992

_MG_3023

Looking up the Root, with the medial moraine on the left.

_MG_3012

Crossing the next section of the Root. We found the Root relatively easy to cross, but there are definitely some sections that would be trickier. It took us about an hour to navigate our way to the other side.

Becca

_MG_3031

First Donoho Lake, with Donoho peak on the right.

_MG_3049

The scenery was terrible 🙂 Evan & Becca hiking towards the second lake.

_MG_3054

The Mid with Donoho Peak. Donoho Peak is approximately 3500 ft. above camp.

_MG_3081

Evan, Becca, Shiloh trekking past small glacial lake on the approach to the Kennicott Glacier.

_MG_3127

Moraine of Kennicott.

_MG_3135On the Kennicott!_MG_3157

_MG_3166

_MG_3186

The crew passing one of many spectacular turquoise glacial lakes.

_MG_3213

Storming in the distance. Crazy storm moving our direction.

_MG_3294

The storm quickly approaching on the Kennicott.

_MG_3332

After leaving the Kennicott Glacier we crossed a huge moraine back to the Root. The storm barely hit us on the moraine with a few drops then retreated back down valley. We saw a crazy ice tunnel in the moraine you could drive a semi through, unfortunately my camera (for once) was safely tucked inside my pack 😦

Back to the Root. Perfect trip, perfect crew._MG_3353





Elmo & Rachael do the Royal Basin

14 08 2015

 Andres was able to join Rachael and me for a quick overnighter to the Royal Basin. We did the 7 mile hike in, set up camp, then hiked a mile or so to the upper tarn to do some recon for future trips. The Olympics did not disappoint with more amazing views & stunning scenery.

This is what happens when you try and take a nice picture of your friends…..

A & R Royal Basin

 Rachael hiking towards the upper tarn.

Rachael Royal Basin

Rae Royal Basin

 

Upper Tarn.

upper tarn

Andres hiking above upper tarn

mtns

Andres testing his rock climbing skills on chunky choss.

rock climbing

Andres above upper tarn

Deer were pretty abundant in the area. Mom with twins.

deer & twins

 

 





The High Divide with Rachael

13 08 2015

The High Divide is a gorgeous 18 mile loop in the Olympic National Park that starts (and ends) in a lush rainforest full of gigantic trees that seem large enough to build a tiny house in, then rises to high alpine tundra with spectacular views of the Seven Lakes Basin & Mt. Olympus. Although the loop can easily be hiked in a day, spending a few days backpacking there exploring the lakes & soaking in the amazing views is definitely the way to do it. I haven’t spent anytime backpacking in the Lower 48, so when Rachael invited me on this trip I jumped at the chance to see her & check out some new territory. With temperatures in the mid 80’s it was slightly warm for this Alaskan girl, but I managed 🙂

 Sol Duc Falls.

sol duc falls

 Our first camp was Deer Lake. Sunset, ginormous trees, & of course, the Mid.

sunset mid deer lake

Another beautiful, sunny morning in the Olympics.

trees deer lake

Rae high divide1

We decided to take a long lunch break, siesta, & swim at the Seven Lakes Basin. The Basin is the premiere camping spot on the High Divide Loop, but fills up quickly. We planned this trip months ago & weren’t able to secure a site there. The lakes are pretty cold (as you would suspect any high alpine lake to be), but a perfect way to cool off from the heat 🙂

Rachael descending into the Seven Lakes Basin.

Rae above 7 lakes basin

View of Round Lake.

7 lakes basin view

Rachael soaking in another amazing view of the Basin.

R lunch lake

Wildlife was abundant! I felt like I was in the Disneyland of animals & gorgeous views! We saw black bears, mountain goats, & tons of deer.

deer hd

R HD

Rachael high divide

We took the very short side trip & climbed Mt. Bogachiel. Well worth the 360 degree spectacular views!

Descending back down to the trail we found these guys…..

mountain goats

mountain goat

Rachael looking back to the Seven Lakes Basin.

Rachael 7 lakes basin

Rachael fulfilling her promise to pump water for me at Sol Duc Park 🙂

pumping water Sol Duc Park

Rachael & me.

R & me HD

We finished the loop & headed over to Olympic Hot Springs for one last perfect night out, ending our amazing trip with a soak in the hot springs.

Morning sun shining through the trees at Olympic Hot Springs!

trees olympic hot springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Snowbird to Bomber

11 09 2014

I love Hatcher’s Pass-especially in the fall. The colors were perfect last weekend when Becca, Evan, and I set out to backpack Snowbird Glacier to Bomber Glacier and out Reed Lakes. Although I’ve been to both the Bomber and Snowbird a few times, I’ve never done the link between the two. I was excited that Becca & Evan were on the same page.

It was lightly raining when we left the truck, which eventually turned into a more steady rain with low clouds. We arrived at the Snowbird Hut to find some of my co-workers and their friends staying there as well. As night came, the clouds started to lift, and the tops of the surrounding mountains emerged.

The tarn below the Snowbird Hut with Alpenglow on the peaks in back.

view of lake

A few minutes later, 180 degrees from the last image, we were treated to an amazing (but quick) sunset over Snowbird Glacier.

sunset glacier

Evan & Becca at the start of our descent from the Snowbird Hut. We were all smiles until we realized it froze the night before & the talus field was a icy nightmare 🙂

Becca & Evan

Evan at the bottom of the talus field below the Snowbird Hut on the way to Bomber. Hatcher’s Pass has no shortage of talus fields and this trip was no exception. In fact, we took a detour and hiked up and down an extra one because we like them so much 🙂

boulder field

Evan taking a look at the valley we were descending into.

Evan

We enjoyed amazing amounts of fresh blueberries! While the low bush blueberries were past their prime, the high bush blueberries were perfect! Even Shiloh (their pup) thought so.

The fall colors were perfect.

becca evan shiloh

Although the sun was shining, it was definitely crisp outside. I was hoping to wear shorts one more time…..but happy it’s almost ski season!

fall c olors

river

Becca, walking up the glacier. It’s pretty wild to stumble across so many parts of the plane strewn across the much of the glacier. Some parts of the plane, dozens of feet apart, are still connected to each other by wires.Becca Glacier

wing mountain

bomber 2

bomber 3

bomber4

After we made the descent down the monster talus field  to Upper Reed Lake, Becca announced she was so glad to be done with boulder fields. I then realized she had never hiked to Reed Lakes…….I tried to, as delicately as possible, tell her we still had one more talus field.  There was a very sad look on her face. I think she found some solace in the fact that it is the easiest & smallest one of the trip. We had an amazing, beautiful weekend in the Talkeetnas!








%d bloggers like this: