Best Pizza Delivery EVER-The Tolovana Hot Springs trip!

10 03 2014

tolovana sign

The trail to Tolovana is part roller coaster, part luge. On xc skis it was interesting 🙂 Starting out at 2000 ft, dropping to 850 ft, then up to 2120 ft, back down to 1000 ft made the trail a little bit of a climb/steep descent over 10 miles. Skins on the uphills made it significantly easier, although the trail was packed enough to hike. We lucked out with daytime temps in the 20’s and around 0F at night. We enjoyed mostly sunny skies, brilliant stars, and the faint glow of the northern lights on the horizon. Pretty sweet weather & temps!

Map of the ten mile trail to Tolovona & elevation gain.

THS11MileTrailMap

The trail looking back towards the Elliott Highway. We were thankful for the snow machine track, which kept the trail nice and groomed in many parts. Although, parts of the trail were super icy (mostly down low and up on top of the dome.) trail

The crew-Ben, Becca, Eva, & Dan.crew heading in

When we got to the cabin we had a curious fox show up a few times the first day. Becca named him Albert.foxy

Sunset from the Log cabin. This cabin was pretty sweet-equipped with solar panels, LED lights, and an oven!cabin sunset

The middle spring! The best soaker-love the temperature control with the hoses. We did manage to get 7 of us in here, although it was tight!hot spring

Saturday we went for a xc ski excursion down the trail towards the Livengood-Dunbar trail. There is tons of evidence everywhere of a recent forest fire. This is one of two windsocks on the icy runway.wind sock

 Ben made fresh bread!bread

Deke and Lorraine made it! They are rock stars for making it on the 10 mile trail with dog teams! Here Deke is riding on the back of Lorraine’s sled.
deke lorraine on dogsled

They brought with them frozen pizzas & beer-couldn’t ask for better friends 🙂

In land in front of the cabin had been cleared and was at a slight slope AND glare ice. When we saw them drive in, we all ran out to help in our down booties. To say the least we weren’t as much help as we could have been & I almost got clotheslined by the dog team line into a tree. Apparently, I did a great rendition of the running man in my down booties. Once I got enough traction, I went inside and put on my boots-more suitable footwear for helping 🙂 Lorraine & Deke on dogsled

dogs

It was super fun taking the dogs off the line an setting up a picket line. We helped Deke and Lorraine give the dogs fish head meatball snacks and put hay down for their beds. Later on while we ate our pizza, the dogs got their dinner.dogs on the line

Deke & Lorraine with Deke’s team leaders.D & L

Lorraine sharing a moment with one of her dogs.Lorraine & dog

Pizza! It was a fabulous feast. Love, love, love having access to an oven!pizza1

A few of us enjoying a beer and a soak. Absolutely amazing place-can’t wait to go back!

beer hot spring





Skiing Prince William Sound and the Paulson Bay Cabin

2 04 2013

We arrived in Whittier for our spring ski trip to find that Whittier had officially become a slurpee. From the streets to the water in the boat harbor, everything was slushy with a little bit of snow on top. Thank heaven for Extratuffs! We left later than we had hoped due to gale force winds and high seas (best to let that settle down a bit), but still made it out of Whittier by early afternoon.

Perfect snow for a snowball fight. Eva nailing Dan with a snowball.eva & dan in the harborHard to believe this is saltwater 🙂 It was much more like a margarita-just add tequila! The view right in front of the cabin.The Bay This is what we found upon landing on the beach…we had a little bit of work ahead of us before we could play. The cabin was snowed in on three sides, but luckily the front was an easy dig out. According to the log book, no one had been there all winter and we had a little bit of issues getting the propane stove working properly. Once we got it to fire up, it really cranked! We were super happy on this soggy trip for a good stove. Temps ranged 30-40F, with lots of rain (as should be expected in a rain forest), really wet snow, and one small window of sunshine!stairs

Dan clearing out the top of the stairs.Dan digging out stairs

What kind of backcountry ski trip would it be with out a keg or two of Alaska’s finest? Jon showing us the best way to carry a full keg, something he learned well on our last PWS ski trip.Jon Keg

Ryan skinning through the snowy forest.ryan skinningAfter a snowy night and rainy/foggy morning we were happy to see some high clouds & hints of blue sky.

The beach.the beach Part of a spine and skeleton that washed up during low tide.skeletonWe took advantage of the short window of no rain and the only spot of blue sky/no fog in the area and skinned up to get some skiing in. We found all the steep stuff had slid, and the few areas that hadn’t were pretty suspect. Mostly rolling hills surround the cabin, with any downhill skiing to be had quite a ways away. Great touring though-it’d be the perfect area for a metal edge xc backcountry ski.

We took a modest run (on the left shoulder). It was slow as hell with the super wet, dense snow. Ryan, on his snowboard, didn’t fare as well as the rest of us skiers 😦mountainJon, taking advantage of the warm, dry spell (about 40F). Behind him filled in with fog (earlier we had views of Cochrane Bay.) Soon, all the boys were topless. jon Ryan, Eva, and Dan breaking trail. Setting the skin track was a little bit of work in the super wet & dense snow.skinningJon & Parker with Cochrane Bay behind them.jon and parkerEva helping me grill up the chicken satay. To say the least, we ate pretty well on this trip. Bacon & sauerkraut stuffed reindeer hot links, grilled pineapple wrapped with bacon, and the chicken satay were highlights. I think we all might have actually gained weight on this trip….eva bbqChicken Satay. I was pretty proud of how this turned out, even though it was a little more work than I had planned for a camping trip 🙂 I’ll have to fine-tune the recipe to make it a bit easier in the backcountry. It was super worth it though 🙂chicken Satay

 

 





Blue skies, nice Pow….a few recent excursions

21 02 2013

Winter in AK started off slowly…early season conditions and a terrible snowpack plagued us till January. To top it off, I took a bad jump in flat light and injured my foot, so I’ve been on gimp status for most of Jan/Feb 😦

Pre-gimp skiing @ Hatcher’s with Dan.hatchers Eva.eva

 Dan skiing above the clouds on Marmot.dan marmot

skin b & w

blue

Went snowmachining at -13F in Hatcher’s with a fellow gimp, the Pirate, while I was gimpy too. Probably not what the doctor ordered, but I couldn’t resist and the powder was amazing…..IMG_6696pirate small IMG_6872-pirate small IMG_6887-pirate small

I finally made it back to skiing after 5 weeks off! Blower snow above 1000 ft. at Pete’s North. It was fabulous-until I fell and re-injured my foot. 😦 Back on gimp status.

Jon getting after it at as the sun just crests Pete’s South.IMG_7227-small





2012 Talkeetna Wilderness Woman Contest & Bachelor Ball/Auction

3 12 2012

talkeetna sign

Eva invited me to join her and her friends competing in the Wilderness Woman contest this year. As usual, Talkeetna throws some of the best parties. 52 women competed this year (the most ever!). With only the top 5 advancing to the next round, the competition is fierce. I won my heat, coming from behind (apparently I run faster hauling 10 gallons of water than with an empty bucket), but didn’t make the next round. It was super fun to participate in!running buckets

Becca hauling most of her body weight to the finish line, while a strange looking moose is cheering her on.becca

The 5 women that advanced to Round 2 had to first make their “man” a sandwich, open a beer, and serve it to him on his lazy chair. He wears a Helly Hansen rainsuit for a reason 🙂

sandwich and beer

 

Then, they had to saw some wood, load the sled full of logs, drive the snowmachine pulling the sled around the park, and put the wood in the fire ring. It’s all timed, so only the 3 fastest women advance to the final round.snowmachine The last round again consists of more things any true Alaskan woman should know. Fishing for salmon kicked off round 3.fishing

Next it’s lacing up the snowshoes, shooting a ptarmigan (balloons), climbing a ladder to ring the bell at the Fairview, and killing a two legged moose, before racing off to victory. Here is the winner, a recent transplant from Virginia. She kicked ass!snowshoe

Later, it was time for the Bachelor Auction/Ball, where all the elegible bachelors in Talkeetna strut their stuff, all the proceeds going to benefit victims of domestic violence in the Talkeetna area. As usual in Alaska, the odds are good, but the goods are odd. 🙂bachelors

bachelor 1

Jimmie Sandy, a local musician with my favorite band the Denali Cooks, getting auctioned off.jim sandy

Sharing his gently side, this bachelor wooed the ladies by kissing the back of their hands.a kiss

Not sure where he managed to find a gingham onesy….gingham boy

Even less sure where this guy found this delapadated g string….fur

Even the BBC film crew guys joined the fun!bbc guy

After the auction we found the northern lights and a bonfire….then off to the after party at the Fairview!northern lights





Nordic Blading @ the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (and a little bit of skiing)

28 11 2012

I’ve been scoping them out for a couple years now, and finally made the plunge the day before Thanksgiving. I bought nordic blades. They open up a whole new world in skating, making the uneven surfaces and obstacles embedded into the surfaces of  lakes, marshes, and tarns easy to skate on. As Jeff put it-they are like the 4×4 of ice skating.  Also, I’m trying to make lemonade out of a lemon of a winter so far…..the lack of snow (zero) has definitely impacted my enthusiasm, so I’m embracing what we do have plenty of-ice! 

 

I never would have guessed to head to the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge to skate on the inlet had I not found a note about it on a local ice skating forum. We had extremely high tides combined with cold temps this week that made the inlet/refuge into a nordic blade haven. 

Eva and Dan heading into the noon sun….which isn’t far off the horizon this time of year.

Some challenging ice….Nordic blades make this stuff completely doable.

We found some beautiful ice! There were a lot of places where the ice was as nice as if it had been zambonied.

Jeff and Sabrina headed out with me a couple days later to try nordic blading. 

Tika seemed to get around just fine without skates.

I did manage to make it to Turnagain and ski over the weekend with Brian and Sabrina….to ski on snow that fell weeks ago. One of the only places that hasn’t been ripping out due to the cold, clear weather creating hoarfrost and instability was Tincan. We were suprised that it wasn’t as tracked out as we imagined it would be.

Sabrina enjoying the sunshine and temperature inversion on top of Tincan.

Just because Brian is one of the best snowboarders I know, I had to post this pic….it was fun watching him on skis for the first time since 7th grade 🙂

In all fairness, he did really well, and only fell this once.





Carlo Creek to the Nenana

7 08 2012

 Eva, Dan, and I met Katie and Will at Carlo Creek to do the Coffee/Pizza packraft. Starting out with coffee at Carlo Creek and ending with pizza and beer at Panoramic Pizza, it’s a perfect way to begin and end a trip. It’s a 15 mile hike in up Carlo Creek, then a 15 mile float out on the Nenana. The Denali area this time of year is gorgeous, wildflowers are abundant, I was stoked to be doing another trip up there. And, this is our last trip with Katie and Will before they move to Wisconsin so Will can finish his PHD.  

Katie, Eva, and Dan on the hike in.

 Alaska cotton.

Katie and Will hiking up the Carlo Creek valley past this turquiose mountain lake. Carlo creek is a crazy, beautiful blue color, like this lake. This part of the hike was really easy, and we found tons of game trails.

Will enjoying the blue skies and sunshine.

No short supply of wildflowers!

Katie crossing Carlo Creek.

Looking back down valley. Once the valley turns to the south, the easy boulders begin. 

My over confidence of how easy the hike was drastically changed when I saw the bouder field we had to climb. After climbing most the way up it, here Katie is crossing a snowfield just short of the pass. And another stunning blue lake, that in late July, the ice was just now breaking up on. This part of the hike would be crazy treacherous if the rocks were wet.  

The view from the pass. Just when we were hoping never to see another boulder-holy boulder field! The fun was obviously just beginning…..

Katie and Will wrapped in a sleeping bag on our dinner break. The winds had really kicked up, and it went from a tank top and shorts kind of day to where the heck is my puffy jacket kind of day rather quickly.

Once we decended to the bench, I ran into a large caribou that mistook my paddles sticking out of my pack for antlers wagging at him. I took my pack off as quick as I could once I realized what was going on and he kicked up some tundra with his back legs staring right at me! Unfortunately, no pic, cause this was one of the rare occurances where my camera was in my pack 😦

We had crazy winds that were constantly changing direction all night. And we woke up to the pass being socked in. Very glad our tents held up to the abuse, and that we made the pass the day before in clear, dry conditions.

The crew on the Nenana. I never imagined I’d do a seal launch in my packraft, but I did on the Nenana. Not seeing a gravel bar or eddie in sight, after careful inspection of the grass for sharp rocks or twigs, I hopped off into the river.

Katie, Eva, and Dan enjoying the splash of sun we got the next day.

The Nenana (for the most part) is a really easy Class I. Right after the river turns north and you cross the Parks highway there is a fun, splashy section of class II.





Multi-sportin’ it ~ Kayaking & Skiing Blackstone Bay

21 06 2012

We’ve been scheming for years to do a combo kayak/ski trip. This definitely seemed like the year to do it with the colossol amount of snow we still have. And the good news is my ski boots fit perfectly in a 20 liter dry bag in my back hatch!

The crew. Eva, Dan, and Sabrina dorking it up.

We headed out in the rain Friday for what I expected to be another soggy weekend in Prince William Sound. Luckily, I was wrong, and the gloom and doom clouds and rain turned into another amazing (and mostly sunny!) weekend in PWS. 🙂

Cool ice in front of the Beloit Glacier.

 

Sabrina is all smiles with the change in the weather.

Eva and Dan.

Eva and Dan.

An Extratuff approach.

Sabrina skiing the summer snow, which suprisingly was pretty good.

This was our compromise to getting two pairs of skis on the tandem. We  put my skis up front and Sabrina’s skis in the middle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get her skis on back without them interferring with the rudder. Luckily, it wasn’t too long of a paddle from 17 mile beach to where we skiied.

We lucked out with calm waters in Blackstone. It wasn’t until we got close to Decision Point that we got a little bit of wind, but the waves and chop really picked up. It seemed like waves were coming from about five directions. We camped at Squirrel Cove and the next morning woke up to sunny skies and calm waters in Passage Canal.

Love my view.

 On our way back to Whittier, Dan sneaking in a beer while Eva paddles. Pure winning! 🙂








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