Archive for the ‘skiing’ Category

A Packraft and Ski Trip on Beaver Creek

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Winter has finally arrived here in Fairbanks, and while we now have enough snow to ski in some areas, the water levels on the rivers has been unusually high, probably due to all our late season rain. After some discussion, Heath, and I hatched a plan to float Beaver Creek from Nome Creek to Borealis Cabin, then to hike out to the Wickersham Dome mile 28. A few days before the trip we received word that the winter trail had enough snow to ski, and that snowmachines had been out on the trails, and so we switched up our plans and added skis in the mix. I was pretty worried about Nome Creek road, but fortunately I was able to get in touch with a musher to lives in the area, who said the road was still drivable. Hoping for the best, we headed out early in the morning, hoping to make it in without major trouble. The road turned out to in okay shape, with only a few sketchy sections, and Heath’s wife Audrey dropped us uneventfully. A huge thank you to Audrey for helping with the car shuttle!

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The water levels on Nome Creek were about what I expected, given the gauge was reading 2.7-ish, though there was a lot more shore ice than I was expected – uh-oh! We left Audrey to drive back to town, and headed down the creek.

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I was very excited to do my first “seal launch” in a packraft – sliding into the water from ice was super cool!

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Pretty soon we had to portage around a section of the creek with ice all the way across, but otherwise the floating was fun, and the contrast of the snow with the dark water and trees was amazing. After a few more portages we made it to confluence with Nome Creek, where, alas, the volume of water coming in from the main channel was less that I would have liked to see. It wasn’t the end of the world though, and the floating was still pretty fast. Heath is a pretty consistent paddler, so we spent much of the float paddling away.

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I did learn I made a serous tactical error when picking my gloves. I have a pair of three fingered diving gloves, but I couldn’t find them, and so resorted to using some thinner neoprene gloves I could actually find. Alas, they were not warm enough, and I spent most of the float dealing with cold fingers – my own fault for not being more prepared! I did discover that I could make my hands much warmer by moving the cuff of my dry suit past my wrist, which did wonders for keeping my hands warm.

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We saw a fairly diverse amount of wildlife, including 4 moose, a beaver, ducks, lots of grayling, and at fairly close range, a bear. The bear encounter was pretty funny.  We came around a bend, and Heath was up front.  Just as he came up on a stand of trees, I noticed a very large brown bear leaning out over the bank, appearing from my point of view to be looking down at Heath, getting ready to jump at him. Heath was digging around in his deck bag, and for a few seconds I thought he was digging out his camera to get a photo, then decided he hadn’t seen it and shouted something silly like “Heath – bear!” Heath then turned around, with a sandwich in his hand and we both started “Hey Bearing”. Fortunately, after one short growl, the bear took off and we didn’t see it again. It definitely provided a nice adrenaline boost!

The float was a very interesting experience. As the day progressed, we started seeing more and more ice, and by the end of the day the river was at times packed with small pieces of ice, and a few larger bits.

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Occasionally it was hard to paddle, as there wasn’t always room get your paddle into the water. Fortunately Beaver Creek is pretty mellow and there are not any rapids of note, and wide enough that there were few sweepers. It was an awesome experience, listening to the hiss of the ice bumping around as we floated along. We did have to portage one small ice jam, which fortunately wasn’t a big deal. Ice built up on our packs and our paddles, but didn’t seem to stick to the boats at all. I was a bit worried that my boat would be punctured by a sharp piece of ice, but that didn’t happen, and eventually I just started plowing though the ice. Alas, we spent the last few hours on the river in the dark, which made for a bit of a stressful end to the float. I was very happy to see Borealis cabin! On the upside, while trying to see how deep the water was I saw a huge grayling just off the edge of the shore ice. After looking around, it soon became apparent there were grayling everywhere, and by the light of our headlamps they stood out in the water like ghosts – an amazing sight!

We arrived at Borealis, and I was very happy to take my dry suit off and enjoy a nice warm, dry cabin. I had brought an InReach gadget that allows (supposedly!) two way texting using satellites, but alas, after two hours of fiddling I couldn’t get it to receive texts, just to send them.

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I have had it work great in the past, but this time I couldn’t for the life of me get it to stay connected to my smartphone, which was a huge bummer as we were pretty worried about Audrey making the drive back out on Nome Creek road, and I was sort of counting on it to arrange a ride back with my friend Tom. Fortunately the tracking feature was working, however the messaging part was a bust. YMMV. I am not sure I am taking it on any more trips..

The next morning we headed out, crossed the creek in the pack rafts, and started over to the winter trail. There is a little creek that is often not very well frozen a half mile or so from the main river, so we dragged our pack rafts behind us like sleds, which worked great. Pack rafts apparently make pretty good sleds!

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The creek turned out to be frozen, but I was excited to see snowmachine tracks on the other side – the trail was broken out! We packed up, put on skis, and enjoyed a fantastic ski out. The snow was fast, and the skiing was great, considering there was only 10″ of snow.

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We zoomed out, enjoying the fast snow.

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I was annoyed to find out that my packrafting pack, a older Arc’teryx waterproof pack, is moderately horrible for skiing – its skinny tall shape and minimal suspension made it very tipsy and it was constantly trying to tip me over. I survived though, and really enjoyed the ski out. At about halfway Heath got enough cell signal to receive emails and to learn Audrey made it out safely, and I called our ride, Tom, to make sure he was still going to pick us up, and that he knew the skiing was fantastic, and should come early and get some skiing in. Tom said he was on his way, and we ran into him about 3 miles from the parking lot, out for his second ski of the year. The remainder of the ski was uneventful, though I did have a crash right in front of Lance Mackey who was training his dog team with a 4-wheeler. I think he was amused, but I felt pretty self conscious trying to get up with a heavy pack while he was waiting for me to get out of the way.

A huge thank you to Audrey and Tom for providing rides – this trip wouldn’t have been possible without you guys, and major kudos to Heath for coming up with the original idea and making the trip possible!

Heath said several times this trip is definitely something to do again, and I 100% agree – it was a fantastic experience.

I think I would do a few things differently:

  • I would bring “real gloves” or something a lot warmer than the thin gloves I brought. If anyone has suggestions I would love to hear them.
  • I would bring something to help get out of the water and onto the ice.  I think a several foot board with a leash with some 16d nails in it would be very handy, or perhaps the small ice picks like ice fisherman use.  The board could probably be burned once the floating was done, and the nails salvaged.
  • I debated bringing my dry suit, and ended up bringing it, and was very happy I did.  It made this trip possible, and more importantly fun – it would have been fairly miserable without it unless I was very, very careful to stay dry.
  • Heath used Alpacka’s semi-dry suit, and loved it.  I think I have one of those in my future!
  • I would leave earlier so the end of the day floating in the dark wouldn’t be necessary.  I might try camping at the put in to get an early start, or breaking the float up into two days.
  • Other versions of this trip abound: coming out to the Colorado creek trailhead, to mile 28 via Crowberry, or back to Nome Creek would be fun and possible.  I expect the winter trail would be skiable in the more remote areas, but of course it wouldn’t be broken out.
  • I wouldn’t do this trip if there were lots of ice at the put-in, it is a long way out via any of the reasonable bail-out points.
  • I need to rework my pack attachment system for winter floats. I use two straps with “ladder buckles”, but they iced up and were very hard to undo.  Heath used P-cord and it seemed like he had fewer problems.
  • I used Surly junk straps to attach the skis to my boat; that was a mistake, as they took forever to get off, because they were so iced up.

Sorry for such a long post — this trip was fabulous and I thought it deserved enough words to do it justice!

Winter..

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

After a fantastically long fall, winter has finally arrived here in Interior Alaska. Ms Marsh and I left Fairbanks for a quick overnighter at Eleazar’s cabin in the BLM White Mountains NRA.

We left a bit late, and got on the trail sometime after 2pm, and it was soon dark. I was surprised by all the snow, perhaps skis would have been a better choice..

Regardless, it was a fun hike, and Marsh and I enjoyed an evening mellowing out in Eleazar’s. The next morning we awoke to a bit of wind, and a bit more snow. The hike out was as fun as the hike in, but with a bit more daylight.

It was simple and easy overnighter, and got me thinking about winter adventures of all sorts. Thanks for the motivation for this trip Marsh! This winter is going to be fantastic!

The Dunbar to Tolovana!

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

I have wanted to ski the Dunbar Trail to Tolovana Hotsprings for years now, and I finally got a chance! Tom, Remus, and I set out early on a fine Sunday morning, driving up to the end of Murphy Dome, then strapping on our skis (or in Remus’s case, dog booties) and headed down the trail.

The first 10 miles or so were all downhill to the Chatanika River. Once down to the Chatanika, it was not entirely clear how to get to the Dunbar, so Tom and I wandered around for a while, passing though a surprising large subdivision filled with cabins of all shapes and sizes looking for trails that were heading in the right direction and not marked with “No Trespassing!” signs. Eventually we hit the river, then headed down it a ways hoping to see were the Dunbar crosses. After about a half hour we turned around and headed back after not seeing anything. We retraced our ski tracks and heading up river we quickly found were the dunbar crosses, and turned off the river and headed to the hotsprings.

The trail was in amazingly good shape, nice and firm making for great skiing. The trail was surprisingly scenic for a winter trail though black spruce forest and swamp. The dunbar is pretty straight, occasionally making small jogs for no apparent reason. However the trail occasionally cut off the dunbar to follow a swamp or lake for a while for some chance of scenery. At one point we crossed a strange bridge in the middle of nowhere – sort of amusing, as to get to the bridge you had to cross a ton of very wet swamp, several small creeks, and the Chatanika River.

At about half way the dunbar climbs up a short hill, and near the top there was a wall tent platform, but alas no wall tent.

As I understand it, the folks running Tolovana Hotsprings have a warming tent here, which I am sure is very welcome in the colder parts of the winter. We enjoyed a bag of pre-cooked bacon to celebrate being half way, then zoomed down the hill. On the other side of the hill the trail got a bit narrower and a bit more overgrown, but otherwise was still very easy to follow.

Remus was a bit bemused by the length of this trip – after about 30 miles I think he started lying down and taking a nap when ever we stopped.

There were a couple small wind blown lakes that we had to cross and we had to be careful we didn’t miss were the trail exited the lake.

Eventually we reached the turn off for Tolovana, and headed to the hotsprings.

The trail from the Dunbar crosses some large open fields and swamps that were very beatiful when lit by the low angle evening sun.

Where the trail crosses the Tolovana River I was amazed how incised the banks are, and wrote off pack-rafting the Tolovana River, as the views of the banks would get old quickly I think. The drop down to the river and back up was very steep, and called for a bit of walking.

The sun went behind the hill just as we crossed the final swamp before the short climb to Tolovana.

As soon as we hit the trail up to the hot-springs Remus realized were we were, and spent the final mile running ahead and looking back at us, giving us “hurry up, we are almost there!” look about a thousand times. It must be hard to be a dog, and not know when you head off for a walk if it is going to be 5 miles or 50.

We finally arrived at the hotsprings just before sunset where we meet up with Henry, who had came in the short way, and had the cabin warmed up and water ready for us. I immediately started cooking dinner, and after chowing down we all headed off to enjoy the hot waters. The next day we spent the day eating, talking, soaking, and goofing off.

Henry entertained us with many stories of his bike racing days, and discussion of all things bike related among other things. My favorite tub at Tolovana, the middle one, had a huge amount of alge growing in it but Tom bravely volunteered to clean it up.

I took a short walk over to the airstrip, but eventually turned back as the lounging footwear I had brought, crocs, where filling with snow even with the plastic bags I had over my socks. The evening was spent with more chatting, eating, and soaking. The next day we headed out the short way to the Eliot Highway in a few inches of fresh snow, and back to town.

Thanks Tom and Henry for a truly wonderful trip, and to Nancy for letting me skip out on parenting duties for two nights. I have not skied much this year, and I think this trip just about doubled my season’s milage. Perhaps it is not recommended to do that in one 50 mile push, but I survived with minimal damage – hurrah!

The route in from Murphy Dome is about 46 miles, and took us about 13 hours which included a fair number of snack stops and several miles of extra wandering around. It was good skiing, but would have been top notch snowbiking, at least when we did it. There are a couple of tricky spots, but otherwise it was fairly straightforward. There are a number of small lakes and swamps to cross, and it looked like it could be easy to loose the trail in those spots, so budget some time for that.

And Now, Skiing!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I took a bit of a break from biking and did a short ski in the Angel Creek valley near Chena Hotsprings, with Tom and Remus. It was fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

Our recent snow dump has given us a fair bit of white fluffy goodness.. a little over a foot or so of new stuff in this location.

We stopped briefly at the new Lower Angel Creek cabin and peeked inside. The new cabin has wonderful view and is very large. It should make a nice option for larger groups and families. Wonderful job State Parks!

A Iditarod Trail Invitational writeup is coming soon, I have been slacking.

The last ski trip of the season..

Monday, April 4th, 2011

A week after the Whites 100, I headed back out to the same area for a nice, mellow two night trip, this time on skis. I have not spent a lot of time on skis this year, instead focasing on biking, so I had been looking forward to some good quality spent gliding effortlessly over the snow (vs pushing the bike though the warm mush). Heike, Ms Marsh, Tom, and I headed out of town on a warm and sunny day, and after 60 miles or so of driving, left the trail head at mile 57 of the Eliot highway at around noon. The skiing was fantastic, and the weather was perfect, clear and sunny. Our plan was to spend the first night at Wolf Run Cabin, then head to Caribou Bluff cabin via Windy Gap, and then head back out to the mile 57 trail head. The first day was a fairly mellow 23 mile ski though burned spruce forests..

open tussock fields..

..and eventually across Beaver Creek and to Wolf Run cabin.
There were lots of wolf tracks on Beaver Creek. Perhaps the cabin was aptly named..

We spent the evening eating, goofing off, and generally enjoying being out in the wilderness. In the morning we headed out on our way to Caribou Bluff cabin, a leisurely 20 mile ski. The snow was very fast making for pleasant skiing and the views were fantastic!

A mile or so before reaching Windy Gap we were treated to views of Windy Arch.

The high point of the day was a flat ridge top with a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains.

After dropping down to Fossil Creek we stopped at Windy Gap cabin where a party of snowmachiners were just getting ready to leave. Heike used her “Super German” powers to snag a couple of beers from them, and hung out for a while in the warm cabin sipping beer. Eventually the beer was consumed and we headed back out on the trail and continued on to Caribou Bluff. This section of trail was very fun, with unbelievable fast snow and wonderful weather. Heike was skating and with the wide smooth trails she disappeared down the trail like a bullet. Eventually I arrived at the cabin, a little toasted from all the sun and the (single – I am a lightweight) beer.

The evening was spent goofing off, reading magazines, and talking. The cabin had a fairly new copy of Velo News which with its lycra clad roadies provided some strange but interesting reading. Others found the copy of US Magazine or the New Scientist to their tastes. Its amazing how much sun we have now, and how bright and warm it is. Remus, alas, had to satisfy himself with a raw hide chew.

This cabin is in a truly beautiful location and I really enjoy spending time here.

After lots of eating and socializing ( sometimes it appears that trips are just a chance to eat junk food without guilt) we hit the sack, and in the morning headed back out to the parking lot. The ski out was fairly uneventful, but scenic. Just after leaving Carabou Bluff we passed a partially eaten moose.

It appeared that the moose was killed by wolves, though someone had placed cut logs around it, as if to arrange seating around it.

Strange, but perhaps they were watching the Ravens, as the snow was covered with their tracks. Remus required some convincing that the moose was not one giant dog treat laid out for his munching pleasure. The rest of the way out was pretty uneventful, mellow ski out. I had not done enough skiing this year, so my feet got a bit tore up by the time we reached the parking lot, but nothing too major.

It was a fantastic trip and a great way to end the ski season. It was fun enough to make me question spending so much time on the snow bike. Almost…

A big thanks to Heike, Tom, and Ms Marsh for making this trip happen – it was a great way to wrap up the season.

Kids in the Whites

Monday, March 7th, 2011

On a brisk spring morning the family, three dogs, and I loaded up into the truck and headed off on a ski trip in the White Mountains. We had been invited out to join the Rozell family and several other folks on a trip out to Eleazar’s Cabin, which is about 12 miles one way. The Rozells have a daughter who is in Lizzy and Molly’s class at Bunnell House, and they were looking forward to spending the weekend together. We had abandoned plans to head out to stiles creek cabin due a large snow fall and high winds that made drifts deep enough that State Park’s trail breakers got stuck right out of the parking lot. Bailing on this trip was quite a disappointment to the girls – they were really looking forward to the trip. Fortuately, the weather for this weekend was quite a bit nicer, with a forecast for a fairly standard Interior Alaska spring – Lows of 0 to -20f at night, and highs of 10 to 20f above. We are now getting lots of sunlight making for bright and warm days. After a bit of a delayed start, we connected with the Rozells at Alaska Coffee Rosters and after getting a bit of caffene, headed out to the trailhead. The trailhead was a bit of a mad house, with a party of snow bikers, a musher, and a large posse of snow machines all in various stages of arriving or departing. We eventually got going after a couple of mishaps, including discovering that one of our party left the poles used to haul their child hauling chariot, leaving us with three kids and only the double chariot that seats two. Fortunately Molly was willing to ride on top of the gear hauling sled so we headed down the trail while one of the adults zipped back to town to retrieve the poles.

The 4 and a half year olds started off the day walking, and were little troopers. The rest of the day was a mix of slow adult walking / fast 4 1/2 year old walking …

and skiing with occasional stops for snacks and drinks.

It was a bit slow at times..

Molly got to ride the “green horse” on the way in and out, and was quite a trooper. She fell off quite a few times, but was quick to jump back on.. generally it worked like this:

Then this..

And finally this:

And we were back in business.
After a full day of slow travel we reached the cabin, were we caught up with the rest of the adults, hung out, ate, and generally had fun. The twins were super excited to explore the cabin, climbing around in the loft, going up and down the ladders, and otherwise having lots of fun. Eventually everyone called it a night. The next morning I was surprised to be the first one up at a little before 8. I am not a big fan of sleeping in on trips – I can always sleep in at home, but alas not every day for me involves so much outside play time. Everyone else was soon roused and we got the morning rituals started. After breakfast we headed off down the trail, though this time we had enough places for all the kids as the person sent back to town with to obtain the missing chariot parts had arrived with the missing parts. Nancy headed off with the twins, with the goal of reaching the big hill climbing up out of the valley, sometimes referred to as the “Wickersham Wall”, before nap time and having the little people walk up it.

Molly had a melt down when told that she would have to ride in the Chariot, claiming that she wanted to walk the entire way out. This provided some of the adults great amusement – a kid actually angry that she was not going to get to walk the whole 11 miles out under her own power, rather than complaining endlessly about having to walk at all.. Anyway, they zoomed down the hill while I hung out at the cabin a bit longer, cleaning up and lazying about. After giving the kids and Nancy a 20 minute or so head start, I set off, and caught up with everyone just before the big climb. The rest of the trip out was fairly uneventful. On the way in we were past by a party of snowmachine supported bikers, and on the way out we were past by the same bikers shuttling out via snowmachine.. apparently the trail was too soft for snow biking, which does not bode well for the upcoming Whites 100 race.

A big thanks to the Rozells for inviting us out and providing the inspiration- it was a very fun trip

Bike 0, Ski 1

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Having received my long awaited Fatback, I was very, very antsy to get it out on the trails and give it a spin. I had taken it out on the local trails for several hours of riding and since it was working well decided to take it along on a trip out to Wolf Run cabin in the Whites. The trail conditions report did not bode well, but I assumed (wrongly it turned out ) that with the new snow and the nice weather folks would be out on snow machines enjoying themselves. On the off chance things didn’t pan out I waxed up my skis and tossed a backpack in the back of the truck. This turned out to be a good call. Heike, Christie, Tom, and I headed out of town and off to the trailhead fairly early Saturday morning after a quick stop for coffee at Alaska Coffee Roasters. The roads are much improved now, but still a bit slick so the driving was slow at times but we arrived intact – hurray! The trail leaving the trailhead looked great, so I packed up the bike while the two skiers (Heike and Christie) got ready to go, and Tom the runner took off down the trail. Eventually I got my bike packed and headed out. The first 5 miles or so of the trail were fantastic – hard and fast with a slight dusting of snow. I took it pretty easy getting used to the bike’s handing while fully loaded. Alas, at mile five things got a bit slower – there is a side trail here that heads out towards the Tolovana River, and all the traffic appeared to be taking the side track, with a single snow machine track heading down the trail. The trail was still rideable, but marginally so. Alas, after several hundred feet the snowmachine turned around and that was the end of the packed trail. The rest of the trail had about 5″ of snow on top of a breakable crust on top of a bit more snow, then a packed trail – good for a bike stand but not riding.

The options were to push the bike another 18 miles or head back to the truck and get skis. I was not thinking the 18 mile push-fest in followed by another 18 mile push out the next day was a good first over-nighter on the bike, so I returned for the skis. Tom joined me and we headed back to the truck while the skiers continued down the trail and off to the cabin.

45 minutes or so later I left the trail head again, this time on skis. 4 hours later we caught up with Heike and Christie who had the good sense to bail on the original plan and had stopped at Colorado Creek cabin. The trail between Colorado Creek cabin and Wolf Run cabin appeared to be completely unbroken – it would have been a long hard slog with a couple of tricky route finding sections, so bailing was a good call – we also knew the cabin was unreserved mid week and were fairly sure we would not be putting anyone out. Regardless it was very nice to step inside out of the wind into a warm, bright cabin. We had a relaxing evening goofing off and talking, and after a night’s sleep and a slow morning, headed back out on the trail.

The ski out was much faster as our tracks were mostly still intact and we were back at the trail head surprisingly quickly. Near the end of the day things cleared up a bit and we got some wonderful views of the surrounding hills and the mid afternoon sun.

A big thanks to Christie and Heike for breaking trail and doing all the cabin chores – it was very nice to ski in with all the work done!

Snow!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Ms Marsh, Tom, and I spent the day enjoying a mellow ski out in the White Mountains NRA. The greater Fairbanks area received a lot of snow in the last couple of days, and in the Whites that resulted in about two feet of snow on the ground. Thats about as much snow as we had at the end of the year – Wow!

The skiing was fast and fun. With the warm mid 20’s weather it was strange to see only five snow machines and three parties of skiers, but it was nice to see people out enjoying the snow.

Ski Season Is here…

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Snow has arrived in the Greater Fairbanks area and while its a little too grassy to ski on the trails around our house, I had high hopes for the trails up in the White Mountains. Remus and I headed out to the Mile 28 trail head to check out the trails.

The trails out of Mile 28 are a bit rocky but quite ski-able and fun in a rock-ski only sort of way.. so long as you don’t crash, as the snow cover is a bit thin. I didn’t head down to the low lands, but stayed on Trail Creek Trail and the skiing was pretty good. The biking would have been even better great – but alas I left the bike at home as I have yet to swap out the warm weather only front shock..

I skied several miles past Lee’s Cabin then turned around and headed back .

Winter is a great time in Fairbanks – there are so many winter trails to explore!

One last ski trip

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Spring is pretty nice in Interior Alaska. The days are long, the weather is warm, and there is still enough snow around for good skiing. The family and I decided to take advantage of all the glories of spring and headed out to Eleazar’s cabin in the White Mountains. Eleazar’s is about 12 miles from the nearest trail head, and a fairly mellow ski, in normal conditions. Hauling two three and three quarter year olds makes it a bit less mellow, but still doable. I had scouted out the trail two days before the trip was planned to make sure the trail was still ski-able, and while the first quarter mile or so was pretty bare, the rest was in great shape. We left town mid morning, and after a hour drive or so, we reached the parking lot and began the unloading processes. Traveling with kids complicates things a bit, so the unloading processes was pretty extended – the twins hot water bottles to prepare (traveling in luxury!), the chariot to assemble, snacks to ready, etc.

Eventually we were off and heading down the trail. The first bit was pretty muddy and low on snow.

The twins walked the first mile and a half – which was good as there was not enough snow for them to ride in the chariot.

It also got them nice and tired so by the time we had enough snow to load up into the chariot they were tired enough for nap time.

The bushes on the side of the trail were starting to melt out, revealing last years blueberries..

and cranberries.

Eventually nap time arrived and the twins were bundled up into the chariot and Nancy and I put on skis. The skiing was fast and fun – the trail was hard and a bit icy, but with some softer wax it was still quite good skiing.

Going down the steeper hills with the twins in the chariot was a bit tricky and I ended up walking down the really steep one. The chariot has quite a bit of mass and tends to give the puller the occasional hard push when going over moguls. On the steepest sections of trail I had to be careful as I was almost knocked over several times while walking. Fortunately we arrived at the bottom intact and after short time nap time was over and the twins were awakened and treated to snacks and entertainment while we skied along.

After a few more miles we reached the final hill to the cabin. The twins then were extracted from their comfortable quarters and they walked up the final hill to the cabin. The trail up was in great shape, but the last 100 feet or so was completely snow free.

Shorty after I reached the cabin the folks who were joining us on the adventure arrived – Trustin and Robin. They traveled by snow machine and had a good but interesting ride in. The snow free sections were apparently a bit challenging – the snowmachine did fine but the sled had a bit too much drag.

Eleazar’s is a wonderful cabin – its perched on top of a bluff that overlooks the Wickersham creek valley and has a great view. The twins had a great time exploring the cabin and the surrounding area. The cabin had a couple of interesting board games that the twins got quite a bit of mileage out of, as well as a loft. The loft was a great hit.

Eventually it was dinner time..

and then everyone turned in for the night. It was so warm the stove did not require stoking (or over-stoking as often is the case) which was quite refreshing – no trips from my warm sleeping bag to load wood into the stove were required. In the morning everyone enjoyed a nice breakfast of pancakes and bacon – except of course Nancy who made herself a bowl of cereal. My first attempts at pancakes were a bit of a failure – after the first bacon dripping assisted pancake I learned the “non-stick” pan I brought was more of a “stick” pan. I could not find my normal pan and had used one of Nancy’s pre Jay pans that I had never used before. Fortunately Trustin had brought butter and liberal use of it prevented any additional pancake disasters.

After lots of pancakes and bacon, we enjoyed a lazy morning of laying around goofing off, but alas eventually we actually had to pack up and get moving. The twins started off walking and got a good mile and half in before nap time arrived.

The ski out was uneventful but quite pleasant. On the last couple of miles we evicted the twins and they walked the last bit with lots of renditions of one of their favorate books, “We are going on a bear hunt”.

Togiak, our older dog, decided we were going too slow, and started taking naps on the side of the trail, curing up under spruce trees while we slowly dawdled the last mile or so.

Eventually we reached the parking lot and everyone loaded up. The dogs were quite happy to dive into the straw in the back of the truck and go to sleep.

The trip was super fun and a great way to end the ski season. The twins had a good time and I got quite a work out hauling them around. I brought violet Toko spray klister and used it on the way out. That stuff is quite amazing – it works quite well and less of a pain than standard klister with no more sticky tubes of doom.
Alas, the snow is almost gone now – I expect its now time to put the skis away. With some luck I will get in one bike ride on the trails before the snow softens up too much, and then I think the snow season will be done. Soon backpacking, pack rafting, and bike touring season will arrive – hurrah!