Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Alaska Cross 2017..

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Thump, thump, thump.
I turned around to see Nick and Stefan running up the road behind me, zooming along at a pretty good clip.

“Where is the rest of your group?” Nick or Stefan asked.
“They are ahead – go catch them!”
And they zoomed off even faster.

Alaska Cross is a semi organized unofficial race that was originally from Chena hot springs to Circle Hot Springs in Central. The last few years the course has bounced around a bit, trying routes in the Alaska range in a few different locations, but now it was back to the original form, and I really wanted to do it. Tom and I made plans to do it, and eventually joined up with Drew, and finally Seth at the very last minute. Before the race there was a bit of discussion of routes, all with tradeoffs of one sort or another.

The race start was a pretty low key affair – there were only nine people there, and after a short talk by the (un) organizer Mark Ross, everyone was off. The two runners, Stefan and Nick, zoomed off, while the rest of us plodded along on foot.

We took the “default” route, taking the quest route over to Birch Creek, then floating Birch Creek down to a bit before Harrison Creek and hiking the ridge over to the mining road, and walking the road out to Circle Hot Springs.

Alaska cross, chena to central

I haven’t been on this section of the Yukon Quest trail before, and I was super excited to see a section of new trail.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Rosebud summit was neat to see, and it was great to think of all the epic adventures mushers have had going up and over it from the comfort of a nice warm summer day.

Alaska cross, chena to central

It was pretty scenic and very fast walking, at least until the last few miles which were a bit tussocky. At this point in the race it was pretty clear that Tom and Drew were in much better shape than I was. They were much faster going up hill, and Tom in particular was powering through the tussocks at a pretty amazing pace.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Alaska cross, chena to central

We arrived at Birch Creek around 5pm. The creek was, alas, a bit on the low side, but that was expected. We had talked about shortening the float by taking a longer route to the river – trading 10 miles of hiking to cut off approximately 25 miles of floating, but tales of how bad those 10 miles would be made me a bit concerned.

I unpacked, inflated, and messed around a bit trying to put together a makeshift replacement for the spray skirt poles I had left behind accidently cobbled something together from willow branches (which worked ok – hurrah!). Skirt semi-assembled, I looked over and saw that Drew was totally packed and ready to go, and Tom was almost ready – doh, I was holding folks up! I got moving and was soon ready to go, but alas Seth still had a considerable yard sale spread all around him.

This was the story of the trip – Drew packs up almost instantly, and is ready to go fast, Tom is nearly as fast, leaving me in a panic that I am holding everyone up. And of course, I was!

Just as I was starting my full on panic packing, Jenna, the only solo entry popped out of the woods. She seemed to be in great spirits and it was looking like she was going to be ready to go before I was, causing my packing to get even more frenzied!

The wait on Seth’s yard sale continued until Tom and Drew’s egg timers went off, and they headed out. I took off with them, figuring that Seth would get going and catch up on the river.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Alaska cross, chena to central

The float was pretty uneventful. Paddle. Paddle. More Paddling. I think we found we could make around four miles per hour if we paddled continuously which we did except for 3 breaks to stretch our legs and warm up. Fortunately it was windy on the river, which kept the temperatures warm. Which was awesome, as the first year I did this route I had ice on my deck in the middle of the night – it was a bit cold!

We saw Jenna and Seth periodically, but they seemed to yo-yo around us, getting ahead then falling back.

In the early hours of the morning we bumped into Nick and Stefan as they were preparing to cross the creek.

Alaska cross, chena to central

They looked to be in pretty good spirits, but I was pretty happy we didn’t take the route with more walking as they had light packs and still were not very far ahead of us.

Alaska cross, chena to central

We ran both rapids on the creek after boat scouting them – they were pretty tame at this low water level.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Alaska cross, chena to central

Just as the sun hit the river it was time to take out, and Seth joined us just as we pulled up on a rocky beach to take out. Everyone was a bit discombobulated, but we got packed up climbed a hill over to the mining road we would take to walk out to the hot springs.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Alaska cross, chena to central

The climb took me from cold as I left the river to really hot as I sweated away climbing up hill. Drew and Tom zoomed up the hill like it was nothing as I slogged along in their wake.

Zoom the climb was over, and it was down, down, down to the mining road, where I took advantage of an outhouse nicely situated near on top of a little mound near the road to answer the call of nature. Just about finished with the deed I discovered the outhouse was very unstable and there was a bit of a panic as I tried to get out without having it fall over and slide off the hill..

Then it was back to the road, walking, walking, walking.. until Mark Ross showed up.

Alaska cross, chena to central

This is the first year he hadn’t done the race, and I think he was not sure what to do with all his nervous energy.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Eventually Mark drove off, leaving us to enjoy the dry, hot walk by ourselves. Tom, Drew, and then Seth all tired of my slow pace and disappeared off in the distance.

Alaska cross, chena to central

Tired and with sore feet I pulled in 20 minutes or so after Tom and Drew, and a few minutes after Seth. Nick and Stefan finished 20 minutes or so before Tom and Drew, and giving them the win. Jenna pulled about an hour after me, looking happy and chipper.

The total mileage was 72 miles, 45 of which was floating. Our average pace including stops while walking was 2.5 mph, 3.5mph floating.

I brought just enough food – I was down to three gels (GUs), two snickers, and a little bit of frito powder when I finished.

Thanks for the company Drew, Seth, and Tom! And a huge thank you for picking us up at Circle Hot springs Trusten – that pizza you brought to the finish really made my day!

A few notes:

  • Like I mentioned, I should have brought more food in case it took me longer.
  • I really felt like I was holding folks up this year, I definitely need to get into better shape.
  • I took my new HMG pack (all the cool folks are using them, got to join in! ūüôā ) on this trip, and it was the first time I have used it in any real sense. I liked it, it seemed to work very well, carries fine. One gripe – it is hard to water bottles in and out of the pockets on the side without taking the pack off, which is a bit of a downer.

P.S. After I got home I fell asleep on the couch, and was apparently out enough Molly (one of my daughters) could “paint” my toenails blue with a magic marker. Sigh.. ūüôā

Map:

ITI 2017 Gearlist

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

This post is strangely popular ¬†– not sure why that is, but folks should take this list with a good deal of caution, and figure out what works for them – just because I take it doesn’t mean you will need it, and just because I didn’t take it doesn’t mean you will not need it!

 

I am planning on doing a full writeup on my ride to Nome in the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI), but meanwhile, someone asked what I took with me. This is an experiment – I don’t normally make lists like this, hopefully others will find it useful.

Here is my packing list and a few other details. I think it is complete, but I might have missed some odds and ends.

This perhaps obvious – but the Iditarod Trail Invitational has two forms – the “short” race to McGrath, and the race to Nome. Riding to Nome is more of an adventure rather than a race, riding to McGrath is more of a race and less of an adventure, so folks going to McGrath need much less stuff.


Please keep in mind this list works for me, but might not work for you. Also, I am very much not an expert, so take everything I say with a grain (or large helping) of salt. Just because I am doing it doesn’t make it a good idea! I should also point out I am not “a fast” rider – the fast guys pack differently.

Bike Stuff

  • the bike – 2016 vintage Fatback Corvus – I love this bike!
    • 100mm Nextie rims with Hadley hubs
    • “alt” style handlebar with ergon grips with extra padding
    • Bud tires, front and back
    • Old Man Mountain rear rack
    • Becker Gear frame bag, mini panniers, and top tube bag
    • Revelate harness
    • standard SRAM 1×11 setup, with xt 11-46 cassette
    • big vault flat pedals
    • Dogwood Designs plus pogies
  • bike tools etc
    • multi tool
    • leatherman wave knife / pliers
    • patch kit
    • two tubes *
    • chain tool
    • patch kit *
    • derailleur hanger *
    • a small segment of chain, and several quick links
    • baling wire, extra bolts, duct tape, and a few other extra “fix it” parts
    • separate long hex wrench for pedals *

Drop bags bike selfie

Clothing

  • On Me
    • Marmot soft shell pants Note: Fully windproof!
    • Keen boots, two sizes too big
    • ¬†bike shorts
    • short sleeve top
    • Mammut softshell, ultimate hoody, with ruff Note: Fully windproof
    • neoprene socks, as vapor barrier.
    • thick wool socks
    • full finger bike gloves
    • watch with vibration alarm
  • On bike
    • North Face thermoball hooded jacket
    • Marmot baffled down jacket *
    • ¬†Patagonia hooded R 1/2 top
    • ¬†long sleeve top, thin
    • ¬†Patagonia medium weight long underwear bottoms *
    • ¬†Patagonia light weight long underwear bottoms
    • homemade fleece overshorts (awesome – thanks Nancy!)
    • Marmot Driclime full zip pants *
    • ¬†two pairs extra socks, one thin, one thick
    • light shirt for schools etc
    • light shorts for schools etc
    • “no fog” face mask *
    • ¬†goggles *
    • nose hat
    • extra hat + thin balaclava
    • homemade fleece mittens (thanks Nancy!)
    • Hestra Primaloft Extreme Mitt Liner Warm, light, and fairly cheap!
    • sunglasses
    • Wiggy’s waders
    • oven bags as extra vapor barriers and an emergency option to keep my socks dry in case my boots get wet
    • gaitors

Selfie

Human Maintenance Stuff

  • big med kit
    • ¬†aleve & other meds
    • foot care stuff, tape, mole skin etc
    • bandages, antibiotic ointment etc
    • ¬†duct tape
    • ¬†tape adherent
    • ¬†oral antibiotics
    • butt care stuff – diaper cream, etc
  • ¬†foot lube (need a replacement for hydropell, I am almost out!)
  • chammois cream
  • ¬†sunscreen
  • lip balm
  • ¬†salt pills

Food

  • Cooking Stuff
    • XGK stove + extra pump
    • 2 quart pot (which I dropping in the South fork of the Kuskokwim, because I was being dumb – don’t do that!)
      • replaced with a 1 quart pot I borrowed from Tom Moran and a small ti pot from Dan L.
    • two fuel bottles (5-ish days of fuel, not always full)
    • ti spork
  • ¬†Food
    • 3+ days of food on me at all times, a combination of freeze dried food and snacks
      • Note: Jeff Oatley told me I should have three days of food on me at all times before I went to Nome in 2016, and I think that was a great recommendation.
    • ¬†coffee and/or chia mixes for the thermos, when not used for hot water
  • 40oz thermos
    • Note: I got this at the “AC” store in McGrath – it was a great purchase. It kept water really hot for at least 12 hours, so I could boil water mid day, have a freeze dried meal before bed, then have freeze dried when I got up. It is the Thermos brand, which seems to work (a lot!) better than the upscale brands. One downside was it kept coffee too hot to drink if the water was boiling when filled. YMMV
  • Sleep Stuff
    • Marmot -40f bag
    • ridge rest, full length pad
    • ultra lightweight bivy *

Electronics

  • phone with GCI sim for villages, loaded with topo software as a gps backup
  • Garmin etrex 30, with topo
  • ¬†Sony NEX 6
  • three batteries for camera
  • ¬†2 small usb charger + cables
  • ¬†aaa powered mp3 music player
  • audio book player

Random Other Stuff

  • Hydration
    • Mountain Hardwear Fluid 6 backpack
    • ¬†mylar bubble wrap insulation inside it, on the outside side
    • red MSR water bladder + hose, without a bite value
      • Note: Bite valves seem to be a source of a lot of leaks – I just have a on/off valve, and turn it on to use it, then off when I am done. Works fine for me. This system worked fine at the mid -30f weather I had on the way to Nome, and I have used it for training rides in colder weather. The bladder is right up against my back, and under all but my tee shirt. Even at really cold temps the water eventually becomes more or less body temperature.
  • ¬†TP & hand sanitizer
  • Dogwood Designs overboots
    • ¬†Note: These things are magic and very warm!
  • ¬†printed FAA charts for the route
  • ¬†printed maps for a few problem areas
  • printed contact list for route after McGrath
  • ¬†mileage sheet
  • windproof matches, lighter, and fire starter (esbit tablets)
  • ¬†sewing stuff, tyvek tape

That is a lot of stuff!
And no, I did not weigh my bike when it was loaded up – really, you either need something or you don’t. If you don’t need it, don’t take it, if you need it, who cares how much it weighs, you need it, take it.

For logistics, I mailed boxes (the USPS regional rate size B box is $7 for 0.4 cubic ft / 20lbs for Fairbanks or Anchorage to the villages along the route, which is a bargain) to schools along the route, after emailing the principals to make sure it was ok. Every box I actually tried to get was there, though YMMV. I tried to ship enough stuff that even if I missed half the boxes I still wouldn’t starve.

The fleece over shorts were awesome – they are stretchy enough to go over my boots, so I would just pull them over my pants, and I would instantly be a lot warmer. I was fine with thin long underwear, pants, and the fleece shorts over the top at the mid -30F, which was great. I got the idea from Kyle who I rode with last year, who had a set of “puffy shorts”, Dynafit branded over shorts. The basic idea is highly recommended!

I used a Nosehat and a ruff, and that is an awesome combination. I didn’t need any additional face covering. The nosehat dries off really fast (like in my pocket) – highly recommended.

In regards the the big puffy jacket – I brought a big baffled puffy jacket that I didn’t end up using until a got to Nome. In general, if I am not moving, I am getting ready to sleep or sleeping, so as soon as I stop for the night, I stomp a bivy spot, unpack my sleeping bag, and climb in, then from the bag do any extra chores I need to do (cook dinner, etc). Going this route, I was able to get by without breaking out the big jacket, even in the sub -30f weather. YMMV of course. I would still have the big jacket, just in case it got really cold, or if something went wrong, like I had to do extensive bike maintenance or got sick.

I slept with all my clothing on, besides my vapor barrier socks. My boots sayed out of the bag, as they were always dry (the vb socks keep them that way).

I had issues with my bag getting a lot of moisture in it – after three days it had a lot of moisture in it, and required drying out in a warm, dry place. I think if I was to do this race again, I would try a vapor barrier liner or jacket in an attempt to minimise this.

With regard to bike maintenance, I had three bike issues. I broke a plate in the chain, which I fixed by taking two links out, and patching it together with a quick link. I had a rack bolt break at sub -30F, for which I rigged a temporary fix with bailing wire, then a real fix later in the heat of the day using the Leatherman to remove the bolt remains, and rebolting with bolt from my spares kit. I had a periodic issue with my freehub making funny noises, but that didn’t seem to cause any engagement issues, so I ignored it, and it worked out.

Questions? Leave a comment.

Things on the list marked with an asterisks (*) I didn’t end up using. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t bring them – I didn’t have flats for example, so didn’t need the tubes.

If I was to start cutting gear, I think I would drop the Marmot Driclime over-pants, and go with a less warm sleeping bag, but that of course involves trade offs – on the last night before Ruby, I was cold in the middle of the night and had to put on more layers so I could sleep. Perhaps I should sleep less though ūüôā

I am not an expert by any means, so take all my suggestions with a large helping of salt. This list (sort of ūüôā ) works for me, it might not work for you. Everyone has to figure this out for themselves, at least to some extent.

Tolovana Post Thanksgiving!

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Winter this year has been treating us well in Interior Alaska well, warm and fairly mild though we have been a bit short on snow. After a good thanksgiving with the family, I headed off to go spend Sunday and Monday night at Tolovana Hot Springs with Tom and Ms Marsh. I feel a bit bad these days cutting out on the family, but since the twins were going to be at school Monday and Tuesday, I was only missing two evenings of family time. The weather forecast called for a small amount of snow, so Tom and I decided to bike, and Ms Marsh walked pulling a sled. The trail was in good shape, though there was not enough snow to cover the ruts.

IMG_7431

PB300530

PB300555

IMG_7441

The ride in was fast and fun, and before we knew it we were at the hotsprings, warming up our cabin and enjoying the hot water. It was Tom’s first overnighter on a snowbike, and he seemed to be enjoying himself.

The dogs had a great time..

IMG_7543

The next morning arrived calm and clear, and I got to watch the sun rise from one of the hot tubs. Not a huge accomplishment, as the sun is officially rising at 10:30AM..

PC010572

Then it was back to eating..

IMG_7724

Eventually Tom and I left Ms Marsh to enjoy the quiet by herself, and we headed out to explore. The trails down from the hotsprings didn’t appear to be broken out, as there was only a few inches of snow, so we biked for a bit, then went for a walk down to the flats.

PC010593

IMG_7606

PC010580

PC010583

Eventually we made our way back and returned to eating and enjoying the waters. That evening on a impulse I checked NOAA weather radio, and was surprised to hear we had a winter storm warning, for up to a foot of snow! Plans were made to check on things early in the morning as the evening’s clear skies didn’t look very threatening, and everyone hit the sack, after a few more trips to enjoy the hot waters. In the morning we were happy to see only a inch or two of snow greeting us, but it was lightly snowing. Ms Marsh started her walk out a hour or so earlier than Tom and I, as we were optimistic that the biking would be fast (ish).

IMG_7735

After one last soak we headed out, and while the biking wasn’t bad, it was going to be a lot slower on the way out.

PC020602

IMG_7750

PC020608

IMG_7756

By the time we made the parking lot, there was 3″ to 4″ of new snow. Not a huge deal, but definitely things were a bit slower. It took us a little over 4 hours to get out, and we enjoyed a fair bit of pushing, which wasn’t the end of the world, as I had managed to ride everything on the way in. The new snow made hauling a sled a lot more work, and Ms Marsh looked happy to be done when she arrived at the truck. The drive back to town almost took longer than the getting out from the hotsprings, as all the new snow made the roads a bit of a mess.

I hope everyone is enjoying fall (or early winter, as some would have it)!

PS: About half the photos are compliments of Tom, who brought his mega camera on the trip. I feel a bit odd to have so many photos of me in a post!

First ride of the season in the Whites..

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Winter has (sort of) arrived here in Interior Alaska. Alas, we are a little short on snow, so all my exploring has just been out of my house, and my go too loop is getting a bit boring, as I have been hitting it about twice a week. After hearing that the trails in the White Mountains NRA might be in good shape, I decided to go check things out.  The plan was bike out as far as I could towards Borealis Cabin, then head back.

The trails started off good..
PB170340

 

Got better..

PB170350

 

Then started getting a bit bumpy as I reached the valley and started towards Borealis Cabin.

PB170371

 

There wasn’t quite enough snow to fill in the holes between tussocks, but it was ok biking, though a bit rough. ¬† Shiloh, a new (ish – we have had him since mid March) member of the family seemed to enjoy his first long bike ride. ¬†I have done day trips with him on skis in the 40 mile range, but those are slower than biking. ¬†He did well, and seemed to be picking up the flow. ¬†I am looking forward to many more adventures with him! ¬†We got him from the pound, who picked him up as a stray, so we don’t know much about his life before us. ¬†He has definitely had some time in harness, and he had his dew claws removed, so there was some mushing in his past, but the rest is a mystery.

PB170396

 

Remus is a old hand at this, and had a blast.   Not bad for a 12 year old dog!

PB170406

A bit past the turn of for Eleazar’s Cabin the snow thinned out a bit more, bring on more bumps..

PB170407

PB170450

 

Just past Borealis the traffic dropped off on the trail a lot, and the main trail less than a quarter mile later.   There was some traffic on a slough, so I explored that for a bit, though eventually the snowmachine tracks turned around, and I headed back.   The ice on Beaver Creek was thin but passable.

PB170476

 

The ride back to the truck was uneventful.  The off-ice is growing fast, but was all fairly bikeable.

PB170509

PB170525

As a side note, BLM put up a new sign at Borealis, and I was amused that the mileages are off by more than a normal amount.
PB170478

Lee’s Cabin is roughly 14 miles from Borealis, so the sign is about 5 miles off. Most of the signs in the whites are off by a bit, but this is more than the normal amount. I forgot to check, but sign this one replaced had the distance to the next cabin down the trail, Caribou Bluff wrong – folks traveling east would see a sign saying 10 miles before crossing Beaver Creek, then in a mile or so, see this signs predecessor saying it was 11 miles away, even though it is a mile closer to the cabin. ¬†For tired travelers this was a bit demoralizing – going from only 10 miles to go, to finding out a mile later you still had 11 miles left!

It is pretty funny they would go to the trouble of making the sign, but not checking the distances against their own publications:
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 11.36.20 AM

 

I hope everyone is enjoying winter!

Savage-Sanctuary..

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Last year Tom, Joel, and I floated the classic Savage-Sanctuary loop in Denali NP, and had a great time, though it was super wet. I had been hoping to do that loop again, and finding myself with a Sunday free of commitments, headed to Denali to do it again, with Erica, Heike, Joel, and Tom. In a nutshell, the plan was to do the loop as a ~12 hour day trip, camping at the Denali NP entrance so we could get an early start, driving in to mile 10 or so and parking at the Mountain View trailhead, hiking up Savage River, crossing over to the Sanctuary River, floating to the park road, and hopefully hit the 7pm bus back. The day started out looking a bit wet, but as we drove down the park road to start our trip the rain held off, and we managed to avoid the rain. The hike up Savage River and over to Sanctuary was fantastic – great walking..

P7130889

P7130882

P7130957

P7131012

P7131007

P7130985

.. Lots of flowers…

P7130974

P7130963

P7130961

P7130958

We didn’t see much wildlife, just some birds, including an very irritated raptor/hawk, a few ground squirrels, and a couple of moose seen from the bus and the road. I caught a brief glimps of a caribou as it crossed the stream behind us, but everyone else was a bit too slow to turn around and missed it – and thus was accused of imagining it. We did see lots of remains, though, and the first sheep horn set I have seen in the wild.

P7130991

Eventually we reached the Sanctuary River, inflated, and headed back to the park road. The water was fairly high, and we had a huge tail wind blowing us downriver. This section of the Sanctuary River is pretty mellow, with a few rocks, and as we got closer to the road, a tiny bit of wood – pretty mellow for the most part, but nice and scenic.

P7130198

P7130231

P7130223

P7130213

I think the total distance was 16 miles of hiking, and 14 miles of floating. We made it out for the 6:30 bus back to the Mountain View trailhead, with ample time to enjoy burgers at the 49th state brewery.

The is a fantastic trip, and highly recommended. We did it as a ~11hour day trip, with a fairly mellow hiking pace, and high and fast water on Sanctuary River. It could take more or less time, depending on water conditions and how fast one walks. It is also possible to do it as an overnight, but it requires a backcountry permit, which is hit and miss. That would be a great option if you don’t mind all the extra work overnighting in Denali entails, and don’t mind doing something else if the units are full up.

A huge thanks to Heike, Tom, Joel, and Erica for making this trip happen, it was fantastic fun!

On a gear note, I snagged a slightly beat up Olympus XZ-1 off ebay, and have been really happy with the images coming off it. It takes the same batteries as my waterproof Olympus point and shoot, is small, lightweight, has a relatively fast lens, and it takes wonderful pictures – yay!

I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer!

Here is map from when I did it in 2013. The hiking is better going up Sanctuary on the west side of the river (river left) – cross over if you can just as you enter the valley, there are great game trails on the west side.

A few more photos can be found

The whites in reverse..

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

It took a week or so after I was done with the ITI, I was starting to get ancy to get back on the bike. Tom M. suggested that we get do a trip in the whites, and after booking Cache Mountain cabin plans were made for an overnight cabin hopping trip. We ended up being joined by Josh S and Laura G, and of course Remus the Wonder dog. We left town early, and were on the trail in time to appreciate the wonderful early morning sunshine. Josh and I zoomed off, leaving the skiers to enjoy their trip in, and after checking the trail at the junction with the trail creek trail, decided to head in the “long way”, over Cache Mt divide, in the opposite direction from how the Whites 100 race course is run.

ZZZZ0513

The weather was fantastic – warm and nearly calm. The trail was in great shape, and the riding was fast.

ZZZZ0518

ZZZZ0521

ZZZZ0525

It was great to see the trail in a direction I don’t normally travel it. It was nice to be on the bike, though parts of my body (mainly my butt) hadn’t really recovered from the ITI, and were not happy to be going for a long ride. Fortunately we were not riding fast because as Remus’s speed was limited by the warmer weather, so I got lots of photo breaks.

ZZZZ0536

Once we got past Windy Gap cabin there was 20 miles of trail I had never been on heading this direction, and it was fantastic to see the trail from a different perspective.

ZZZZ0558

The weather was pretty hot, and Remus was overheating, so we biked at a very mellow pace. I felt a bit guilty slowing Josh down, but he seemed to be enjoying all the extra time to snap photos. The ice on the river near Windy Gap cabin a bit gnarly, but there was a nice (but soft) trail around it. The icelakes were wet and in a couple of sections very smooth and slippery. The ice had some fantastic colors, and in one place there were some little icebergs, something I had never seen before.

ZZZZ0564

ZZZZ0578

ZZZZ0581

A short (and bad) video clip from the icelakes from JayC on Vimeo.

Remus enjoyed the nice long ride up the divide, and got his bounce back for the 10 mile descent to Cache Mt cabin.

ZZZZ0593

Josh and I arrived at the cabin hours after Laura and Tom, and Tom was super excited, as I had half of his dinner. After a couple of hours of socializing, we hit the sack. In the morning, Laura and Tom headed out a bit before us, while we mellowed out for a bit, then headed out. Overnight it snowed a bit, and the trails had a light dusting of snow for the first 20 miles, but it was still quite fast.

ZZZZ0608

ZZZZ0603

By the time I reached the parking lot the skies had cleared up, and I was enjoying the sun again.

Thanks to everyone for making the trip happen, it is always fun to escape to the Whites!

PS: Alas, Google seems to be slowly killing off Picasa, and I have now switched to Flickr to host my photos. Hopefully that works out – I would love to hear suggestions as to good replacements for Picasa Web Albums.

PSS: I now have ~200 miles on a 1×10 setup with a Wolf Tooth components 42t cog. I am really loving it so far – if it continues to work as well as it does now this is a great setup for snowbiking.
ZZZZ0598

Chena Dome..

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Remus and I spent a wonderful day hiking the Chena Dome trail. This is a classic hike I do every year, and it just seems to get better each time I hike it.


It has been a wet spring, bringing on the green in all its glory.


Someone has lost his tail..

This hike has lots and lots of climbing and decending. For some of the descents you can see the next climb which heads right back up to the same level you are just leaving. Up, down. Up down. Repeat. The rewards are wonderful ridge hiking and amazing views.

As usual I didn’t see any other humans, but I did see several other mammals.

Momma bear and her offspring had me a bit nervous, as they were heading my way. I stopped at the trail shelter briefly, and by the time I was on the next hill a quarter of a mile away I could see them sitting on its porch. I was a bit worried they were going to start following me, but they continued to along their way, which fortunately diverged from mine.

After the bears a small thunderstorm moved though, dropping the temperatures and making Remus happy.

Not a lot of words, but it was a wonderful day. A little under 11 hours and 30 miles I ended it sore and happy.

Wandering in the Whites..

Monday, March 19th, 2012

With the Whites 100 only a week away, Tom, Remus, and I decided to do a last minute overnight trip to Caribou Bluff cabin to check out the race course. I was on the snow bike, and Tom was on skis. It was a wonderful trip, with nice weather and fantastic biking. The trails were in great shape..

There was minimal traffic on the trails and I only saw two parties of snow machiners, otherwise I had the whole place to myself. There were occasional signs of other users though..

The ride in was fast and I decided to go a bit further and check out the trail heading out of Wind Gap. This was the first time I traveled this trail in this direction, and the views were pretty spectacular.

I turned around near Windy Gap Cabin and headed back to Caribou Bluff where I caught up with Tom and mellowed out. We had a nice evening of goofing off and lounging, and eventually hit the sack. I woke up around 2am to a wonderful display of the aurora, though I was not motivated enough to get up and grab the camera. In the morning we headed out. It was a slow ride for me on the way out, as the 50 mile ride the day before apparently was a bit too much for Remus the dog and he was quite sore.

So we took our time on the way out, taking photos and enjoying the nice weather.

The ride out was uneventful, though I did pass some folks from BLM picking up stuff off the side of the trail. Apparently a guided mushing group ran into some sort of trouble and had to be medivac-ed out by the Alaska State Troopers. The more details can be found here: . Fortunately no one seems to have been hurt.

The overflow this year appears to be fairly manageable, though there was one section of wet overflow that was maybe two inches deep. It was all easily ridden on the snow bike though, so long as I kept the speeds down and was careful.

If the trails are like this for the race we should see record times for the folks on bikes and on foot, and possibly the skiers too, though the snow was fairly cold and slow. Good luck to the racers this weekend!

A trip to Richards

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The trails were rumored to be setting up well in the Whites, so early-ish on a Sunday morning Ms Marsh, Tom, and I headed out on a overnighter to Richards Cabin in the White Mountains NRA. The weather had been pretty nice the last couple of days, though perhaps a bit too warm for the trails to set up for good biking.

We arrived at the trail head and started down the trail, enjoying the warm weather. I was planning on biking, and Tom and Ms Marsh were going to ski. Richards cabin is about 20 miles in on a well used trail. The trail starts off with a climb up over a small ridge, then decends for 8 miles or so to cross Nome Creek, then winds though spruce forrest and a old burn before arriving at Richards. The trail was a bit too loose and steep for me to bike right out of the parking lot, so I started off pushing for the first mile or so. Tom and Ms Marsh carried their skis, so I traveled up the hill with them for a while, though once it became ridable I headed off. The day was bright and beautiful, and very warm.

Eventually the climbing stopped, and I was treated to nice downhill to Nome Creek.

It was in the upper twenties for most of the day, a bit too warm for pleasant snow biking. The trail was nicely packed and I made good time for the first half of the trip. Eventually I was passed by a large party of snow machines on their way out from Richards, and the riding slowed down a fair bit.

I found out later that these folks had just returned from Iraqi. It was a bit too warm for the trail to setup, so I spent the next 8 miles or so in a mix of low pressure riding and pushing. Good practice for what is in store for me in two weeks.

Not a big deal, as it was warm, and due to the low sun angle and a bank of high clouds, there was a all day sunrise (or sunset?).

The low angle sun illuminated the ridges along Cache Mountain beautifully.

Remus the dog is not too excited by snow biking. When pedaling I travel fast enough he has to trot to keep up, and can’t lolly gag. He gets to goof off while I am pushing though, and durring on of these non-pedaling sections a vole ran across the trail and ran into one of his legs. Remus was very surprised, and didn’t know what to do for a couple of moments. After following the vole around for half a minute he decided it was not edible or interesting and moved on. I followed the vole for a bit as it attempted to find it way back down to it’s tunnels under the snow.

After several minutes of running around on top of the snow the vole found tree well and returned to its life under the snow. Eventually the sun set, I turned on my lights, and eventually arrived at the cabin.

The cabin was still warm from the previous tenants so I hunted down some more wood and got busy melting snow. Once there was enough water I feed Remus, and soon after that Tom arrived, followed by Ms Marsh a while later. Richards Cabin is a large 20′ by 30′ log cabin with lots of room. We enjoyed a wonderful evening eating, talking, and goofing off. Tom was excited to find a copy of a UK publication call “Poultry Magazine”, which was complete with a section of reader submitted poems. He was riveted.

Richards sees a different style of visitor than most of the other cabins in the Whites. Besides several other UK farming publications, there was a number of issues of gun magazines and trading publications, and some motor sport publications. I think it might see a bit more of the hunting crowd, as it is possible to reach it in summer by ATV.

Eventually we hit the sac, and after a slow morning, set off to head back out to the parking lot. A about a half inch of snow fell overnight, and it was slightly colder, but the trail had setup firm and was now pretty rideable. The new snow and the low lying clouds made for a very white day.

The ride out was mostly uneventful, though scenic. I arrived at the truck an hour or so before the skiers, with enough time to feed Remus and myself, and get the bike unpacked and loaded up.

A very wonderful overnighter – thanks for putting together the trip Ms Marsh!

First Ski in the Whites

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I got out today and skied 20 or so miles in the Whites.. It was a beautiful day, and it was very nice to be getting some outside time. It was a fairly short ski, only out to the Wickersham Creek Trail shelter and back for a round trip of about 18 miles, but it was nice to on skis and enjoying the snow. Thanks for providing the motivation Tom!