Posts Tagged ‘chena_rec_area’

A Beautiful Day…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Remus and I escaped this afternoon to go hike Granite Tors..
It was a great after noon, hot and sunny – a fantastic day for a hike, and for reflecting on life the universe and everything. Time well spent.

We found berries..

And more berries..

And even more berries..

Blueberry season appears to be on us.. Get your picking in now before Remus and I eat them all!

Fun on the 4th – Hiking Chena Dome with the Family

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Chena Dome is one of the classic hikes of the interior. It is 30 miles long, with lots of ups and downs, but these are rewarded by great views and wonderful alpine hiking with very little brush or mud. Nancy and I decided this spring it would be a grand adventure to hike it with the Twins and see how well they handle it. As they are only four years old, they were not going to hike the whole thing and we expected to carry them at least two thirds of the time. The hike started off on a fine Saturday morning, though rain was in the forecast. As we started hiking up the trail, we were passed by someone hiking the other way. I talked to him a bit, and quickly learned that he had gone three miles and turned back because he “didn’t want to get wet” and turned back at the sight of black clouds moving in. This was somewhat ominous, but we pressed onwards. We were soon passed by two other parties, including a family with a six year old who was going to hike the whole trail without any help. This made quite an impression on our four year olds – hiking whole trail all by him self! The six year olds apparent lack of any whining made a more of an impression on Nancy and I – only six and already hard core! The twins walked the first three miles or so before being loaded up into the backpacks for nap time.


Alas, at about nap time the grade increased making for some fun uphills.

The first day of hiking was quite beautiful – while some very ominous black clouds blew though with a bit of thunder, the weather was quite nice.

After reaching mile seven or so the twins were pried out of their comfortable backpacks and started hiking again.

At a little after mile eight there is an airplane wreck, which provided a bit of excitement for the twins.

The airplane crash site is always a bit depressing, at least to me. Near the engine in the photo is the steering wheel – all smashed and bent.. it seems unlikely that anyone survived the crash. We camped in the next saddle.

Everyone enjoyed a fine dinner of rice, dried veggies, and cashew nuts. Yum, yum!

After dinner the twins and I wandered around, looking at the flowers…

And building some rock cairns.

During the cairn building processes Lizzy was very excited to find a rock shaped like the number one. The joys of being four..

The next morning things were a bit different – we awoke to a gentle rain on the tent.


When we finally made it outside, we found the ridge completely socked in, with about 100ft of visibility. The rest of the day the visibility ranged from 50ft to 1/4 mile until things cleared up in the evening. This made route finding a bit of a chore. In nice weather its it often feels like there are rock cairns every 10ft – in bad weather it feels like they are 10 miles apart. We never lost the trail, but it was quite hard to stay on the trail at several points.

The girls were quite the little troopers, and didn’t whine all that much, even though they spent most of the day wandering around in a white out in the rain.

They spent a bit more time in the backpack (must be nice to be able to retreat to the comfort of a rain proof covered self motorized transport that also provides food and drink on command) but otherwise seemed to enjoy themselves. Several times while Nancy and I were looking for the next cairn Lizzy would inject helpful advice like “You should look at the map” or “you didn’t loose the map did you”.
We also played the ever popular “Is that cairn taller than you?” game, in which the twins guessed if the next cairn would be shorter or taller then them. That game was a major hit.

Nancy also recited a version of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, the Hungry Caterpillar, and James and the Giant Peach from memory as hiking as rainy fog distractions.

Eventually we made it to the train shelter, were we made dinner and enjoyed some dryness.

The family with the six year old caught up with us at that point and we hung out for a while out of the rain. Eventually we took off and heading back out into the rain which was by this point slacking off and slowly turning into a partially cloudy evening.

The dogs enjoyed this section of the hike immensely – we were now out of the barren alpine rock fields and into mixed dwarf birch which they seem to enjoy a lot more. We took all three dogs, which included two 13 year olds and a 6 year old. The 13 year old dogs, Togiak and Polar, were quite the troopers, even though Togiak has a bit of arthritis.

By the end of the day the weather was quite nice, and the twins got some quality hiking time in.

We made camp just above a small saddle and eventually made it to bed when all the sugar the twins consumed wore off. The next morning arrived with a bit of rain but that quickly cleared off. Rain always sounds worse while in the tent.

Our final day turned out to be quite nice – the sun came out and it actually got reasonably hot and sunny.
The twins had a great time hiking in the fine weather.

With the nice weather, our little flying friends game out, alas.

Fortunately the hiking on the final day was a fairly fast 12 miles, and we made it out by 6, well in time to make it to Mia’s Cafe. The twins enjoyed vegetable yakisoba.


Mia’s food is always good. That little cafe is quite amazing – the burgers are great and at least the vegetable yakisoba is very good (better than any place in town actually). I am now hard pressed to decide weather to order a burger or noodles these days.. Life is hard!

Everyone had a great time on this trip, even though the weather is less than optimal. This bodes well for our Chilkoot plans later this summer, as the Chilkoot is a less strenuous hike (it has about half as much climbing).

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer!

Monday Biking Fun

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Last year I noticed that a new trail was being put in the Angel Creek valley in the Chena River SRA. This trail is supposed to replace the very rutted existing trail that runs along the base of the valley. The existing trail is pretty wet and really only passable during the winter. Impassible unless you have an ATV, apparently, judging from the ruts. The new trail is routed up high and is supposed to side-hill up the valley, making for a durable, dry trail. Anyway, as I had nothing to do on this fine Monday I decided to go check it out on my bike. While I was out there I also intended to bike into Stiles Creek Cabin and see how that trail is in the summer.

The new trail to Lower Angel Creek cabin is great and makes for fantastic biking. It starts off with a nice climb that offers great views:

It then side hills up the valley for 5 miles or so, then hits an intersection where you can drop down to Lower Angel Creek cabin, or continue on for a hundred feet or so.

The developed trail dead ends at this point, but it appears that it will continue on as its cleared and flagged for quite a distance, so it looks like State Parks plans to extend it to the upper cabin.

I stopped by the lower cabin and checked out the log book – a party of bikers had just been by the day before so it looks like this trail will be pretty popular in the future.

The winter trail past the lower cabin heading out to the upper cabin was marked as closed to motorized vehicles, but alas there was fresh tracks on it from some large ATVs.. The trail did have a very pretty display of some white flowers that appeared to be only growing on the trail, not off the trail, making for a nice effect.

The trail is really fun on a bike – its dry, free of ruts, and has lots of nice mellow climbs followed by short descents as it works its way around the valley. Alas, its a bit short, being only a little over 10 miles round trip, but hopefully it will get extended to the upper cabin, making for a longer ride. There are only a couple of tricky parts where crushed rock was brought in to fill in some muddy sections. These sections are very passable, but require a little care – no big deal.

There is one nice small pool of water off the side of the trail, which Remus enjoyed, and a couple of dry pools.

I am looking forward to skiing this trail this winter – it should make for a fantastic loop when combined with the old trail!

A map:

On the way back I stopped by Stiles Creek Trail and biked into Stiles Creek Cabin. This was a pretty fun ride that is a little under 8 miles one way. By the time we were half way to the cabin Remus was a bit beat – it was hot and he is a little out of shape, as alas am I. Fortunately, at least for Remus, it started raining shortly after the half way point and he cooled off in the downpour. I, on the other hand, got nice and muddy.

DNR has been making lots of improvements to this trail. They re-routed the first several miles of trail to get around a massively muddy section, which has made the trail a very fun summer bike ride. DNR is apparently still working on it – they had some tracked equipment near the start of the trail:

And some signs of trail hardening still in progress – you can tell where the trail work stopped:

This is the first time I had been on this trail on a bike in the summer and it is very, very fun! The trail winds though mixed deciduous and spruce forest and is very scenic.

Alas, the rain hampered by picture taking, so I didn’t get any pictures good enough to do justice to the route.

On the way out I stopped to toss bits of a broken tequila bottle off the trail and was surprised to find a bunch of parts from a rear derailer.

After making it out to the parking lot, Remus jumped into the back of the truck and went right to sleep – I think I wore the guy out! Alas – no sleep for me as I had to drive home.

Both these trails are highly recommended bike rides and are very worth the hour drive from Fairbanks.

As a side note, I have really been enjoying my new bike, a 2008 Gary Fischer Paragon. I picked it up last fall at Goldstream Sports and have really been enjoying it. It is an amazing transition from my old Kona 96 vintage Aa. It rides wonderfully and is a nicer bike than I need these days – life is tough!

Hope you all are enjoying summer!

A Nugget Creek Repeat!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Tom, Ms Marsh, and I did a repeat of a trip Tom and I did last year – a hike, float. bike loop that visits Nugget Creek Cabin in the Chena River State Receration Area. This time we did it when the Chena was pretty high, and it was a much more fun float – the water was fast and there was no low water dragging at all. The river guadge at 40 mile was reading about 17.14 ft during the middle of the day. This is a wonderful high water float – there are sweepers but nothing really dangerous so long as you are paying attention, and the south fork flows a lot faster during high water making the float quite a bit more fun.

The river at Nugget Creek Cabin was almost bank full.

State Parks is in the process of putting in a new trail that will start somewhere around 1st bridge – this should make this a “instant classic” easy water pack rafting route.

They also improved the marking substantially – which is super as parts of the existing trail are very hard to follow. Wahoo!

The hike is a little under 6 miles, and the float is about 20 miles from Nugget Creek Cabin to the Rosehip campground.


A Map:

More pictures here:

Nugget Creek Hike Float, 2010

Chena Dome In a Day

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Last year I did Chena Dome as a day hike, and it was fun enough that I decided it should be a yearly ritual. This year it was hotter, dryer, and slightly slower. The trail is pretty dry right now, with a couple of tundra pools that had water but otherwise was very dry.

After about 1 pm (mile 9 or so) a thunder storm moved though the area, making this ridge hike a bit iffy. Storms blew though sporadically for the rest of the day, making things a bit fun.

Twice I felt a bit of static electricity that caused the hairs on my arms to feel funny, but this could be my imagination – regardless it let me to several mad “get off this ridge” dashes.

It was super hot, with highs in the mid 80’s. I drank a little over 2 gallons of water on the trail and was still quite dehydrated when I finished. My total time was a little under 12 hours.

This hike is fantastic and is well worth doing. Its a lot of work – there are only a couple of short flat sections, so you are either climbing or descending, but it makes up for this with superb views and wonderful ridge hiking. Its a bit mentally challenging at times as you are always either looking at the hill you are climbing or going down and looking at the climb you will be doing next. Such is life – trails this beautiful must have a price to pay in one form or another. Chena Dome does not get a lot of traffic – I seldom encounter other folks while hiking it.

I am going to try something a bit new with this trip – I took lots of pictures, geo-tagged them, and put in them in a Picasa Album so folks can get a feel for what the trail is like. You can find a click-able google map bellow with images – zoom in and click on one of the photos to get an idea what the trail is like at that point. Hopefully folks fine this useful – enjoy!


View Larger Map

The First Float of the Year

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Rumor had it that the Chena was now floatable, so Tom, Ms Marsh, and I headed out to float from 3rd bridge to 1st bridge. The float was wonderful, the Chena was ice free, and fun was had by all.

We put in at 3rd bridge, and we quickly zoomed down river, as the water was running a bit high and fast. There were no log jams, and no sweepers of note.

It was exciting to be back in the packraft.. though the floating was a bit on the “mellow” side without a lot of excitement. Which was perhaps for the best, as the water was pretty cold.

We were a bit concerned about how free the Chena would be of ice, but the only ice we encountered was broken up and floating in a slough.

I did a beached seal imitation on some of the larger pieces..


Most of the float we just bobbed along, as the Chena was amazingly free of any sweepers and other river related excitement.

The float was pretty relaxed but was great for getting me in the mood for summer floating – hopefully some I will get some fun packraft trips in this summer!

Mid winter I picked up a new floating jacket with seals on the wrists and neck and had been wondering how well it would keep out water when I end up swimming – so I took several test swims and it did amazing well, keeping most of the water out. After jumping into the river three times I had a small amount, perhaps 1 to 2 cups, but was mostly dry, so the new top combined with my old float pants is quite a success!

More pictures for the photo inclined:

First float of the season

A family trip to Colorado Creek Cabin

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

On a wonderfully warm and sunny Saturday, the famly and I plus some friends headed out to Colorado Creek Cabin for the weekend. Colorado Creek cabin is perfect for family trips – its not a very long trip, only six miles, the cabin is fairly spacious, and the surrounding area provides lots of distractions. Trusten and his daughter Robin snowmachined, while the rest of us (the twins, Nancy, and her niece Rabiah) skied out. The twins did not actually ski, but instead rode in the comfort of the Chariot, and had a wonderful nap on the ride in.

I am always amused by the girls and how they view shortish ski trips – they get in the chariot, go to sleep, we ski to the destination, then they wake up .. Ta Da – we are there – like magic!
I pulled the twins on the way in and out. The trail into the cabin is fairly flat (besides a short climb near the beginning of the trail), and is a pretty fast ski normally. The trail winds though a valley of black spruce and crosses two small creeks, and is normally not all that exciting of a ski. Pulling the twins changed things a bit, as the extra weight made the uphills harder, and the down hills faster.. Quite a workout.
The first stream crossing normally has a bit of overflow. On the way in it was very manageable.

On the way out it was a different scene – all tore up with about a foot of water and broken ice. I had to take the skis off and tip the chariot way back, but we made it without the twins getting wet. Or in the twins case, even waking up from slumber land.
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Once we made it to the cabin the Twins where pried out of their comfortable conveyance, they helped me gather firewood, start a fire, and get the dogs situated, and other cabin chores.

There was also the lots of snacking – riding in the chariot apparently generates quite an appetite!

Soon the rest of the crowd arrived and the fun begin. Our niece Rabiah was visiting from Boston and did a great job on the ski despite rough trail conditions.

The trail continues on past the cabin, up a large hill with a huge number of switchbacks, just steep enough for good sledding. Everyone spent several hours going up and down the hill on the sled we brought..

Eventually everyone retired to the cabin, where the younger generation where taught to play go fish by Nancy ( Lizzy kept insisting on asking people for cards she did not have, much to everyones amusement) among other entertainments. Trusten wowed us all with his fantastic sandwich retaining method – rubber bands.

After a good nights sleep everyone enjoyed pancakes and bacon (no bacon for nancy though – its hard being a vegetarian). I should point out that it was a good night of sleep for me, as I slept outside with the dogs – apparently Lizzy kept throwing off her covers, waking up, and complaining she was cold – its time for the twins to use sleeping bags it appears!
The ski out was fast, except of the broken up overflow. I ended up wading around in foot deep water and having to chance my socks, but it was not the end of the world. While heading back to town we stopped at Mias – the place of the perfect hamburger, and there was much happyness!

A Solstice ski on the Compeau Trail

Friday, December 25th, 2009

On a brisk day near winter solstice (the actual solstice falls on the following day) I joined Dan, Ed, Ann, and Heather for a day ski on the Compeau trail in the Chena River SRA.  I had biked part of the Compeau trail in the summer, but had never skied it, and approached the outing with a bit of trepidation as the only person I had talked to about skiing it had said it was nearly impossible.  I should not have worried however, as it turned out to be a quite a fun ski, with only a handful of terrifyingly steep sections.   We skied out to Colorado Creek cabin first, which was still warm from the previous tenants, had a short snack, then headed up the Compeau to the top of the ridge.  The initial climb was very pleasant, with lots of switchbacks and hardly any steep sections.  Once we reached the top of the ridge we then followed a old dozer line to a fire break installed in the summer of 2004.  There were a handful of fairly steep climbs and descents but everything was manageable on skis.  I had a number of crashes ( I think four total – I led the crash count by a wide margin) but nothing too tremendous.  Eventually we rejoined the Compeau trail and were treated too a 10 mile decent to the Chena Hotsprings winter trail that was quite pleasant and very fun.  Once at the bottom we followed the Chena Hotsprings winter trail back to Colorado Creek trail parking lot, and we where finished, only 26 miles later.   This loop evolved lots and lots of climbing and was quite a workout.    This is a fantastic day trip, and highly recommended!  The Compeau trail is very skiable, with wide switchbacks on the downhills.  The new reroute on the beginning of the Colorado Creek trail is a wonderful addition that cuts out the heavily rutted sections, which is a great improvement.

The following photos are complements of Ed, as I forgot my camera in the car, alas.
 
The views from the trail along the ridges was fantastic.

The lower sections of trail wind though black spruce forest and is quite scenic.

The Alaska range was back lit by the low angle solstice sun for most of the day, and was extremely beautiful.

The twins go to Stiles Creek Cabin

Monday, December 7th, 2009

On a unnaturally warm Saturday, the family and I headed off to Stiles Creek cabin in the Chena River SRA. Molly and Lizzy got to ride in a sled hauled by the dogs and napped most of the way. It must be strange to go on ski trips by going to sleep as you leave the parking lot and wake up in at your destination..  We loaded up in the parking lot, strapped the girls (and Chicken, Lizzys latest stuffed animal friend) into the sled and took off.

The taking off part took longer than one would expect – getting the twins settled in, three dogs harnessed, and two adults onto skis takes a while, alas.

The Stiles Creek trail has been rerouted in the last year and has lots of switchbacks which slowed things down to a crawl occasionally as the sled tried to cut the switchbacks.  Eventually we made it past the switchbacks and things sped up a lot.

After a two hour nap, the twins woke up and demanded snacks.  Soon they were snacking on granola bars and dried pears while zipping along..  Ahh the luxury! 

Soon we arrived at the cabin, and the twins were taken out of their warm sled compartment and they got to help find wood, get the stove started, and of course more snacking. 

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After snacking came playing outside, even more wood gathering, and finally dinner, followed by more snacking (also known as desert).  We were joined in the cabin by Margaret and Trusten and their daughter Robin.  Robin and Trusten came via snow machine, and Margret via skis.

I had made a trip to this cabin as a day trip several weeks earlier and after a half hour I had the inside of the cabin above 0f, thanks to the plentiful quality of fire retardant wood (green birch and alder burn oh so well) left by the previous visitors.  We had left a plentifully supply of wood that one could actually burn, but to be prepared, I skied down the last hill dragging a nice dry spruce log.

Dinner was a tasty selection of mixed pasta and Parmesan cheese for the younger generation and Indian food and pasta with spicy peanut sause for the adults.  Yum, yum!

 The younger crowd  got endless fun out of the cabins loft.  The stairs were a big hit, as were the glow sticks.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jMeWF3d80Q]
After a night of goofing off and mellowing out, morning came and we had to pack up and head out.  The trail heads up a steep hill right out of the cabin, so we headed off on foot.  Lizzy and Molly were quite the troopers, and made it to the top of the hill unassisted (if you don’t count several rations of grandma’s fruit leather and a granola bar each as assistance).
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Robin and Trusten zipped away on their snowmachine, while we walked up the hill. Robin dropped a kitkat on the way out, which was very nice of her, as I was quite hungry.

Once up the hill the twins hopped into the sled and we zoomed off down the trail.

It was a little too hot for the dogs and they were less than happy going up one of the hills, but otherwise it was a uneventful ride out.

Stiles Creek Trail day ski

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

On a nippy Monday morning Tom and I set off for a day ski out to Stiles Creek Cabin in the Chena River SRA. It was fairly cold (-20f according to the thermometer at Pleasant Valley Store) but otherwise quite an excellent ski.

The Stiles Creek Trail had undergone some re-routing and we were looking forward to skiing the new sections.  The re-route made for some fantastic skiing.  Before the reroute the trail dropped off the final hill and descended steeply.  The new sections cut back and forth though the old trail and make the steep sections (once described to me by a fairly good skier as “the most terrifying thing I have ever skied”) very ski-able and quite fun.    This was quite a contrast to the original trail which could be quite terrifyingly fast.

Polar and Remus had a wonderful time running around and enjoying the smells.

Once we reached the top we were treated with fantastic views of the nearby ridges.    Once of the nice things about this trail is that it crosses a wide variety of the forest types that the greater Fairbanks area offers – it goes though birch groves, poplar trees, black spruce forest swamp, white spruce stands, and a small section of alpine ridge top.

The trail has a lot of climbing on the way into the cabin but the reward for this is a fair number of fun downhill sections on the way out.

After 8 miles or so we reached Stiles Creek cabin and ducked inside to warm up.  After about 30 minutes we had the cabin above freezing..  Which was enough to start drying off Toms pants.

The rest of the ski out was quite fun and much faster as there is a lot of downhill.
As mentioned earlier, the reroute makes for much more fun skiing. There were two sections on the old trail that were quite unpleasant. On the way in the drop off the ridge to the cabin was pretty hairy – it was steep and the trail was canted downhill which when combined together made for less than fun skiing. On the way out the final drop off the ridge was very steep and fast, with mistakes potentially rewarded by the trunks of large birch trees – this also made for less than fun skiing. Both these issues are fixed with the reroutes – the final decent to the cabin was rerouted with enough switch backs such that it is easily ski-able and the drop off the main ridge on the way out was also rerouted such that it is a lot less steep and with wide enough turns for easy skiing. Hurray! Major kudos to DNR for improving this trail!

More pictures follow, for the photo inclined.

The trail at the its high point.


Afternoon sun.

The sunset as we skied out.  We skied the last couple of miles in the dark, alas.