Posts Tagged ‘day trip’

Visit to Bus 142..

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

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When I just out of high school (in the early 1990s, darn I feel old!) I remember reading about a trip I think Roman Dial did in Denali NP, when they bike in the park road, floated down the Toklat, and hiked/pushed their out the stampede trail past bus 142. I think this was just around the time Into the Wild came out, but well before I was aware of it, and my first exposure to the McCandless story. I remember being in awe of the adventure the two bikers had, I have always been nonplussed by all the interest into Christopher McCandless’s life, but I was eventually convinced by Tom to bike out there with him.

Tom has never been excited about winter camping, so the plan was to do it as a long day trip, riding in and out of the bus on fat bikes. We were anticipating a fairly long day, and so spent Friday night in the Nord Haven (a great place, highly recomended!), and headed out early-ish in the morning to ride to the bus.

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The start of the trip was uneventful, we quickly found the road was in much better shape than we expected, though I did park earlier than I could have. The bike in was fast and fun. In places there was an amazingly firm wind crust that was stout enough to ride on. I had come prepared with maps of the route, but it wasn’t really necessary – there were a few side trails, but it was clear where the main trail was. I briefly caught a glimpse of a wolf (or possible a large feral dog) that took off at warp speed once it saw me, then several large groups of caribou. The trail in was fairly scenic, but nothing spectacular.

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Tom is hoping to write up the visit for publication, so there was lots and lots of photo taking.

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Eventually we reached the bus, and we poked around for a bit. The bus was, at least for me, fairly depressing. It is clear it has deep meaning for a lot of people, judging from the things left there, the writing in the various log books, and the graffiti left on the walls.

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Perhaps it is almost a religious experience for them – a search for meaning in modern life. I find it sad that it appears people are finding it here..

The bus is in fairly bad shape and is missing lots of windows.

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The wood stove was intact, but it isn’t going to keep that thing warm. There were a couple of pretty odd items there, including a huge spiked club, which I had fun waving around and pretending to be insane – good classy fun.

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Tom enjoying poking around the bus, and getting some classy poses in as well..

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The ride out was uneventful, and we stopped at Clear Sky Lodge on way back, enjoying their fantastic burgers.

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Hope everyone is enjoying winter!

A Map:

(more details here:)

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.

End of the snow?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

On a fine Wednesday I found myself with a day off work and no family commitments, and decided to go check out the trails in the Whites. The plan was to see if I could get some late season snow biking in, but I also took skis just in case things were too soft. The trails were in great shape, probably the best all year.

The biking was great, but a bit slow as it was a little hot for Remus the dog.

I ended up doing a 35 mile loop, out to Moose Creek cabin, then across to the Trail Shelter, than back out. It was a beautiful day..

The Wickersham Creek crossing on the Moose Creek trail was all broken up by some snow machines who past me heading out. I attempted to get across without getting wet, but alas no such luck. I ended up just walking across carrying the snowbike, it was knee deep, quite a bit deeper than I expected. The sun was out, and it was very warm (hot even!) so not a big deal. Remus swam across, and was very excited to play in the water.

We stopped at the Trail Shelter to loll around a bit in the sun and have lunch. Lunch was greek yogurt and a bagel.

Remus had a bit, and agreed it was pretty good.

The trail softened up a bit in the late afternoon, but it was still wonderful biking.

It looked like the biking should be good for a couple more days, and the skiing should be good for at least a week or so. Get your last bit of spring fun in now, before its gone!

A Winter Granite Tors Hike

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Tom, Ms Marsh, and I (plus Remus the dog, if he counts), spent a wonderful Sunday hiking the Granite Tors. I love this trail in all its seasons and this hike was no exception. Here are some photos that sum up the experience.. or attempt to anyway. Enjoy!

Next time I need to bring the “Big” camera and get some better photos!

Ouch!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I had not hiked the Summit Trail in the White Mountains NRA yet this year, and as I was running out of snow free time for hiking I decided to get off my butt and day hike it. It is a wonderful hike ridge hike with marvelous views of the White Mountains and the surrounding lowlands. It was going to be a fairly long day, but doable – 34 miles or so round trip taking somewhere from 10 to 12 hours. Remus and I left a little less early than i would have preferred but we eventually reached the trail head and started hiking at 9am. I think in the end Remus might have wanted to have stayed home… more on this later.

It appeared that BLM had been working the muddy sections in the beginning or perhaps the trail was just naturally drying out.. in any case it was in better shape that it was last time I was here. Kudos to BLM!

BLM (or possibly someone else with a sence of humor) had installed a boot brush near the start of the trail.

I found this contrivance amusing, as really only a quarter mile of the trail’s 17+ mile length has any mud. Hopefully it is put to good use.

The fall colors were out in force making for nice scenery.

The Summit trail winds its way from the trail head to the side of Wickersham Dome, then follows a ridge down from the dome to another small rounded mountain and then down to the winter trail a few miles from Beaver Creek. My plan was to go to winter trail then turn around and head back. The trail is in good shape and the walking was fast and pleasant.

Remus was having fun…

I had to slow down for some of the board walked sections as they still had a bit of frost or ice on them on the way it.

The older boardwalk sections had taken a bit of a beating recently. It looks like the trail has become popular with the equestrian crowd, and the hooves had taken a bit of a toll on the older boardwalk.

Not too big of a deal, as the older boardwalk has always been fairly beat up. The rest of the walking was wonderful.

BLM had done some additional work in a couple of the boggy sections between the dome and the shelter. These sections seemed to be holding up pretty well and a nice improvement.

When we arrived at the trail shelter I stopped to check out the log book to see who had visited recently but just before opening the door I noticed someone’s stuff inside and moved on, a bit worried I had woken up someone trying to sleep in.

Apparently I hadn’t woken anyone up as I encountered the couple staying at the shelter a mile or further down the trail out on a day hike. They had three cute and well behaved husky mixes that Remus enjoyed saying hi to.

Near the top of a hill I stopped to snap a quick picture of an interesting trail marker, and then picked up the pace a bit to catch up with Remus.

Just as I was about to catch up with Remus I spotted a porcupine just ahead of us on the trail. Alas, Remus spotted it too, and ignoring my yells pounced on it. Ouch. Remus came zipping back to me with a nice face full of quills, with enough inside his mouth that he was having trouble closing his jaw. Much saddess. I yanked all the ones I could get to inside his mouth as fast as I could with my hands, then dug into my pack to find the small mini-pliers that is in my fix-it-kit. Alas, i had trimmed down the kit a bit on last weekends Kanuti trip, and had not put the pliers back into the kit. No pliers – even more saddness! Attempting to do the best I could in the situation I started pulling the quills out with my fingers as fast as I could. Alas, slimy quills are pretty hard to grip and it was a slow process. After 15 minutes or so of this the other hikers caught up with me and loaned me a leatherman. The woman, who’s name I forgot alas, helped me hold Remus’s lip up while I removed the rest of the quills inside his mouth that I could reach and most of them from the outside of his mouth and nose. The man, Sven, watched from a few feet away holding onto his three dogs. His dogs looked on with wide amazed eyes – watching me yank quills appeared to be making quite an impression on them. After 10 minutes or so we got all the ones I could get out and I gave back the leatherman, thanked the couple, and headed back to the trail head as fast as possible in an attempt to make it to the vet before it closed. Poor Remus was a sad, sad camper.

We made it out and to the vet before they closed, and Remus got the most of remaining quill removed while comfortably sedated. He had quite a few on the inside of his mouth broken off or lying under the skin in his gums that I could not get out, as well as a fair number broken off on the outside of his muzzle. After returning from the vet he spent to the rest of the evening crashed on the floor, so out of it the cat snuck up on him to give him a sniff to make sure he was not dead. The cat normally gives Remus a wide berth as he is pretty high strung and “bouncy like Tigger” as the twins put it, so having him crashed out on the floor insensible was quite a novelty.

While I was writing this I noticed he had a little sharp point on the top of his noise – I pulled at it and it got longer. Another tug and I pulled an inch and a half quill out of the top of his nose. I expect the dequilling processing will be ongoing. I showed the quill to the twins and they were quite impressed.

I feel a rather sorry I didn’t thank the couple with the leatherman more thoroughly – they came by at exactly the right time and saved my day. Next time I will make sure I take a pliers, though I hope that Remus learned his lesson.

More photos: Summit Trail Porky Hike

Chena Dome in a Day – the 2011 edition

Monday, August 29th, 2011

One of my favorite hikes in the greater Fairbanks area is Chena Dome. It is a wonderful 30 mile long ridge hike, with wonderful views and fantastic walking, and lots of climbing. I have made it a goal to hike it at least once a year. Lately I have been doing it as a long day hike, taking a little less than 12 hours to finish the loop. Doing it as a day hike means you don’t have to carry a heavy pack up and down all those hills. You can read about some of the other times I have hiked this trail with the family and as a day hike. It took us about 11.5 hours to hike the 30 miles and 8k to 14k feet of climbing (how much actual climbing there is is open to debate apparently) , which is about what it has taken me the other two times I have done it. Not nearly as fast as the rumored sub 7 hour times some of the local hot shot runners have done it in, but fast enough we got home at a reasonable hour.

My friend Tom, who joined me for this adventure, maintains that fall has yet to arrive, though I think the tree’s colorful display’s disagree with him.



The fireweed was in full color too.





The views from the ridges were, as always, fantastic.



Tom and I had fantastic weather for the hike for most of the day, though we had a brief and heavy rain storm while we were at the trail shelter at mile 17.



After the rain storm it appeared that a section of the ridge we had been on a hour or so before now a dusting of snow. It was nice to have missed that.



Near mile 8 there is a old plane crash.



The rubble and twisted plane parts has always been a pretty sad sight for me and a reminder of how dangerous air travel in Alaska was back in the day, and to some extent still is today. When I got back into town I decided to spend a bit of time looking for details on the crash. It appears the crash was a Curtiss C-46 operated by Transocean Airline on a flight from Umiat to Fairbanks. The plane crashed late in the evening on December 30, 1951. The details can be found here.

A photo of the plane, prior to the crash, complements of www.taloa.org .




I would love to know the full details of the crash if anyone has them. I found reference to a rescue attempt in -70f temperatures but was unable to find the CAB report on the accident – if anyone has it I would love to read it.

More photos can be found here.

Doing Far Mountain Trail in a Day

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Last year Tom, Ms Marsh, and I did a hike and float that included Far Mountain, and ever since then I have been very interested in doing the full loop as a day hike. Eventually I ended up with a free Monday and along with Tom found myself heading up the Far Mt. Trail. The trail starts near Chena Hotsprings parking lot (the actual start of the trail is a bit hard to find with a few side trails and roads that make things a bit confusing – check with the folks at the Chena Hotsprings activity center for a map if you have problems) and after crossing the bridge over Monument Creek the trail heads up a ridge and the climbing begins.

The Far Mountain trail loops around Monument Creek valley on a series of ridges. There are lots of ups and down, with between 8k and 14k feet of climbing, depending on who you ask (I measured around 8,000 feet of climbing – that is 8,000 feet of going up). The trail is a little less than 27 miles. The views from the high points on the ridges are fantastic.




There are also several interesting granite tor formations.



Far Mountain itself is a little underwhelming, as it has a large communication facility on top, complete with generators and a couple of large towers.



The majority of the trail is well above the tree and brush line making for wonderful alpine hiking, though there is a section of spruce forest near the end.



The day we hiked it it was was partly cloudy, but it can get quite socked in.
On a clear day:



On a foggy day:



The last mile or so is very muddy.



It appeared that the muddy section was in the middle of some trail work of some sort, however as it appeared the equipment had stirred the mud up into a froth and re-routed a small stream to run down the trail perhaps these repairs might do more harm than good…

This is a highly recommended long day hike. It took us a little less than 12 hours of walking at a brisk but not rushed pace. As an overnighter it is more challenging due to the limited water sources. There are tundra pools in several places around mile 7 or so, but after that there was not much water to be found.




My dog Remus was a bit dehydrated near the end, and I had to give him a some water from one of my bottles near the end of the day. Getting water would mean a long drop down to the one of the creeks at the bottom of the valleys.

The hike has a fairly remote feel, besides the stuff on top of Far Mountain. On the day we hiked it some military planes were out training and made a bit of noise, but otherwise it we didn’t see anyone on the trail.



One day or several, its a beautiful hike and well worth doing.

If you do this hike during berry season, the blueberries can be fantastic.



A map – like all the photos in this blog click it to see the image in greater detail. A better map can be found here. Kyle Jolly’s book Outside In the Interior has a chapter on this hike.



More photos can be found here. Sorry for the low word and high picture count – I have been a bit slow on the blog front lately, but more coming soon!

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.

Pinnell In a day

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

I have had plans to hike the Pinnell Mountain Trail as a day hike for most of the summer. This weekend things lined up and I headed off to hike it, joined by Tom. Alas, Remus had to stay home, as the trail heads are separated by about 20 miles required either two cars or a bike shuttle, and we opted for more fun but not dog friendly option of a bike shuttle.

Tom and I left town shortly after 7am in order to get a early start on what I expected to be a long day – 10 hours of hiking, 6 hours of driving round trip, and 2 hours of bike shuttle action. Fortunately the drive though coffee huts were open this early, which was a pleasant surprise and there was much rejoicing, hurrah!

The drive to the trail head was pretty uneventful, though we got a flat near 12 mile summit. When we stopped to unload our bikes for the shuttle I though I could hear a whistling sound, which sounded like air escaping from one of the tires. I drove the car back and forth while Tom watched the tire in question but nothing out of the ordinary could be seen, so we pressed onwards, only to have the tire go flat in a couple of miles.

Amazingly, the folks I bought the tire from replaced the flat free of charge – which was quite nice of them, as the cut in the tire was pretty large. I was quite pleasantly surprised when they told me that as the cut was unrepairable, they would just give me a new tire.


Shortly after the tire change we reached Eagle Summit and began our hike. We ran into some other hikers right out of the parking lot. They appeared non-plussed by our fanny packs and lack of packs and my attempts to engage them in conversation were foiled by one word responses..

The weather from this point on was fantastic – the day started overcast and a bit gray, but the forecast was for it to clear and become quite warm. By the time we started hiking the clouds were pretty much gone, the was a slight breeze, and the sun was out – fine weather for a long day hike.

The Pinnell Mountain trail sticks mainly to a series of ridges and it winds around or and goes over a number of small mountains and domes. It has a number of climbs, and one moderately hard climb but nothing very difficult and the effort is rewarded by superb views.

The hike is entirely above tree line with no brush at all and is normally quite dry.

There are two small shelters on the trail. These shelters are pretty small but can be very welcome in harsh weather as the trail is pretty exposed.

They also feature water catchment systems that made our hike much, much, easier, as we knew we could rely on water at the shelters.

On this hike I experimented with using a very small fanny back and it worked great – there was just enough room to get the basics in (rain jacket, first aid kit,etc ), a handful of snacks., and two bike bottles. The small size definitely helps you cut down on what your are taking, as you really can not fit much in it.

At the first shelter it soon became clear that we were hiking a bit faster than expected and would finish well under my estimated 10 hours – this was good of course but a bit surprising.

This trail features lots of interesting rock formations, including a rock shaped like a face.

A little past the face rock we encountered the 4th and final hiker we would see on the trail. This guy was hiking the trail as a four day trip with his black lab and was busy scanning the valleys with binoculars when we encountered him. He had yet to see any wildlife but brightened up substantially when I mentioned that we had just seen a caribou around the corner. Near the middle of the the trail there is a long section of board walk along the low point of the trail. This section is called “Swamp Saddle” and even with the boardwalk can be a bit wet. The boardwalk is a mixed bag – when its nice weather the boardwalk makes for nice and dry travel, however near freezing it becomes very, very slippery and hard to walk on.

It appears that BLM is in the process of upgrading this section of trail, as there was a number of caches of building materials along this section of trail.

The boardwalk only lasts a mile or so, then its back to ridge hiking and nice views.

The second shelter at mile 18 is pretty much identical to the one at mile 10 – though it is a bit less exposed.

We filled up on water again and I chugged a extra bottle fun as a I was getting a bit deydrated at this point. The remaining 10 miles of trail went by pretty fast.

There is one moderately steep climb with a huge number of switchbacks after the second shelter, but otherwise the trail is fairly mellow, and after the steep climb the trail starts heading downhill, making for fast walking. We reached the bikes after 8 and a half hours of hiking, quite a bit less time than I expected. We only ran a very short section – Tom is training for the equinox marathon but I am alas not in that good of running shape currently so we only ran a short section. The trail is almost entirely runnable and would make a great, though long, trail run.
After reaching the 12 mile summit trail head, we gorged on snacks and then jumped on our bikes and headed off to Eagle Summit. As this point I was getting a little dehydrated and as it was now very hot and calm I was soon quite dehydrated. Tom zoomed ahead invigorated by the thought of biking uphill in the hot sun… Eventually I reached Eagle Summit and dove into the cooler in the back of the truck and enjoyed the cool sodas stashed away there. By the end of the day I had had 2 quarts of power aid, 8 20oz bike bottles of water, and 40 oz of pop – thats two and a quarter gallons of liquid! I was still not hydrated when I got home and had to drink several additional quarts of water before I started feeling reasonably hydrated.

The trip ended up taking a little under 6 hours of driving round trip, 8.5 hours of hiking, and 1.5 hours of biking – quite reasonable for a long day trip. My fanny pack setup worked great and forced me to pack a bit lighter than I normally do, which was good. The fanny pack setup also worked pretty well for the brief bit of running I did, so it might be a good option for trail runs in the future.

Pinnell Mountain trail is a classic interior hike and well worth doing. It has super fine views, the trail is in pretty good shape, the climbs are not very challenging, and the trail is amazingly brush free – all in all a fantastic hike. It can be done as a reasonable 2 day hike or mellow 3 day hike if long day hikes are not your thing. Its a spectacular hike!

More photos for this picture inclined: Dayhiking Pinnell Mountain Trail.

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!