Posts Tagged ‘summit trail’

A long walk under the Aurora..

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

I had been meaning to get out to Borealis cabin in the Whites this fall, hoping to get one last hiking trip before good skiing and snow biking starts, but before the Summit trail became impassible. Eventually plans formed up, and Tom and I headed down the trail a little before noon on a Friday, for what we hoped would be a nice relaxing trip. On the drive I noticed the Chatanika River had a thin crust of ice all the way across it..

Things started off wonderfully, with a fine day, with a little snow.

most of the trail only had a dusting of snow, with the higher sections having a little under 3 inches. It was nice to see snow, and it was a wonderful reminder of the winter to come. I spent a fair bit of time day dreaming of the upcoming winter on the hiking in.. snow biking, skiing, cabin trips, races – all the upcoming winter fun!

Eventually we neared the end of the Summit Trail, and at dusk we could see Big Bend and Beaver Creek.

The cabin we where heading to is on the other side of Beaver Creek, requiring a crossing that should be mid calf deep this time of year. Not a big deal, if you bring neoprene socks and some river crossing foot ware, crocs in my case. From a distance the creek looked clear of ice, but there was an ominous ring of around the edges..

We headed down to the creek and arrived at a slough just before the main river, and were surprised to see solid ice covering its surface. Alas, it was much too thin to support our weight, and so we started hunting around looking for a less ice covered crossing. Eventually we found a mostly ice free crossing point, and with the aid of a large heavy stick, smashed a way across. Remus got a lift, the lucky dog. Soon after that we reached the main river, and much to our annoyance, there the shallow crossing point had a thick ridge of ice in front of it. Crossing at the shallowest section was going to involve a lot of ice breaking. The other complication was that it was nearly dark, and it sort of looked like there was ice on the other side of the creek. It looked like any crossing would involve taking a large stick with us to smash a way to the back once we reached the other side. This was looking fairly unpleasant, so I gave a quick try heading across the ice free but deeper section, but turned around after it got a bit over my knees.

We decided that while the river was crossable, it was going to be a cold, unpleasant morning if we had to ford waist deep water, and started hiking back. It was soon dark, and we spent the next three hours hiking the winter trail back to the nearest shelter cabin to crash for the night.

It was a bit of a trudge, but we were treated to a fabulous aurora display. The northern lights were amazing, probably the best I had seen in quite a while. Alas, after the first mile or so of hiking in the dark my headlamp started flaking out. I swapped batteries, but no luck, it continued to act up. I ended up walking behind Tom using his little bubble of light. It was an interesting trek in the dark, with wonderful aurora, but tricky walking on frozen tussocks.

At one point we heard a funny noise, and as Tom scanned around with his headlamp we saw two eyes staring back at us from a ways down the trail. I flipped on my headlamp without thinking – amazingly it started working again, and the eyes got closer. Eventually a small fox stepped out of the darkness and walked straight up to us, stopping about 10 feet away. I had a bit of a panic moment, grabbing for Remus and digging out his leash in case he decided to give chase, though Remus was a bit too beat to enjoy the moment. The fox stared at us for a bit, then headed off into the brush along the trail. We had some nervous chuckles, as initially the eyes looked pretty darn big and gave us a bit of a jolt. Apparently the headlamp got a jolt too, as it stayed working until we reached the shelter cabin, where it promptly died again. Eventually we were done after 13 hours of hiking, had dinner, and crashed. The morning we hiked out, enjoying a wonderfully sunny morning and early afternoon. The hike was fast and uneventful, though there was a surprisingly large amount of ice on the trail..

There was a long section of ice in the last mile before the mile 28 trail head, which is fairly unusual. If this stays it could be a bit exciting for folks heading out, especially dog teams..

I made it back to town in time for dinner with the family, which was very nice. These late season trips are always hit or miss, sometimes too much snow, sometimes too much water, or the tussocks are not frozen enough for fun walking. I have never been “iced-out” though, so that was an eye opener. No more creek fording until late spring at the earliest! My headlamp flaking out was also a reminder that I have to start carrying a backup again. It could have been a very unpleasant experience, though fortunately it was just annoying. Live and learn!

I am really looking forward to winter now… cabin trips and other adventures with the family, skiing, biking.. Any day now!

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

Mondays..

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I recently decided to go check out the Ester Dome Single track, a new trail system off Ester Dome road. I had been avoiding this area as my perception of them were somewhat coloured by some conversations with some random strangers that made them sound like some sort of mini version of the North Shore of Vancouver trails, suitable for folks with 50lb fully suspended bikes and too much Mountain Dew. Much to my surprise, the trails are actually super fun single track winding though birch and spruce trees. Obviously I shouldn’t talk to strangers.. The trails are very smooth and not very technical but narrow enough to keep me on my toe. The winding banked turns are very, very fun. There is supposed to be a short half mile more technical loop, but I didn’t bump into it. Alas, I now feel bad I didn’t come to any of the trail maintenance sessions.

My photos don’t really do it justice, as I was too busy having fun.

Remus enjoyed it too.

Summer is a bit hard on our dogs – the trails around our house are mainly winter trails and are pretty wet in the summer, so they don’t get as much exercise as they should. I have taken Remus, the youngest of the lot, on several mid/short length (20 mile or so) bike rides recently in an attempt to whip him into shape for the upcoming winter. Remus of course is very excited about this, as any excuse to go for a trip is fine with him.

Remus and I headed out to the Mile 28 trailhead in the White Mountains NRA to go explore and get some outside time. I had intended to bike out the main trail, but headed up the Summit Trail instead. I had never really thought of this trail as bike-able, however it turned out to be excellent riding. A bit rocky in a couple of sections but mostly quite fun. The old board-walked area at around the one mile mark are getting more muddy… I miss the boardwalk..

The ride up to the dome was amazingly pleasant. The view from the top was fantastic.

Once on top I noticed a new trail branching off to the side. It’s cut into the side of the ridge, and is dry and bike friendly, but alas not all that scenic.

The biking on the new trail is great.

Apparently BLM is working on hardening and reworking sections of the Summit trail, re-routing or otherwise dealing with the sections that are muddy. Its good to see BLM spending time on non-motorized trails. Hopefully it all works out. Remus and I continued until the new section appeared to stop, and turned around and headed back to the parking lot and then on the check out the main trail, and then headed home. Happy Monday everyone!

A weekend with the family with a hike and float

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

On a super hot and dry day, the twins and I set off for Nome Creek campground. The plan was for Nancy to bike the 80 miles or so to the Campground while the Twins and I would drive. Later in the day another family along with Tom and Ms Marsh would join us. The drive out was fantastic, with a little smoke near Fairbanks which quickly cleared out as we left town. The twins snoozed the ride away, and we passed Nancy biking along at mile 50 or so. After reaching the camp ground the woke the twins up, and after a little grumbling about the rude awaking, they set off to explore the nearby sandbars.

They had lots and lots of fun exploring the sand and gravel, throwing rocks in the water, and other fun games.

After a couple of hours Nancy arrived and we all spend the afternoon together hanging out on the sandbars enjoying the sun. Eventually we were joined by the additional family and we all hung out having fun and enjoying the fine afternoon. After a dinner of pasta and cheese (a favourite of the twins) everyone hit the sack. Late in the evening Ms Marsh and Tom arrived and joined our encampment. The next day was nice and clear, promising good weather for the float and hike I had planned for the next two days. The twins were quite excited to be camping and quickly got up to go play in the sandbar again, after having a quick breakfast.


The breakfast menu was melon and cereal – yum yum!

After a slow morning Ms Marsh, Tom, and I set off to float down Beaver Creek. leaving Nancy to drive home with the twins. Our plan was to hike out on the Summit Trail the following day.

The water was pretty low – the Nome Creek gauge said 2 to 2.5 ft – which is a about a foot to two feet lower than the other time I floated it. I was not how the low water levels would effect stuff, but it turned out to be fine, though very slow.

Our first sign that something was different was when we reached the confluance of Nome and Beaver Creeks – last time we floated this section there was a nice and fun eddy line where the creeks came together. This time around there was no eddy at all, and the junction was hardly noticeable.

Beaver Creek was still float-able at these water levels, just a bit slow. Shortly after the confluence Ms Marsh found a very out of place trail sign that by the mile markers should have been just outside Windy Gap cabin. However we are well upstream of any trails heading to Windy Gap, and the only trail upstream of us is a dead end trail heading to Richards Cabin. Tom was quick to point out that it was also misspelled. How it got here was a mystery, so I decided to haul it out to Borealis and leave it there for BLM to ponder.

The sign had the added advantage of preventing Ms Marsh and Tom from playing bumper cars with me as they were quite worried about it’s not so sharp edges.

The float was quite a bit slower than when we did it last year – I think it took 9 hours total last year, and this year it took around 12, even though we took fewer breaks. There was quite a bit of mellow floating, bobbing along..

This was not all bad – I got to enjoy some mellow floating and enjoyed a fair bit of recliner time.

We ran into a few small rain storms and a fair bit of distant thunder, but nothing too intense.

We eventually reached Borealis, our takeout spot, and had dinner in the cabin and camped out nearby. In the morning we crossed Beaver Creek and started our hike out.

The hike begins on some very dilapidated board walk and then continues on the winter trail up to the summit trail. Last time I hiked this in the summer I noticed that the board walk appears to continue a ways after the winter trail turns off. I decided to check out the board walk and was surprised to see it continued for a fair bit and cut a bit of the tossuc slogging winter trail section of the hike.

Alas, after crossing the slue the board walk goes away and we were back walking on the tussocky winter trail.
On our hike up the Summit Trail Tom found several reminders of our winter adventures – he found a single stick of swix extra blue, and a White Mountains fuel tag.

After a shortish slog we reached the fine hiking of the Summit Trail – Tom was suitably excited.

The rest of the hike out was fantastic – the trail had great views and is in very good shape. the older sections of board walk had a large number of exposed nails which made things a bit treacherous at times.

The last section of trail was a bit of a mud fest. The trail used to look like this:

Now it looks like this:

Nancy, the twins, and I hiked it when BLM was revamping the trail with an assembly line of small bobcat like tractors.

At the time I had stopped to talk to the trail crew for a while, and they said the plan was to use “ditch and elevate” to remove the board-walk and have the trail dry in the summer and groomable in the winter. Its looking like a bit of a failure, as its a bit of a muddy mess now, in the driest spring I have experienced. Hopefully BLM will get the trail sorted out and have it reach some sort of drier state.

Once past the mud things went by quickly and soon we were at the parking lot, and before we knew it at Hilltop having burgers. Yum! Yum! The hike was fantastic, as was the float, though it would be a bit better to have done it with slightly faster water. Camping with the twins added extra spice and added a bit of extra spice – and of course fun was had by all!


A map:

More photos:

Beaver Creek-Summit Trail float hike