Posts Tagged ‘white mountains’

Winter..

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

We have been having a strange winter this year, complete with rain and ice storms, and many January days near freezing. It hasn’t been good for skiers, but the warm snaps have made for fantastic trails.

I have been attempting to put as many miles on the snow bike as I can in preparation for the ITI, but I have probibly not been getting as much time in as I need. Such is life.. but it is hard to complain with the fantastic weather we have been having, and the wonderful trails.

I managed to escape for day to put in a 75 mile day ride in the Whites, which was fantastic.

Near freezing on the hills, and near zero in the valleys – not much to complain about.

One of the better rides I have enjoyed this winter, and I wished it never ended. If I would had a way to let folks know I would be out longer I would have probably extended the ride to the whole loop. Alas.. but it was still a fantastic day!

I hope everything is enjoying their winter!

It is supposed to be cold..

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I am blessed with a fairly flexible schedule, and a very understanding wife, so when I found myself with a Monday and Sunday free of major commitments I started planning an overnight cabin trip in the White Mountains NRA. The Whites has some of the best hut to hut skiing and snow biking (and walking it turns out) around – a nice trail system, wonderful views, and relatively few people. The plan was to head to Cache Mountain Cabin, with one group coming in the “long” way on bikes, and the other coming in the short way, ~20ish miles, on bikes and skis. The morning of the trip we were down to three bikers and one skier, Tom. As Tom, Remus the dog, and I headed out of town we got a call from the other bikers, who were planning on coming in from a different trailhead and going in the long way, saying they were turning around, as it was raining. Rain in December is pretty uncommon in Fairbanks. Tom and I decided to try our luck, so we headed out, planning on checking out the trail, and turning around if things were too miserable. We arrived at the trailhead, and the weather, while warm, looked pretty nice, and the trail was firm, so we headed off. Tom started off walking as the trail starts off steep..

I started off pushing, but eventually things flattened off and I started riding. The trail was nice and firm and the biking was great, though a bit misty.

And warm..

After 7 miles or so, the trail splits, and unfortuteatly most of the traffic appeared to be going the other direction, and the trail got soft. Not too soft though – it was still ridable and fun, though not fast. There was also a huge downhill, which is always fun.

After a couple more miles of biking I found myself pushing up a big hill, wondering how Tom was doing. The skiing looked to be pretty fast, and I was thinking he would be catching up soon. The answer soon came in the form of loud and distant cursing. It was dead calm, and as there are almost no trees so sound can carry a long way. After one more bout of cursing I decide to wait for Tom and see how he was doing. Eventually I gave up waiting and started walking back.. eventually Tom arrived. Apparently the around freezing conditions made skiing very difficult – it impossible to get any grip on the icy surface of the snow for forward motion on the flats and uphill, and stopping was next to impossible on the downhills. The cursing I heard was Tom’s last two attempts and skiing downhill, before he gave up on skiing and started walking. I asked him if he wanted to turn around, as we where about half way, but he wanted to keep going – even though the skiing was aweful, it is so very rare to be out in the Whites in December, in bairly freezing, calm conditions. Bad skiing, but still a fantastic day! He walked most of the rest of the way in, skiing maybe 4 miles of the 19 (ish) miles into the cabin.

I walked up the hill with him, then continued on. The biking was fun, though slow, and there was a fair bit of pushing. By the end of the day the slightly over freezing temperatures made things a bit soft and squishy. I got to putter around Cache Mt cabin drying off the bike and de-icing everything before Tom arrived, and then enjoyed a evening of talking and goofing off.

The next day it was +20f, the trails were setup bomber for biking – fantastic biking.

Biking past some of my footprints from pushing on the way in made my day.

The skiing apparently sucked still, and Tom enjoyed a nice long walk out.

Thanks Tom for a fantastic trip! Hope everyone is enjoying winter!

PS – For those of you who say I don’t post enough pictures of myself, here you go:

(Yes, I felt like a complete idiot taking this photo!)

First snowbike ride of the season in the Whites..

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

I love the White Mountains in winter. The area sees lots of use, and has a fantastic winter trail system, with great scenery and views. With a Monday free Remus the Dog and I headed for a bike ride in the Whites.

There was a 4 to 5 inches of fresh snow over a nice packed trail. It was mostly rideable..

Though occasionally not..

There was a strong temperature inversion, and the valleys were really cold…

so I stuck to the trail that stays high, and powered on through the soft snow.

Remus had a blast, and enjoyed my slow biking. Snow biking is a bit hard on him, with his short little legs. He prefers I go slowly, and the fresh snow gave him his wish.

On the bike tech note, I am trying a Fatback Sterling tire in the back, setup tubeless. So far I am pretty happy with it, though it is a bit smaller than I would have liked, and it packs up quite a bit in new snow.

I am also running a Bud in the front, and that thing really makes a huge difference is soft snow.

It is going to be a fun winter!

Sorry for the low words to picture count, more coming soon.

Winter..

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

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

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

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

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

Snow!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Every fall I eagerly await the arrival of snow as I look forward to the huge winter trail system that I have right out my backdoor. On a overcast Monday, Tom and I decided to go check out the Summit Trail in the White Mountains NRA and see if winter has arrived yet.

And it had.

It was wonderful to spend a couple of hours wandering around in the snow..

And it got me thinking about winter adventures..

I love all the seasons, but in particular I love winter, and always look forward to the first snow.

We hiked for about 3 hours, then turned around and headed back.

.. But not before enjoying some hi-jinks.

Ouch!

Yay Winter!

Neverending spring..

Monday, May 6th, 2013

We have been having an very late spring. Its early May now, and the trails are still rideable and skiable around my house, though they are getting a bit soft in the late afternoon. With a Monday free, Remus and I set off to see if the trails in the White Mountains are still in good biking shape.

The biking was in a word – fantastic!

Our long days have been balanced by moderately cold nights, keeping the snowpack intact, and the trails firm. A wonderful combination..

Remus and I headed out to Colorado Creek cabin at a mellow pace, stopping to take pictures, enjoying the sunlight, the views, and in Remus’s case, roll around in the snow to cool off. Life is tough..

The trails had a dusting of fresh snow on them, but still fast going and almost no pushing.

Other trail users were out as well..

We turned around after reaching the cabin, and headed a short ways towards Beaver Creek, but turned around, hoping to make it back before the twins bed time.

This spring has been fantastic and while I have been enjoying it, I know that breakup is just around the corner, with summer fun following soon after. Every season has its own fun, and while I am looking foreword to summer.. meanwhile I am really digging what I have now – yay!

One Last Snow Bike Ride..

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

On a fantastically sunny and warm Monday Remus and I headed out to the White Mountains NRA for one last juant on the snow bike.

After a false start after forgetting my bike shoes, I made it out on the trail in the early afternoon, and enjoyed wonderful trails, clear skys, and a superb trails.

It was a bit hot for Remus, but the pace was mellow enough for him to have fun.

Summer is coming, but right now I am still digging spring.. I have had a lot of snow, but I will still be sad to see it all go.

Snow Biking!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Winter is finally here, with colder temperatures and a bit of snow. I managed to get out for my second bike ride in the White Mountains of the winter, and my first ride over 5 hours since the snow has come. It was a wonderful day to be on the bike…

The trails in the Whites are a bit rough, but passable. It should be ok skiing, though a bit thin. The biking was pretty good!

I was surprised to see lots of fat bike tracks and a single set of smaller tires – looks like snow biking just keeps going up in popularity!

The first 6 miles of trail were packed hard, and the riding was fast. Just after Lee’s cabin the trail got a fair bit softer, but the riding was still pretty nice…

I seemed to have the place to myself, with only a small bird and a couple of raven’s interrupting the solitude.

I continued on to Moose Creek cabin, ducked into the cabin to check things out, then turned around and headed back to the parking lot.

A couple of miles before the parking lot Denali came out, backlit by the setting sun. A wonderful way to end a day!

On a bike geek note, I put on some cheap carbon (faux?) levers that added a surprising amount of comfort, mainly warmer (happier!) fingers. Well worth the ~$50, if they hold up.

I hope everyone is enjoying winter!

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!

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!