Snow on the Trail

A Photo Journey…

Lisa and I headed up to the Superior Hiking Trail again recently. Strangely enough, not a lot of weird things happened this time. It was such a wonderful day! There was a lot of snow on the trail and it was beautiful! Take a photo journey with us…..

Cool Bridge over the frozen Sucker River

Sucker River Trailhead

This was our starting point. Located about 5 miles inland from Highway 61 at mile marker 14.9.

Lots of snow!

Snow on the Trail

We had decided that the trail was packed down enough that we wouldn’t need snowshoes.

Campsite along the way
Always good to see the Superior Hiking Trail signs!
Just plain cool. The cycle of life.

Oops

Leaving the snowshoes behind ended up being a poor decision for some of the trail.

Somewhere in the middle of our journey the trail became less packed down and difficult to negotiate.
not sure which way to go with so much snow on the trail
Almost no trail at all here.
Or here.
These are cool!
We thought these wispy things were cool! Anyone know? Please leave us a comment below…. we are curious.
We had just noticed that the sun started to come out and play.

Sunshine!

We couldn’t believe how deeply blue the sky was when the clouds broke open and the sun shined!

Beautiful blue sky!

Evidence of life

We found some abandoned bird housing. We always find interesting things to see on the Trail.

Snow on the Trail and filling this abandoned bird nest
We felt sad until we realized that the former occupants were probably well south of here in much warmer weather!
They left behind a cool home though.

Almost done with this adventure

We wrapped up at the western end trailhead at Fox Farm Road

The trail had become much easier at this point
Snow on the Trail and piled on top of this stump
We just thought this was a little silly.
We don’t know who or what built this. Anyone know? Leave a comment below….

Thank you for coming along on our little journey! It was such a wonderful day. Other than gas in the car, it didn’t cost much of anything. We hope you are finding joy in whatever it is that you are doing!

Please comment below and let us know some of your tricks for having fun on a budget. Or, share your stories on our Your Voices page by clicking here.

Video

See the whole story here.

Another SHT Story

As a rule, not every single experience can be the best experience ever. This was one of those times.

As you’ve probably read in our earlier posts… Lisa and I have been trying to spend some time once a month or so, on the Superior Hiking Trail. This is another SHT story….

This month was no exception. We had a little more learning to do, however.

We had checked the SHT website for trail conditions. https://superiorhiking.org/trail-conditions/ It was going to be snowy and cold, as we should learn to expect, really. We certainly weren’t disappointed with how snowy and cold it was!

This is a very short post, but I needed to share it with you. Lisa and I are all about the bricolage experience, which basically means, to us, taking what we already have and making it work. When we were preparing for this outing, I dug a couple pairs of very old snowshoes out of the garage. One pair was completely unusable due to the deterioration that comes with 20 years of improper storage. The other pair we could make work. We ended up having to buy a pair to make the trip (insert sad face). Along with the snowshoes, we brought along a couple of pair of ski poles that have been in the basement for just as long.

shadows
Mission Creek

When we got to the trail, we realized that we were in for quite a day. The snow was about a foot deep with a 2-inch wind-blown crust on top. Just enough to make foot travel difficult. We punched through the crust and caught the edges of the snowshoes with nearly every step! Seven miles would prove to take all day!

Although the scenery is always beautiful on the SHT, we were getting somewhat frustrated after the first 4 hours when we weren’t even half-way to our finish line. Another 4 hours later, we were exhausted and, quite honestly, a bit crabby. I had parked the car in a location that made me worry all day about finding it towed away when we got back, the loud crunch of the crusty snow underfoot made conversation almost impossible, and the difficult terrain was wearing on our middle-aged legs! It was a departure from the usual singing and joking that we usually engage in.  

So, we took with us some old gear, some old experience from my mountain climbing days, and some old legs to get the job done. It was a very difficult day. But, we did it together. We saw some cool wildlife and took some cool photos. We also learned that, with perseverance (for an entire day!), we could do this and still walk away with a smile on our faces!

Cool trees
Woodpecker condo

As a rule, not every single experience can be the best experience ever. This was one of those times. But there are many more to come. What we learned on the trail that day, we will continue to use to make the most out of every adventure.

Oh!… And the car didn’t get towed. I was worried for nothing. (-:

We were, appropriately, not impressed

Thanks for reading my little tale…. Remember to subscribe for more silliness to come…. And, as always, we’d love to hear from you!  Grab whatcha got and let’s go!

One Time in Alaska

Slogging up the muddy slope to reach the rocky mountainside was a lesson in frustration management. Clearly, I was not the mountain climber that I once was.

A little over a year ago I headed off to Alaska to visit my son, Josh, who was working near Denali National Park for the second summer in a row. It was late in the season, he wasn’t sure if he’d return the following year, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to see what he was up to out there. I bought the airline ticket, told my boss I’d be back in a week, and took off.

Josh

Josh had a tough go of life that year. For privacy, I must refrain from telling the story here. My belief is that he went back to Alaska for a second time, not so much for himself, but to prove to the spirit of a lost loved one that he could go on. He has never been one to let life’s setbacks keep him from exploring and learning. In fact, for Josh, life’s setbacks only seem to encourage the expansion of his dreams and goals.

As is the case for many fathers, I had felt that my parenting skills had been inadequate for the first 22 years of Josh’s life. Maybe I could use this time to bond with my son in his world and not mine for once.

A Goal Realized

My son greeted me in the airport terminal with a smile and a hug. He gestured that we should get outdoors as quickly as possible knowing that I was anxious to do so. Alaska was the last state of the US that I had not visited, and I was eager to complete my long-standing goal. Josh seemed almost as excited as I was to step outside into the warm, lovely, August sunshine miserable, rainy, cloudy, cold, and windy mess that is Alaska in August.

I’m sure it’s not always like that, but for the duration of my only visit there, that was, pretty much, all that I experienced.

We drove for the next few hours, catching up on current life events and making plans for the week. By the time we arrived at his apartment, we had made more plans than we could execute.

Road Trip

We started off the week with a road trip to Talkeetna. The weather was no better than the day before, but we made the most of it. Josh stopped several times along the way to point out and show me many of the little things he had discovered over the past two years. I was fascinated.

Roadside Surprise

He left the paved road at one point for a dirt path that was barely wide enough for the car. He continued until the path crossed a dry riverbed. Then he drove through it!

Josh knows me very well. He was taking me to a rocky beach just beyond, where we would be skipping rocks. I love skipping rocks into water. I don’t know why. I just do.

We spent the next hour competing with one another in various rock-skipping contests until our arms were completely useless.

In Talkeetna, we learned that the town mayor, Stubbs, had died for the last time. He had been a cat and had used up his allotment of lives well before we had arrived. A new one had not yet been elected.

After a bit of hiking on the riverbanks outside of town and a bite to eat, we headed back to Josh’s place.

The Rain

The rest of the week went by in a flash. The day after our road trip we stayed close to Denali. We drove up the park road as far as they let cars go and did some scrambling on an outcropping of rock in the rain. It was always raining.

I’m told that Denali, the mountain, is only seen by 1/3 of the visitors that come to this area with hopes of seeing it. Typically, it is shrouded in cloud cover, making seeing it from a distance a rare treat. Josh and I were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one slope of the mountain. Hardly satisfying. I still count myself among the many who have not seen it. I never did get another chance that week.

We spent the following day hiking a trail through the wilderness… In the rain.

the triple lakes trail from One Time in Alaska
Day hike in the Alaskan Wilderness

The rain let up the next morning and we had a reservation to go whitewater rafting on the Nenana River. After we suited up in dry suits and started paddling, it rained.

Despite the crappy weather, I was simply having a wonderful time. Josh seemed at home in this little roadside encampment of a town. Before I knew it, our time together this week was almost up. Josh needed to get back to work the next day so I would have one day to explore on my own before heading back home.

The Climb

I would head to Mount Healy and climb the Castle Rock side of the peak.

I woke up just before 6 am, well before Josh had to get ready for work. I quietly gathered my gear and snuck out without waking him.

According to the locals that I had spoken with, the round trip to the summit and back should take 5-6 hours. I wondered if I still had it in me to accomplish it in that time frame.

The first hour was torture. Slogging up the muddy slope to reach the rocky mountainside was a lesson in frustration management. Clearly, I was not the mountain climber that I once was. So far, though, no rain yet today.

My pace picked up though, after finally reaching the more easily navigable, rocky ridgeline. The rain clouds loomed in the distance and were approaching fast. I set my sights on the nearest prominent feature and refused to stop for a rest until I had achieved the miniature goal. Next feature, next goal, and so on. I tried to fill my mind with the memories that I had made this week with my son.

The rock was very loose below the ridge that I was following. At one point I watched a small landslide occur as the rocks shifted 100 feet away from me. I’m sure this is a daily occurrence judging from the evidence around me. I’ll stay on the ridge to be safe.

After a few hours, the summit was partially visible. The recently nearby clouds were now upon me obscuring my view. A light snow began to fall but would amount to nothing. At least it wasn’t raining! Not being able to see the next features, I trudged on blindly and rested often. Another hour and I was on top…. Almost.

Cloud Cover on Mt Healy
nearing the summit of Healy from One Time in Alaska
Summit in View

In front of me was a 30-foot-tall wall of rock. I would have to revert to my meager rock-climbing skills and scale it to reach the true summit. I had no ropes or anchors with me. Could I live with myself knowing that I came so close to the goal and turned around? Would anyone know if I fudged the truth? Would anyone really care?

The Summit

I looked around for an easy route up. Someone had done this before. I found a wooden white stake planted in the rocks nearby, apparently marking a weakness in the wall that I could exploit.  

An easy way up?

Success! I sat on top for 20 minutes. The clouds let up for a time, granting me a grand view of the valley below. Fear cost me another 10 minutes before I could commit to down-climbing the wall that had nearly protected the summit from me.

from the summit of Healy from One Time in Alaska
Mt Healy Summit
On Top

The End

Two hours back to the car. Six hours almost to the minute! I was elated!

My little tales don’t always go as well.

Josh drove me back to Fairbanks to catch my plane the next day. He had been a gracious host to say the least. My time in Alaska had been filled with wonder and exploration, but also with admiration for my son, who, for a brief time called it home. I am jealous and probably always will be.