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…..
Sucker River Trailhead
This was our starting point. Located about 5 miles inland from Highway 61 at mile marker 14.9.
Snow on the Trail
We had decided that the trail was packed down enough that we wouldn’t need snowshoes.
Leaving the snowshoes behind ended up being a poor decision for some of the trail.
We couldn’t believe how deeply blue the sky was when the clouds broke open and the sun shined!
Evidence of life
We found some abandoned bird housing. We always find interesting things to see on the Trail.
Almost done with this adventure
We wrapped up at the western end trailhead at Fox Farm Road
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.
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.
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!
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
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for more silliness to come…. And, as always, we’d love to hear from you! Grab whatcha got and let’s go!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
Two hours back to the car. Six hours almost to the minute! I was elated!
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.