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Old 05-11-2014, 05:53 PM   #1
napDaddy OP
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Input on a months worth of AK adventures

Cheers, Alaska inmates...

My son and I are planning a two month trip to your fine, but very large and very far away state this summer. We figure on two weeks up from Colorado, a month there, and two weeks back.

My question isn't on the roads - there's tons of suggestions and opinions in past threads already, but on outdoor activities once we get there. Here's what we're thinking - and I'm open to suggestions, feedback, pointers toward inmates who run these kinds of activities, etc...

Oh, my son is 20, and this is his first long motorcyle tour. He is not new to adventure travel, though - two summers ago he backpacked the 500 mile Colorado trail solo. I'm 53, but active and in shape enough for backpacking, rockclimbing, and kayaking. We're looking to see and do some of what makes Alaska special.

Right now, our wishlist looks something like this. I'm curious to hear from the AK folks what companies/guides/trips are so enjoyable that even as a local you're willing to spend time or money on them.

1. Ice climbing
Thinking of trying the 1 or 2 day begging ice climbing trips with Exit Glacier Guides out of Seward and/or with Kennicott or St. Elias folks out of McCarthy. This is probably what my son most has his heart set on.

2. Chilkoot Trail
This one I'd like to do. I understand that as a party of 2 we can most likely get a permit within a day or two of showing up in Skagway. I hope that's true, because I'd like to not have to pick a specific day to start, and instead get to be flexible. We're bring backpacks. Also, I'm really looking forward to riding the WP&YR back into Skagway. Other decision here - do we do this on the way up (~6/20, and probably ready for a break from 3000 miles of riding), or head to our farthest north point (Galbraith Lake CG north of Brooks range) to see the sun not set in mid-June, and then try to get on the trail during what will most likely be a busier mid-July season.

3. Kayaking
We've kayaked here, so it seems this should be glacier oriented. Would like a multi-day trip, and either a base camp with local excursions or a boat-out and several day return. Liquid Adventures seems to run some well regarded trips to Holgate Arm and Aialik glacier, or maybe Anadyr or Pangea out of Valdez to the Shoup or Columbia glaciers.

4. Canoeing
Debating something like the Savonoski loop(this would be as long as I'd want to go), since it comes with the added attraction of starting and ending around the Brooks Lodge bear area (IIUC), or a 2-3 day river wilderness trip perhaps in the Eagle/Dawson area(Eagle Canoe Rentals?), or the Delta River(Paxson Tours?). Any great trips/outfitters you keep coming back to?

5. Fly-in hike-out or fly-in/fly-out backpacking
I understand there are several companies out of Talkeetna and also out of McCarthy that offer trips like this. Any 3-5 days trips here that you've done, and would do again? A cross glacier trek would seem pretty cool, and uniquely AK.

Other possibilities

6. Childs glacier. Sitting for a day and watching the Childs glacier seems like a must-do.

7. Mountain bike the Resurrection Pass trail.
Seems like it would be cool overnight trip, but likely can't manage the logistics unless another inmate also happened to be interested in doing it...

8. Buying tires and having them mounted at AK Leather.
.. yeah, just had to throw this one in... looking fwd to meeting the folks there. Definitely going to set this up.

We're very open for suggestions and feedback at this point - we've got a month to spend there, and are looking to maximize the adventure!

Cheers,
nD and son
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:08 PM   #2
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WOW, impressive list! I don't think you really need any suggestions because everything on it is great!

If completed, you will have done more than most Alaskans, myself included, will ever do in their lifetime!

I'm too cheap to do any fly-in trips or boat charters. Yes, I ride a KLR. I'm also contented to just drive up to the shore and launch. If you go out of Seward, IMO these guys are top notch: http://www.kayakak.com/

Cool you want to ice climb. Maybe choose where depending on the weather tho the ice will be much richer blue in overcast weather. I think ice-climbing is also offered at Matanuska Glacier about 80mi north of Anchorage.

Will you be in Dawson City Yukon for D2D? If so, I'll see you there. Otherwise, stop in and say hello at the Anchorage REI where I'll be selling paddling gear for the summer, camping and climbing gear in the winter.

Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:47 PM   #3
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I would suggest ice climbing out of McCarthy then fly out to Paul klaus lodge it's called ultimatoole (not sure that's spelled correctly) from there cruise over to Denali park for some white water river rafting. Ak duc is a kayaker but I know there is a guide service that works in the valley between anchorage and Seward. Dust2dawson is a must do on your way up. Also check with alpine haus in Fairbanks about ice climbing. Sounds like you guys will be exhausted when you get back to colorado.
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:19 AM   #4
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As stated, you guys seem to have quite a list already in place. Sounds FUN for sure. IF you are near the Palmer/Wasilla area, Hatcher Pass has quite a bit of hiking and the like to do. AND you can ride across from the Palmer side to the Willow side and see a BUNCH of side trails to hike or explore! Also riding across the Denali Highway: Paxson to Cantwell will provide some scenery as well as hiking or exploring opportunities along the way. IF you are in the Palmer area and need a place to do some wrenching or laundry give me a shout
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:57 AM   #5
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I would do some inquires about booking the Chilkoot trail, people book that a year ahead of time and I would be very surprised if you could just arrive and go the next day. I don't see you coming to Dawson City and then going over the Top of the World and visiting Susan in Chicken. Now that, would be an error!
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:56 AM   #6
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Wow - congratulations to your son for doing the CO trail! There are parts of that trail I would love to backpack someday.

Mountain biking the Resurrection Pass trail would be fun, but logistics are difficult to work out unless you know a lot of people up here and can work out car shuttles with them. You could check out the Arctic Bicycle Club's Website as they may have a place where you can post a message asking if anybody's doing the ride the same time you want to and you could do a vehicle switch.

I highly recommend riding the Lost Lake trail out of Seward. It's 16 miles through some amazing scenery and you can camp out at Lost Lake and do some peak bagging. You can rent bikes in Seward and probably find a shuttle van to get you to the northern end of the trail. You can ride back in to Seward from the end of the trail.

Another incredible bike trail is the Russian River trail, on the Kenai Peninsula with a trailhead near Cooper Landing. I can't remember how long it is but we did it in less than a day. The trail ends at the Russian River parking lot and you could probably hitch-hike back to your vehicle. Again, logistics for this ride are a little challenging without two vehicles. But I think this ride is even more spectacular than the Resurrection Pass trail. Another option for the Resurrection Pass trail is to park your vehicle at Cooper Landing and head up to Devil's Pass, take the Devil's Pass trail down to the Seward Hwy and then ride your bike all the way back to Cooper Landing (or try to hitch a ride).

If you're in the Seward area, another amazing hike starts at the base of Exit Glacier and goes up to the Harding Ice Fields. A great peak to hike up out of Seward is Mt. Alice. There are fewer people on this trail.

Sounds like you're going to have a phenomenal trip with lots of fun activities besides just riding! If you ride on the Denali Highway, there are lots of hiking opportunities there, for sure.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives24164634
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~&~~~~~~~~~~ lots ~~~~~~~~ of ~~~~
~~~~~~ stuff!~~~~~~~~but~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~also~~~~~~~~~ and ~~~~~~~~maybe~~~~~~~~~~ more ~~~~~~~~~
~~stuff!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ & that too!
You just get your nose back to that grindstone, young lady!

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Old 05-14-2014, 03:56 PM   #8
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Hay duchess has some great ideas, she is an avid mountain biker/adventurer so she speaks from experience.

Something I am surprised that no-one has mentioned is the crow creek pass trail. start in girdwood, end in eagle river. stage a bike at one place, might be a bit of an issue if you pack heavy. I have hiked it in two days and three days. Theres some hardcore folks that do it in one. I prefer three days, so you are not in a rush to do anything or be anywhere. You also might want to check out the Denali Highway, Valdez, and Kennicot mine.

I have been wanting to visit Manley Hot springs, I think that would be a fun run. Other than that, I think you have already done some impressive research and have great plans!
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Old 05-14-2014, 08:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
You just get your nose back to that grindstone, young lady!

Hey you crotchety old curmudgeon. There you go again,
Don't you have something worthwhile to do, like ironing out some wrinkles? I'll let you decide if I'm referring to your shirts or your.... face.














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Old 05-14-2014, 08:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by AlaskanMudder View Post
Hay duchess has some great ideas, she is an avid mountain biker/adventurer so she speaks from experience.
Thanks for the compliment! You’re absolutely right about the Crow Pass crossing trail being a first-class hike to do through spectacular scenery. I was just responding to the OP’s comments on locations he had picked to visit. On the Crow Pass trail (starts in Girdwood – outside of Anchorage) you can see glaciers, cross a snowfield or two, do lots of peak bagging and either hike the whole 26 miles OR carry a lightweight pack raft and float most of the way out down Eagle River. (You HAVE to get out of the river before Echo Bend unless you’re an expert rafter as the rapids section is very intense with huge boulders.)

The OP also mentioned canoe/float trips. Well, if he rents a pack raft in Anchorage there are some fun hike/raft trips close to town, including Crow Pass and Eagle River; Spencer Glacier (ride the trail to the glacier and float out Placer River); and the incredible Upper Winner Creek to 20-Mile River hike/pack raft trip. The trail for this starts at the Alyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood, goes up to Berry Pass (about 7 miles), and drops down the other side to a creek that feeds into the 20-Mile River. Warning: the creek can be very challenging depending on the water level and your skills.

The OP also mentioned fly-in trips. Well… if he wants to save some money, he could spend some time in the Talkeetna Mountains, affectionately known as the “Poor Man’s Brooks Range.” There are multiple options, but a very handy and awesome trip to do is the Bomber Traverse in the Hatcher Pass area, a few miles outside of Wasilla. You can park at the Archangel trailhead and spend three or more delightful days hiking through stunning scenery with icy lakes reflecting the tall peaks, crossing glaciers and climbing up, and then down, steep mountain passes with lots of scree and boulder fields. You can either end your trip at the same trailhead or end up at one a few miles down the road and hitchhike or walk back to your vehicles. A friend and I did the Bomber Traverse in 2009 and below is a link to some photos of our amazing adventure. We spent four days in total bliss, enjoying a challenging backpack trip, crossing the Snowbird and Bomber glaciers and dropping down into the Upper Reed lake. I didn’t get many photos of our hike out from the lake, but we were kind of tired. There is a crashed WWII on Bomber glacier that you can go check out.

http://s974.photobucket.com/user/koktoya/library/Bomber%20Traverse%202009

Here is a photo of Upper Reed Lake. The pass you climb up and over to get to Bomber Glacier is center left.





Here is a photo of Lower Reed Lake.





You can explore this amazing area without having to pay for an expensive plane ticket!
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:35 AM   #11
Tom S
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Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives View Post
Hey you crotchety old curmudgeon. There you go again,
Don't you have something worthwhile to do, like ironing out some wrinkles? I'll let you decide if I'm referring to your shirts or your.... face.


Hey!
WTF? You been overdosing on that Geritol again, granny?
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:51 PM   #12
napDaddy OP
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Wow, thanks for the references, everyone. So much to do, so many possibilities - it's hard to choose, but that's a good problem to have...

@J&K: Re the Chilkoot trail, what I think I've learned is that they pre-sell 42 slots a day through their reservation system, and the remaining 8 slots each day to walk-ins. The Parks Canada webpage offers that it's only a day or two wait for the 8 daily spots. Still, tomorrow reservations open again, and I'm going to try to book a mid-July slot so that in mid-June on the way up we can hit...

...D2D - just as soon as my uber-introverted self gets over committing to being somewhere that 150 other people have already said they were going to be. But hey, what motorcyclists won't do for a yet another sticker...

@AKDuc - thanks for the kayakak referral. I'll check them out. Some sort of water camping trip has to make the final cut...

And @HDL and AlaskanMudder - thanks for the biking and backpack references. That picture of Upper Reed Lake is pretty compelling! I was planning on checking out Talkeetna, and now it looks like we'll have to plan some backpacking around there. Funny thing - of all the reading and planning I've done, it never occured to me to stage one of our bikes at a trailhead. Funny the things you can miss!

Less than 3 weeks to go before launch for us. My son is out tonight in the mountains of southern Wyoming on a shakedown trip - his first overnighter with luggage and camping gear. I hope it makes him even more excited to go!

Thanks again, all - hoping to meet some of you at D2D in another month.

-nD
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