In the summer of 2001 Brad Hornung and I traveled and climbed for 2 months in Alaska and Canada. After freezing in Alaska and scaring our wits out in Canada we opted to head south to the Tetons to climb warm alpine rock. Along the way we picked up Brad's sister, Christina, in Calgary and then headed south to Jackson where we met up with my brother John and his oldest son, Matthew, who was 13 at the time. ( Read more... )
My nephew, Matthew, and brother John, came to visit me for Matt's spring break. I'm not sure if they expected balmy spring like temperatures or not - but they certainly didn't get them. Temps hovered in the teens on the good days; on the bad days it was around -20 with 50 mph winds!
We spent 8 days skiing down on the Kenai Peninsula; 4 days at Turnagain Pass and 4 days up at Crescent Lake where we stayed at Crescent Saddle cabin. This was John and Mat's first winter visit to Alaska and their first ever backcountry ski trip.
I acted as ski guide for the entire trip and I have never worked so hard in my life... My brother and nephew learned fairly quickly; but I still had to literally battle with them to do key things like drink, eat, ski where I tell them to and not push themselves beyond their limits as well as seemingly stupid things like always wear liner gloves when it's -25 and not to lay down in the snow when tired. ( Read more... )
The forecast for Virginia during Christmas week called for clear sunny skies with highs in the 50 and 60s so I emailed my brothers and made plans to haul my boats down when I visited for Christmas. John drove down from Philly with three boats and wet suits, I showed up with 2 packrafts and one dry-suit and Charlie, ever the procrastinator, showed up with nothing.
We spent Christmas day and the day after with family eating, running around the farm with the kids and going for hikes at Sugar Hollow. Come Wednesday night my oldest brother John, my youngest brother Charlie and two of John's sons - Matthew (20 and fresh out of boot-camp) and JC a 14-year old kid who discovered kayaking this summer and has perfected his roll and is tackling Class IV rivers - sat around discussing our options and checking flows and forecast. Charlie was a bit apprehensive. He had some long johns and a rain jacket but didn't want to sit in the river knowing that it would be cold should he take a swim. However Charlie is someone you can always cajole into doing something stupid be it tackle 250 lb calves, ski in June, or boat in December; so it took little prodding to get him to agree to join us.
We made plans to get up early and drive to Lynchburg to run Balcony Falls on the James River. River levels were low - around 3 feet - but it was the only river with rapids running within a few hours drive and the forecast was calling for temps in the 50s. ( Read more... )
Pix from a Christmas hike in Shenandoah National Park. ( Read more... )
Summer in Alaska is for family visitors. Some years no one shows up… Other years they show up in mass – a week here, a week there. Sometimes 2 weeks. Sometimes 3 weeks… sometimes more. Not that I’m complaining… when family visits it’s a chance to show them how you live. And how you live might mean a long rafting trip in torrential rain, a lazy day floating the Kenai without any sign of fish or a brutal slog through dense brush in the middle of Chugach State Park. And even if that summer visitor isn’t ready for what you’re about to give them (like endless fishing in torrential rains) – it really doesn’t matter. We’ve got all of 3 months to pack in a summer (even if that summer is 35 degrees and raining) and the summer visitor is along for the ride whether they like it or not!
So when my brother Charlie and his wife, Liz, showed up we automatically piled them back into the truck and forced them to drive 5 hours north towards the eastern Alaskan Range where we spent 5 days fishing and floating the Gulkana River. ( Read more... )
Swimming big water is kind of like falling. If you don't anticipate the moment it's not so bad. One second you're tipping (death grip on the paddle), the next second you're gulping, the third second you remember to cup your mouth to keep the spray out. By the fifth second you’re struggling to figure out which way is upstream and which way is downstream. Then you’re out of the waves, bouncing downriver and you automatically start kicking to shore. ( Read more... )
There is nothing like an east coast fall. ( Read more... )
Photos and thoughts from a July 4th hike across Kesugi Ridge with dogs and children and giant backpacks. ( Read more... )
... Our route first climbed to Albino Lake where we set up our tents near the lakeshore. West of camp was an easy route up the south ridge of Lonesome Mountain (11,399') and we spent a layover day taking turns hiking up the south ridge for a great view of the high lakes region. We followed this up with a short move over a pass to Jasper Lake where we camped in-between Jasper and Golden lakes and scrambled up the south ridge of Spirit Mountain (12,283'). This in turn was followed by a long day across the high lakes plateau to a buggy camp at Renee Lake followed by a casual walk out a nice trail. The hiking was quite pleasant and the fishing was excellent... ( Read more... )
Photos and notes from a 5 day kid float down Meander Canyon - the mellow 51 mile stretch of the Colorado River from Potash to Spanish Bottom. ( Read more... )
This is a photo dump from a recent trip down Desolation and Gray Canyons on the Green River. 10 of us flew down from Anchorage and spent a week on the river. We had 6 adults and 4 kids ages 3-6. We crowded into 2 16' rafts and brought a packraft as an extra boat. We had perfect weather (7 days of 70 degree sun) and low flows (3000cfs) which meant the majority of the rapids were mere ripples (but also meant that travel was slow). It was the perfect October escape from Anchorage which can be dreary before the snow arrives. ( Read more... )