Another absolutely stellar day in South Central Alaska. ( Read more... )
In July I spent a week floating the Talachulitna River in Western Cook Inlet with my father-in-law, Alain. We took our time and enjoyed the fishing - spending around 10 hours a day on the water and fishing continuously for trout, dollies, grayling and kings.
We saw Belted Kingfishers, Rusty Blackbirds, Bonaparte's Gull as well as all the usual suspects like Golden Crown Sparrows, Juncos, Chickadees, Gray Jays and Stellar Jays. We saw lots of moose - but only one bear; a young brown bear that on the second day wandered into our fishing hole and stood his ground as we yelled, screamed and held our bear spray at the ready. Thankfully he wandered off without incident but it was enough to make us hyper-bear-aware for the remainder of the trip.
The river had it all: A fun narrow log chocked creek at the start where we were forced to drag, push and pull our raft. 20 miles of flat water teaming with rolling kings, fat rainbows and hungry grayling. A beautiful Class IV rapid, "Hell's Gate" that I opted to portage after an hour of internal debate. Below Hell's Gate there is a 15 mile canyon with Class III drops into deep dark pools, all capped by a slow float to the mouth through deep green pools teaming with kings. ( Read more... )
Pix from a day at Hatcher on two stellar routes. ( Read more... )
Nights like this are why we all love this place we call home. ( Read more... )
We awoke to sun on Saturday so we took a welcomed break from bathroom remodeling and headed up Rabbit Creek for a jaunt up North Suicide. Up the valley, a nice long break at Rabbit Lake so the dog could swim and then up the NW gully to the ridge. On the ridgeline we had one spot of D0 (the dog equivalent of A0) followed by a casual ridgeline to the summit. Back down with spotters for the D0 section, down the long chossy NW gully and then back to the lake for more dog swimming and home at a decent hour. ( Read more... )
A short lived Foraker attempt and a foul weather trip up to 17 camp on the West Buttress. (Next year I'm going sport climbing.) ( Read more... )
An afternoon on the West Ridge of Pinnacle. ( Read more... )
This past weekend I was encouraged by the high numbers of bikers and hikers heading down the trail at Chitina. Perhaps a third of the users were hikers and bikers… and while ATV users still rule, the growth of bikers over the past five years is a trend that I’d like to see continue. And so while I am conflicted on giving away techniques on how to successfully fill your freezer from a bike the truth is the ATV crowd has no qualms giving away tips so I might as well contribute my $.02.
Let me first say that if there was ever a place for ATV usage then it’s the O'Brien Creek road. If there were ever a need for ATV usage then it would be to carry coolers full of fish back to your truck. And if there were ever a demographic where ATV usage was justified it would be for the elder users who cannot make it back to the fishing spots utilizing a bike or hiking. Furthermore - the majority of the ATV users you meet on the trail and friendly and respect the fishery and the river.
That said - the majority of the ATV crowd are men in their mid 30s and early 40s who are just too lazy to walk back and forth with their fish. I can’t really say I blame them for not wanting to carry 200 lbs of fish out on their backs - but with the lazy users come a small but impactful population of users who routinely leave trash, shit wherever they please, build huge campfires and chop down trees on a whim. And within the ATV demographic there is always a small group of 20-something drivers who hate hikers and bikers and will make it known to you that you’re not welcome by driving fast and running you off the trail.
Thus this post is all about encouraging bikers and hikers to head into Chitina. With more bikers and hikers on the Chitina trail, ATV users will be forced to drive a little slower and deal with a user group that doesn’t fall into the "drive fast and kill ‘em all" AK lifestyle. Hopefully with increased non-motorized usage the dipnetting experience will revert to respecting the river and working hard to harvest your fish - and less about driving fast, shooting guns and drinking beer.
And with that said on to how to dipnet with a bike… Everyone has their own method - some of those methods work, some don’t. Here's my take... ( Read more... )
[ Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse ]
We just spent 16 days in the Alaska Range - 13 of those days were on Denali's West Buttress - and during that time period there were a total of 4 deaths. The day after we flew out 2 more deaths occurred at high camp. (Click here to read Mike Campbell's article profiling the accidents.)
The rash of deaths after a long quiet winter can only mean one thing: It’s climbing season in the Alaska Range. Unfortunately "climbing season" also means "rescue season" and this year is off to a bad start. And with rescue season comes the inevitable "who’s going to pay for this" argument on countless blogs, op-ed pages and comment sections nation-wide. Given our current political climate where tea party members happily gloat about gutting public programs while patriotically adding funds to our bloated defense budget I think it’s pertinent that I post some links to rescue studies. ( Read more... )