I thought I’d write a quick post about insulation for hiking. This year, I made the switch from a pile fleece jacket to a synthetic fill jacket. The jacket that I virtually lived in all backpacking season long, (on plenty of day hikes as well, including this walk up to Powerline Pass near Anchorage with Keba and Musa) was the Montbell Thermawrap. At under 9oz, it’s hard to beat for weight savings. It’s certainly MUCH lighter than any of my fleece jackets, and far more stuffable. Packed into its little stuff sack, it takes up no space in the backpack at all. And it’s insanely warm for something so tiny. It definitely is warmer than either my 200 weight or 300 weight polartec fleece jackets, and is also extremely windproof. Continue reading…
Well, the season has wound up tight, and I’m slowly getting back in to ‘office-mode‘ for the winter. I’ll try to write a ‘summer backpacking wrap’ before too long, with some notes from the various trips we had this year. In the meantime, I’d like to mention a trip I’m planning for next year, 2010, that I’m WAAAAYYYYY excited about. I’ll be leading a photo tour to Katmai National Park in the fall, after the backpacking season. We’ll basecamp in Katmai National Park for a week, and photograph grizzly bears, also known as ‘brown bears’ in that particular region, all day long. For those of you unfamiliar with Katmai National Park, the region is home to the greatest population density of grizzly bears anywhere, and also some of the largest bears in the world. Continue reading…
So summer’s almost here. I’m looking forward to some great trips this summer, and hopefully some good weather. The weather in Anchorage and across the state has been awesome this last month or so – sunny skies, warm days and clear nights. The trees are greening up fast, and the snow’s gone in the lower altitudes. It’s simply gorgeous here right now.
This photo is of Mt. Sanford, on the north side of Wrangell-St. Elias, from Gulkana, looking across the Copper River basin to the 16 237′ tall Mt. Sanford, as it catches the last rays of the day.
I hope this finds you all well and gearing up for a great summer. It seems like winter solstice has only just been and gone, and its already march. Spring’s right around the corner, and then summer will be underway! I’m enjoying the winter, but am ready for summer – warmer weather, sunshine, longer days, and flowers and green vegetation is always welcome! And, best of all, more backpacking!
One of the questions I receive most, especially this time of year, is how best to prepare for the coming backpacking season. The short answer is, it doesn’t matter – just do something – the fitter you are, the safer your trip is! However, I think a few specific things can help:
a) make it regular. Whatever your exercise regime, try hard to make it happen every day – not every second day, or 3 days a week Continue reading…
Just a quite note to say Happy New Year to all, and all the best to everyone for a great 2009. This photo was from my winter solstice hike in Wrangell St. Elias National Park. A great view of Mt. Blackburn across the Root and Kennecott Glaciers. Check out the calendar for the trips we’ve scheduled for 09, and drop us aline if you have any questions or want to see something not listed.
So, I’m back to the ‘photos from the past’ section. I’ll post a few more from my recent stay in the park, but wanted to post this, a favorite of mine, from Denali National Park a few years. This was probably one of the greatest days I ever had photographing. I hiked my tail off all morning after this bull moose – I was just finishing breakfast on what was to the be the last day of a 2 day stay in Denali Park, and I really wanted to get something worthwhile. The weather was pretty gnarly, but it was my last day, and I hadn’t much to show for 12 days of staying hunkered down in my little 1 person tent in wind, rain, sleet, snow and cold.
So here’s the reason why the bus that I thought would take me to the park entrance (see this post). I got on the bus and heard the driver talking about ‘wonder if the wolves would still be there’. Immediately perked up, leaned forward, and eavesdropped my a** off. Turns out a pack of wolves had killed a caribou bull not far off the road, and the whole pack had been feeding all morning whilst I was walking around the backcountry chasing some stupid moose. I finally start to get this story, thru the bits and pieces I could overhear, as the bus pulls into Eielson visitor Center for a scheduled stop. Now, I know the bus drivers have a schedule to keep, but if there’s a wolf pack feeding on a caribou carcass down the road, IMO schedules ought be abandoned. Apparently the bus driver didn’t think my opinion counted for much, and we had to sit in the Visitors Center for 45 minutes, in order that we departed at the ‘correct’ time. Then we had to stop again at the Toklat rest stop for another 20 minutes, and 15 more at Polychrome. So, sure enough, by the time we arrived, the wolves had vacated the carcass, and a grizzly bear sow and her 2 cubs were now in charge.
Someone told me summer’s been and gone already for 2008 here in Alaska. I missed it, somehow, apparently. What a crazy year it was, weather-wise. Thunderstorms and lightning in the arctic, rain and clouds, snow and clouds, sunshine, wind, cool weather, hot weather, a mixed bag for sure. What was super, super appreciated, was the great spirits everyone brought along on the trips this summer – I couldn’t be more appreciative, and the groups couldn’t have better. Thanks.
I’ll try to have a slideshow up the website with a little review of the summer trips, but I’m heading back over to Wrangell-St. Elias to photograph the remaining fall colors, and then come back to Anchorage early October to get website updates, etc, done. So look for a slideshow on the home page in October. Until then, thanks SO much to everyone who came out this year, for all the good times, the great company, and some killer hiking trips. Thank you.
This photo is me, staring in awe at Mt St. Elias, from Icy Bay, in mid-June. What a mountain!
I finally get a chance to catch up quickly here – it’s been one trip after another, and though the weather’s not been the best, the trips have all been a ton of fun. I’m heading out in a few days for another basecamp/photo trip, which should be great, and then the season is over – it’s gone WAY too quickly!
One of the highlights this year was our Bremner Mines to Tebay Lakes trip – the first ever commercial trip here, and one of the first groups of people to complete the route. We had an awesome group of experienced hikers, adventurous all, and we had a blast. The route was challenging at times, but enough long mellow stretches of easy hiking that we all enjoyed it. Continue reading…