Sunrise over Regal Mountain, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

November 28th, 2007 by Carl D

Sunrise over Regal Mountain, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Recently someone asked me about some photography tips, and I thought that might make a good post for a blog. There’s obviously way too much stuff to talk about in one post, so I’ll just make this one specific to shooting landscapes on backpacking trips. Hopefully this will help you bring home some better images from your trips. The image I’ve posted here is of Regal Mountain, a 13 845′ high shield volcano, or stratovolcano, in the Wrangell Mountains, seen from Skolai Pass, Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Regal Mountain is most commonly seen from the west, from the Root Glacier near McCarthy. Because the mountain is so covered with glaciers, it’s hardly been studied at all by geologists. It’s a WAY cool mountain!

First thing is suck it up and bring your tripod. Even a little lightweight tripod is WAY better than no tripod at all. These days you can buy an ultralight tripod that’ll really help you out. Like everything else, it seems, you pay more dollars for every ounce you lose. Continue reading…

Down Versus Synthetic Bags – what to choose?

November 26th, 2007 by Carl D

Star Trails over McCarthy, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks

I get asked all the time which kind insulation fill is best for a sleeping bag for someone planing an Alaska backpacking trip. Like almost all these kinds of questions (such as what size backpack you need), the answer is pretty subjective,  and I really don’t think it matters too much. What matters is that you make the decision that best fits your particular set of circumstances. That said, here are a few notes that may help you in your decision-making. I own both down and synthetic bags, and I honestly don’t find the type of fill to be the deciding factor in how I like a bag. Continue reading…

Sleeping bags and Sleeping Pads

November 23rd, 2007 by Carl D

Fall Colors, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Hey Folks,

I think a 20deg bag is essential for a summer trip in Alaska. 32deg bags, and warmer, often aren’t warm enough for alpine trips here. In fact, a 15 deg bag is even a good idea. it varies a lot with the individual, and also with the temperatures for any given trip, obviously. Temperatures can easily dip into the 32deg range, even in mid-summer, and while this isn’t too often, it’s not uncommon. If you’re planning a trip with for the shoulder season, such as late Aug/early Sept, even a 10deg bag isn’t overkill. Continue reading…

Backpacks – What do I need?

November 23rd, 2007 by Carl D

Mt Churchill and Mt Bona, Russell Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks

Backpacks are, of course, an integral piece of gear for a backpacking trip. What kind of backpack works best for you is not for me to say (see, for example, this post about what size backpack you need), but I can give you some information that might help you.

I like internal frame backpacks. I think they carry better than external frames, particularly for off-trail hiking such as the Southern Traverse. A well-fitted internal frame pack will ride on your back closer, with less movement, and also allow you to walk in a more upright position, as the packweight, being closer to your back, doesn’t need to be offset by you leaning forward. On the other hand, one of my best friends hikes with an external frame backpack, and he loves them. Chocolate and strawberry, I suppose. Continue reading…

Backpacking off-trail, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska

November 7th, 2007 by Carl D

Backpacking near the Copper River, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks

I’ll talk here briefly about one of the issues people seem to have backpacking in Alaska. Sure, trips can be strenuous and hard in terms of endurance and cardiovascular fitness, but a more common issue for people is hiking over uneven terrain. For those folks who are used to backpacking and hiking on trails, such as in the Lower 48, the trailess mountains of Alaska pose a new challenge. One of the things some people struggle with is hiking over a moraine, or a talus slope, like this one here. A moraine is a glacial formed pile of rocks. Sometimes, that pile might be huge, miles across. Sometimes it’s much smaller. A talus slope, such as this one overlooking the Bremner River near where it joins up with the Copper River in the Chugach Mountains, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, is usually formed by a rock slide. Talus and scree are actually the same thing, but talus usually is used to refer to larger rocks, and scree smaller stones. They’re often unstable, because Continue reading…

Sunset over the Bremner River Valley, Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

November 4th, 2007 by Carl D

A backpacker watching the sunset over the Bremner River Valley in the Chugach Mountains, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Tebay – to Bremner Trip, Part Deux

Hey Folks

Here’s another image from our jaunt around the Tebay Lakes area.

This is one of the few photos you’ll see posted here with me in them. To allay your concerns, no, I wasn’t fixin’ to jump. I was simply enjoying the sunset. This is from our second night on the trip. Camped right by this cliff, looking south towards the Bremner River, or west towards a Glacier. Definitely one of the all-time coolest campsites. We even had a mountain goat come wandering down towards our camp at dinner. I, of course, was unprepared, and way too slow, and so got no pictures of the mountain goat. Continue reading…

Wildflowers at Dawn, Bremner to Tebay Lakes Trip, Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

November 3rd, 2007 by Carl D

Wildflowers in bloom in the Chugach Mountains, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey folks,

I think I’m going to upload some photos and stories on this blog this fall/winter, instead of doing the usual slideshow for the year. Hopefully it’ll be a little more interesting.

This photo was taken on the Tebay Lakes trp we did this year, with Sergei and Mark. What an awesome time that was! The flight from McCarthy to the Tebay Lakes landing strip is along one, nearly 45 minutes. We took off from McCarthy in gloomy drizzly weather, and I know Sergei was a little anxious about that. he came out the previous year on a trip from Skolai to Wolverine and got absolutely nailed for 10 days with this kind of weather. The look on his face was ‘oh no, not again’!!! Continue reading…

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2 backpacking tent

November 1st, 2007 by Carl D

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2 backpacking tent.

Hey Folks,

Welcome to the beginning of a lot of chatter about backpacking gear. The first thread is about tents. Specifically, MY tent, the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2. I can’t recommend this tent highly enough.

1 – it’s reasonably light. Any 2 person tent that comes to close to 4lbs is light, IMO.
2 – it’s super-easy to set up and take down. Ridiculously easy. Continue reading…

Hello world!

October 31st, 2007 by Carl D

Hey Folks

Well, here it is. I’ve started yet ANOTHER blog – the world should be so lucky!

I just want to say first off, “G’day, and welcome”. I aim to keep this set of discussions somewhat entertaining, and informative. I’ll try to post on all things backpacking related, such as gear, trip reports, ideas and plans for trips, maybe do some accommodation places in Anchorage, and stuff like that. Useful stuff for anyone planning a trip to Alaska, as well as backpacking in general. I might even get a little adventurous and open it up to other outdoor adventures as well along the way. And, of course, you’re all invited to post away, and add your comments.

Here’s to the great outdoors!



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