Monday, September 12, 2011

Castner Glacier Hike

Thanks to the Yukon Flats School District bringing us into town for an inservice- we were able to take off for the weekend on a hike.  So Saturday morning we raced down the Richardson Highway with the Fall colors in full bloom and sprinkling rain showers.  Our destination, the Delta Mountains of the Eastern Alaska Range.  This is an area I really haven't explored at all, except from the drivers seat racing down the highway at 70mph coming or going between Anchorage and Fairbanks...

The Castner Glacier is easily accessible from the highway just South of the Black Rapids camp.  Within a mile of the truck we were upon this expansive chunk of ice nearly totally covered in rock, scree, mud, and a mix of tundra like vegetation.  

Enjoy the video!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Anniversary Hike

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!  And for us, Happy 6th Anniversary.  We celebrated the occasion with another great hike from the village.  I have never lived so close to the backcountry before.  It's amazing to literally walk out your back door and into the woods.  There are no cars, no parking lots, no entrance fees, and most importantly, no holiday weekend crowds.

This trip originally began as a traverse of the Phillip Smith Mountains, summiting Misty Mountain and ending up in the Junjik  River valley.  After a late start Saturday morning and limited capacity for two people in one packraft, plans changed.  I was inspired by Roman Dials trips with his wife sharing a packraft together.  After two minutes in our boat we quickly realized Roman and his wife must be a tad shorter then us...  The hike would have been about 30 miles hiking across one pass and 45 miles floating two rivers.  Upon reaching the far shore of the Chandalar River we quickly set our sights upon the craggy Under Cloud Mountain.  This peak has tempted me for the last year.  A spectacular rocky spine runs all the way up to the summit from the valley floor.  There are several approachable routes from the South and West via steep tundra slopes.  As we climbed the rain gradually turned to mist, eventually clearing for an awesome view of the Chandalar Valley from the summit.  We followed another ridge due West for at least another two miles before dropping into an adjacent valley for the night.  After sliding down a heinous scree chute we wound up in a peaceful meadow camp site.  We quickly pitched our tent and retreated from the rain.  Sunday morning greeted us with thick cloud cover, so we made the decision not to attempt any more nearby peaks, and began the slog back to the village.

In total we hiked 13 miles Saturday, and 10 miles Sunday.  On Saturday we traveled about 3/4 of a mile in the packraft, "ferrying" across the river.  Then Sunday we traveled almost 2.5 miles in the packraft, launching from up river of the village.

Check out the video of our adventure.