Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kanuti Picture Project

Updated 8.12.2014 - As part of my job I conduct stream gauging at the Kanuti National Wildlife Preserve. At 1.64 million acres Kanuti is roughly the size of the state of Delaware; it provides crucial habitat for bird, mammal, and fish species. Kanuti has no designated trails, campsites, or public use cabins within its boundaries. Its huge and untouched; places like this are why we live here.

If there is enough light to work and enough water to measure, we come to Kanuti nearly every month. Like last summer's Prince William Sound Picture Project, I'll update this post occasionally with unique and memorable moments that stand out.

Due to a lucky tailwind, our flight back to Anchorage was early. So, we had time to do a figure 8 around Denali and Foraker. Foraker, below, is the third highest peak in the United States.
133.94 dollars/14.965 gallons = 8.95 dollars per gallon.

Braided rivers require the combination of erodible banks and a threshold sediment load or channel slope. Over this threshold of sediment, braided streams are created, below it meandering streams form.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Twenty Mile - 7.4.2014

Over the last month the weather has been so wonderful that everything other than spending every possible second outside has dropped completely off the horizon. Climbing, biking, packrafting, backpacking, running, hiking, kayaking, zooming around in helicopters, fishing, late nights processing fish. Its been great. I keep thinking it will start raining, it hasn't. Lots of adventures to catch up on.

Back in early July I had just returned from an exhausting and quite trying week of field work in Kanuti. Alex and Co. were headed out to Blackstone for the weekend (which sounded incredible), but I just couldn't drag myself off the couch to pack.

I decided to start the long weekend with the 20 Mile packraft. 20 Mile is one of those iconic Southcentral adventures. People were already telling me I needed to do it the day I moved to Anchorage.

Per usual, I slept in, then wandered around my house spacing out, before eventually deciding to get moving. By 1 PM I'd stashed a bike at Portage, driven to Alyeska, and was hiking up the Winner Creek Trail.

The trail slowly gained elevation as it climbed through the temperate rainforest of the Girdwood Valley.

The mountains starting to come into view above Winner Creek.

A bit higher, looking back towards the other north face of Alyeska. Easy to picture a heaven of rad spine lines up there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Crow Pass - 6.22.2014

Whit and Kelly are always coming up with great adventure ideas, but for whatever reason I keep getting thwarted on joining them. So, when they suggested a Crow Pass backpack, I couldn't wait to join. The weather wasn't perfect, so a weekend backpack ended up being a wonderful 35 km day hike.

Looking back down towards the Crow Pass trailhead, fun ski terrain back there.

A couple cool water falls just before the turn to the Jewel Glacier.
Photo: Kelly Bergkessel

Just past the turn off to the Jewel; one happy, soon to be very sore old pup.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Carpathian - 3.29.2014

Author's Note: This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for 14erskiers.com.

Carpathian, the name is filled with intensity and intrigue, but where does it come from? Does it come from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, perhaps the mythical super humans that inhabit them, or maybe an Indo-European root word for rock? No one seems to know. Regardless, the mysterious power of the name embodies the mountain. Storms pouring into Turnagain Arm from the Prince William Sound pound the Kenai Peninsula’s tallest mountain with precipitation – rain, snow, ice. The extreme weather and the seracs, avalanches, and glacier hazards that come with it mean that it often takes two, three, even four attempts to get up and down Carpathian.

Back in late March, Malcolm and I decided to check it out. Due to my usual early morning grogginess, the day started out as a bit of a circus. I forgot the appropriate allen key to adjust my crampons for my new boots, and my camera was definitely missing its SD card. But, after a refueling stop for power rings (donuts), we were on our way across Portage Lake. Due to its proximity to the coast, the lake is often a nightmare – a wind tunnel of ice fog and ground blizzards. We got lucky, finding calm wind and fast, firm snow.

Three miles later, our faces covered in a fresh layer of rime, we were across the lake and at the base of the Portage Glacier:

Following the advice of a friend, we continued past the toe of the glacier, then climbed one of the lateral moraines which brought us past the terminal ice fall. As we moved up the Portage more glaciers came spilling down towards us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Palmer Creek - 5.24.2014

Palmer Creek is one of those zones that is on everyone's hit list. Early season, mid-season sled access, summer skiing - it has it all. There are challenges though. Early season you're fighting alders. Mid-season the 20 mile sled approach shuts most people down. Late season the approach requires a bike; except for Alex  who runs faster than I bike. Then there's the fact that driving from Anchorage to Hope means your passing countless other epic zones.

But, after skiing a line lower in the valley the previous weekend I was excited to get back. We drove down to Hope the night before, planning to catch some tunes and hit the hay early. No one goes to bed early on a summer Friday night in Hope.

Despite an unplanned late evening we were soon on our bikes inhaling the heavy smoke from the Kenai fire.

An hour on the bikes, a short bushwhack, and one stream crossing later and we were on snow. Almost too easy. Perhaps not quite as warm as Neil was making it look, I was wearing a jacket at this point.

Some cute little old man turns lower down the valley: