Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arctic Valley -> Glen Alps Traverse - 8.9.2014

Vitals:
Kilometers Hiked: 48
Vertical Meters Gained: 2,600
Departed Home: 6:30 AM
Returned Home: 12:00 AM

For a while Malcolm and Haley have been talking about an adventure in the Chugach Front Range. I'd been doing my best to steer clear of it. But in the end, a combination of factors conspired to suck me in.
Early morning in the Chugach; Korohusk on the left, a glaciated Chugach giant just barely visible center right.

It all started on my birthday, when, in an effort to feel young I decided to do a flip off the the slack line. A few minutes later Haley had a severely sprained ankle. If not for that sprained ankle they would have been blissfully bushwhacking while I blissfully spent the day in my office bouncing on my exercise ball.
Following the ridge East from Arctic Valley. Lots of vertical to be gained and lost there. Lots of blueberries too.

Then there was the next time the idea came up. Owen and I were sitting in the parking lot at Kincaid, my fork had just been "serviced", meaning the shop had successfully removed all the seals without replacing them.
Farther along the ridge, looking back at Hiland Road.



When Haley and Malcolm rolled into the parking lot and mentioned a long adventure, I immediately agreed without listening to any of the details. Possibly because I was nervously watching a long stream of pee slowly snaking towards Haley's feet...

Eagle and Polar Bear Peaks, still on the Wish List.

At 5:45 AM Malcolm called to let me know they would be running late and we'd meet at Freddy's at 6:30. I took this as an opportunity to be even later, getting out of bed around then.
Leaving the ridge and heading towards Ship Creek.

But, before long, we were on the road towards Arctic Valley. In my morning haze I assumed that our one car must mean we an out and back hike to where we started.

Back into blueberry (and beary) country. Indian Pass and the turn towards Glen Alps visible on the horizon.

Eventually we left the great views and interval workout that is the ridge separating Hiland Road from Ship Creek. It was around this point that I slowly realized that we would not be returning to where we started. Malcolm approaching 10 km of bushwhacking.


As we quickly learned, steep hillsides make fast somersaulting conditions. Treacherously fast.


I had never considered walking on top of alders to be a viable option, but it is if you can just get on top of them. Malcolm calls this something like "canopy walking". Haley opting for walking on the ground.


Down on the valley floor, but still above the water table. A few minutes later, crossing the first stream, Haley and Malcolm didn't bother taking off their shoes. Before long it became apparent why, we'd be spending the next couple hours walking through water.


The North Ship Creek drainage. Haley told us about an awesome backpack that heads up that way before looping back around towards Indian Pass.


"Guys, I found the winter trail!" I think we saw a total of three trail markers. O well...

Trying out the bench above the creek, equally dense. I think that it was around this point that Haley noted that I got very quiet. A wonderful adventure, but I was over bushwhacking.


Clearing up! The ridge we followed earlier in the day is visible at the back of the valley.


From swamp to krumholtz, which are better for crawling under.


Freedom!


The two troublemakers just visible through a field of flowers. The turn to Ship Lake is ahead on the right.


Out of the bushes and headed towards Ship Lake; Malcolm probably thinking its too easy.


What a view! Looking back toward the Ship Creek Valley. Indian Pass is to the right.


The classic U-shaped evidence of a valley glacier!!!


The view from Ship Lake: the Thin White Line is just peaking out, its so incised, I can't wait to ski it. Also, a very cool rock slide just to the left.


Such a neat and smooth shear failure plane!


After a quick swim by the troublemakers, we started the last climb up Ship Pass. Out of food, I ate blueberries as I went, although I doubt this provided much fuel. Malcolm, the Powerline Pass Valley, the Cook Inlet, and, most importantly, the Glen Alps trailhead in the distance. Victory!


The final descent was a breeze as we passed some of our favorite Front Range hangouts and memories like the Wedge and Ptarmigan. Cool moss near the Wedge:


Arriving at the Glen Alps trailhead, a phone call by Haley brought a van complete with champagne! What an adventure! Beautiful, serene, and memorable. Thanks for bringing me guys!