Friday, December 9, 2016

Crow Pass to Glen Alps Backpack - July 2016

As the crow flies, the Glen Alps and Crow Pass trailheads are less than 20 miles apart. By car, that distance is more than doubled. So why not hike between them?

After setting up a shuttle at Glen Alps we headed for Girdwood and started hiking. Shortly after Crow Pass we left the trail and sidehilled towards the Clear Glacier drainage and Steamroller Pass.

Peter, Evan, and Becca with the Raven and Jewel Glaciers.

Once above the valley, we followed a game trail up the scree to the top Steamroller Pass.

Below us lay a paradise of peacefully grazing sheep and the Archangel Lakes. To avoid any harrowing downclimbs we descended along the right valley wall.

After crossing the Archangel Lakes valley we turned north towards Archangel Pass.

Peter nearing the top of Archangel Pass with Bird Peak in the background (on the skiing hit list for Alex and I).

From the pass we looked down towards Grizzly Bear Lake and Moraine Pass. With huge moraine lobes everywhere, Moraine Pass is aptly named.

Descending towards the valley floor was a combination of human bowling and fun scree skiing. We paused at Grizzly Bear Lake to empty our shoes and watch a territorial beaver.

With many miles ahead of us we kept going in the beautiful evening light.

Eventually sanity prevailed and we stopped to camp. The Anchorage backyard, not bad:

On Sunday, with Sheep grazing above us, we continued down Ship Creek. Near the turn to Bird Pass we started to sidehill to avoid the increasing valley vegetation.

More fun wildlife:

Six miles below Grizzly Bear Lake we turned south between the Wing and Bird's Eye Peak.

Reaching the top we could see past Bird's Eye Peak, down Bird Valley, and across to Penguin Ridge. We also noticed the new haze from a nearby wildfire.

Below us was another beautiful valley with an emerald tarn and a flock peaceful sheep.

We then traversed upwards and west towards the long ridge connecting the Wing and the Beak. Hidden in a small drainage we found another flock of sheep:

At the ridge we could the Chugach Front Range including Avalanche, Ptarmigan, the Wedge, the Ramp, and Williwaw:

Next, we dropped towards the west fork of Ship Creek. In the distance the smoke from the wildfire was increasing.

In the valley we continued west towards Ship Lake.

At Indian Pass we were back on a human trail for the first time since Crow Pass.

Past Ship Lake there was just one last climb up Ship Lake Pass before the 5 miles cruise down to the Glen Alps trailhead.
Andalyn with Ship Lake, Avalanche, and the Thin White Line.

At the trailhead, the adventure wasn't over yet. With the McHugh Fire next to the highway we inched  along the road as helicopters dunked buckets of water in Turnagain Arm, zipped over us, and dropped them on the fire. What a weekend!

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