Saturday, December 3, 2011

09/30-10/02/11 Caines Head Cabins


I try to plan trips to a public-use cabin a couple time a few times a year, and this year everyone wanted to go. There were eleven of us total! Enough people to rent two cabins. There aren't many places with two cabins near each other, but I thought the Derby Cove and Callisto Canyon Cabins would be close enough. That didn't turn out to be true. Oh, and it rained the whole time.

Access to the cabins is tidal, so those of us who hiked in had to get the the trailhead by 8pm to catch the low tide at 10. If we would have missed it we wouldn't have had any beach to walk on to get to the cabins. Cliffs rise above the beach limiting reasonable alternatives. Unfortunately the sun before we started hiking, so it was a hike in the dark. Again access can be difficult. Chris and I had been there before, so it wasn't a bad walk. Tonsina Creek (a necessary stream ford) was barely flowing, so we crossed it on a log.

 Shaun lighting the way.

 Chris crossing a log on Tonsina Creek.

The rest of the crew took a water taxi to the cabin, so they brought lots of cool stuff like beer, guitars, board games, and coolers. When the four of us arrived at Callisto Canyon Cabin we decided to stay at there the night and hang out with everyone. We may have been drinking. It was a bit cramped for 11 people, but we made it work. Chris even slept on the porch.

 Callisto Canyon Cabin

Since we rented two cabins Chris, Shaun, and I decided we should go visit the other one. One thing I didn't remember is that the route between cabins is tidal, so we had to time travel between them accordingly. We headed out a little after 11am to go to the Derby Cove Cabin. It only took 10 minutes to get there. I forgot my snack bag, so I had to go back again. The tide wasn't super low like the evening tide, so there wasn't a lot of wiggle room. A +3 tide during low pressure is marginal. We were hoping to check out Fort McGilvray that day, but the rain was pretty epic. Creeks were starting to pop out in new locations.

Heading to the Derby Cove Cabin.

Derby Cove Cabin

 Playing Settlers of Catan at the Callisto Canyon Cabin.

I wanted to head back to the other cabin at the next low tide around 11pm. The rain discouraged my cabin mates, so I headed back solo. The tide was low enough that I had at least 3 hours to walk over hang out and walk back. I stayed until my birthday song at midnight.


 ...And it rained...

The rain just kept coming down. The creek in front of the cabin was a 5 foot mellow stream when we arrived the day prior. The amount of water flowing was now incredible. The access trail to the beach was knee-deep in places. Water from the lagoon was also flowing out of the shale on the beach.

 Water exiting the lagoon.

 Derby Cove Cabin

The morning of our departure Chris, Shaun, and I were contemplating taking the water taxi back. The tide was a +3, and it was storming pretty hard. We weren't sure if we could get around the headlands safely. We ended up walking to the Callisto Canyon Cabin, but just barely. We walked through the surf in a couple places to get around some slimy rocks. We also had to ford a swift creek that had appeared within the last day. We were a little worried that Tonsina Creek would be swollen or impassable, so we chose the water-taxi option. After wind delays for a few hours we finally were able to board and float back to Lowell Point.

Friday, December 2, 2011

11/25-27/11 Cresent Saddle MCA Trip

This was the first MCA trip I went on. Greg set it up, and it was a great early winter trip in Chugach National Forest. The seven of us skied from the Carter Lake Trailhead to the Crescent Saddle Cabin and did some ski-touring and backcountry skiing. We all pitched in for Thanksgiving 2 on the Friday after the holiday.

Carter Lake

 Crescent Lake

We were unsure about the ice conditions on Crescent lake. The alternative was to ski the Crescent Lake Trail, which would have taken much longer. We were glad to ski across the lake.

 Crescent Saddle Cabin

 Randy & Josh

 Mary Beth & Cathy

 Josh breaking trail.

There was still quite a bit of brush to deal with this early in the season. The easy route is up the creek bed after the willows are covered in snow. That hadn't happened yet, so we fought out way through trees and brush to access the upper saddle.

 Skinning up the alder runs with Crescent Lake in the distance.

John making some turns!

  Looking down to Kenai Lake.

Mary Beth and Randy followed our skin track to the upper saddle. Greg, Josh, John, and I met up with them after the ski run. We ended up following a flag line together on the way back. It was a better route, but we lost it halfway back.

 Mary Beth & John

Josh, Cathy, Randy, and Greg
Cow Parsnip
It was nice to get to this area before it was opened to motorized use. The growl of snowmachines echoing in the valley really alters the experience. It's nice to travel in such a beautifully quiet winter landscape.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

09/18/11 Bleak (5430') & Bright (5745')

The plan for the weekend was to head up Camp Robber & Grey Jay Peaks. The weather forecast looked like it might be rainy towards Girdwood, so Tami and I agreed on Bleak & Bright. Peaks that neither of us had been up before.

We met up a little after 6am and drove to the Eklutna Lake Trailhead. It was a beautiful crisp fall morning with barely a cloud in the sky. We parked our bikes at the Bold Ridge Trailhead and began gaining elevation quickly. Before long we were above tree line and the sun was warming things up. I got some water flowing from the rock glacier at the head of the valley. We headed towards Hunter Pass, but found an easier route between two high points to the NW. From there it was a ridge walk to the summit of Bright. Things looked a little more interesting connecting the ridge to Bleak. 

I've heard of people scrambling along the ridge to exit in a narrow steep gully to bypass the 5th class terrain. We decided to descend a scree slope and ascend another, which probably took a little longer. After side-hilling scree below the ridge crest we reached a saddle before Bleak. It was an easy 15 minutes up Bleak from there.

We ran into a couple Sheep Hunters near the summit who said someone else had scrambled down the gully I mentioned. It turned out to be Trond Jensen on a more ambitious hike (see my blog links for Trond's page). From Bleak we descended scree slopes and brush to Bold Creek. We then began an ascending traverse, crested the next ridge, and dropped down to Sdaylent Creek before meeting back up with the Bold Ridge Trail.

By this time it was getting pretty dark, and we took the headlamps out for the ride back. The trip was 23 miles total with 7300 feet of elevation gain. The most exciting part of the day was almost running into a bull moose on the Glenn Highway going 60. Luckily my new 1994 Nissan Pathfinder performed well. It exited the ditch as well as it entered!

Rumble, Bee's Heaven, and Thunderbird Peaks

Tami trying not to blink in the bright morning sunlight.

Bold Valley

Rehydrating before the ridgewalking,

Toe of the rock glacier.

Flank of the rock glacier.

Bleak & Bright

The rock glacier resembles a marble rye.

Bellicose, Benign, and Rumble


Summit of Bright.

My head is in a halo!

West Fork Hunter Creek Drainage

We headed down scree slopes at the first saddle, and ascended scree slopes to the right of the high point on the ridge. Others have followed the ridge to drop down a narrow gully.

Descending from Bright.

So much little time!

View of the 5th class ridge.

Bold Peak

Point 5420 and Yudikench Peak

Bleak's summit

Route back to the Bold Ridge Trailhead.