Late Summer Jaunts

I spent the late summer in Anchorage writing The Alaska Factor and building a the good life, playing in our backyard.  

One lazy morning Cathy and I left Hiland Road hiking toward Girdwood over the Flute Glacier. It was supposed to be a day hike. It became an 8,000-foot, 28-mile day hike—a bit long for a lazy morning. Our plan to hitch home backfired when darkness and rain caught us. We had a fun night of snuggling under a pack cover at the Crow Pass Cabin. For breakfast we hiked out to the Girdwood Tesoro for Bahama Momma hot dogs. 

To retrieve the Rice Burner a few days later, Cathy and I did an evening run from Arctic Valley over to Hiland Road.  

Did you know that Portage has the thickest shrubbery in Southcentral? I confirmed this on a very sweaty thrash to the ridgeline for a traverse from the first Portage tunnel, over Begich Peak, along the ridge and down to the Portage cutoff. The trip highlight came afterward, when I learned that 64-ounce sodas were only $1.89 at the Girdwood Tesoro. I'm growing quite fond of the Girdwood Tesoro. 

Indianhouse is the steepest summit in the Chugach Front. An interest of mine was traversing the Falls Creek ridgeline, which includes Indianhouse. Here's Tobey, Maddog, Cortney, Sarah and Heidi's Kid Brother on the summit after traversing a portion of that ridgeline from South Suicide. Like Billy Finley, we rappelled the two gendarmes, but Tobey found exposed sheep trails around both gendarmes. 

Jeff Conaway showed Cathy and I Sheep Creek in the Talkeetna Mountains. After a float plane drop off at an alpine lake we hiked down to the river. Here's Cathy inflating her packraft for six hours of floating back to the cars. 

My sister Kate, her girlfriend Kim Keller and Cathy paddling through bergs on Spencer Lake to float the Placer River. This is the ultimate visitor trip combining a train ride, hiking, camping, rock climbing and a float with icebergs. 

"I got this hole on the Kenai. Lot's of fish. We'll go down after work and kill them." Andy Newton told Cathy, Raena and me. But all I caught was a big-lipped sucker fish and a sore bum from all the driving. Good thing we always have fun with Andy and Raena. 

Joe Butler and Ryan Davis ice climbing on the Byron Glacier. 

Local avalanche and mountain guru Kevin Wright climbing Wisdom (5.9) on the Wedge above Anchorage. Kevin showed Cathy and me that Anchorage does have good rock. Thanks for an incredible weekend Kevin!

Eric Parsons tests his bike bags on the Hillside Trails. 

Cathy on the best evening run in Anchorage: the Wedge Sheep trail. 

"Hey guys! Check out all these sweeeeet mountains. Guys? Hey, where'd everybody go?" Dave Bass at the 1957 wreckage of a B-29 Superfortress in the Talkeetna Mountains. Dave and I were midway through a 15-hour stumble-fest that went here and there, over Lynx Peak and back over there. The full day was a strange combination of verging on being crushed by a 50-ton boulder and giggling like teenagers. 

Cathy near the summit of Matanuska Peak on her favorite excursion of our Anchorage summer. We followed the not-so-normal ridgeline from Lazy Mountain to Mat Peak. Near the top we found some steep granite to scramble. The wiffy likes steep granite.  

Dana Maddog Drummond on a 15-hour, 12,000-foot, 27-mile variation of the Thunderbird Traverse. The T-Bird Traverse is any tundra ridge hike that includes Thunderbird Peak in the Western Chugach. Our variation started at Peters Creek and finished at Eklutna. 

Cortney Kitchen on Knoya Point above Anchorage in mid October. Tordrillos out there. 

Alaska paddling strong man Paul Shauer in Bird Creek. Luc Mehl waiting in line. This excursion enhanced my understanding that water is best when frozen. 

Are you impressed? You should be! This thing took me a lot of evenings and some weekends. I'm lucky Dad helped me for five days, otherwise I'd still be out there flailing away. Most of the windows are recycled from the Samoan church down the street. Newton hooked me up with the door. I poached the design from Judy across the alley. 

In late September I attended the AMGA annual meeting at the Gunks in New York. Cathy met me afterward for some climbing. Here is Cathy on overhanging 5.6+++ jugs on the ultra-classic route High Exposure. Our favorite day at the Gunks was cragging with Markus Jolliff from Joshua Tree who also came for the guide meeting. Great getting to know you Markus!

After cragging we visited Flanagans. There are lots of Flanagans. Here are a few. Cathy with her parents Peg and Mike Flanagan during a rowdy 18 holes at the par three in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware. After touring around the East Coast for several weeks I found the East's finest attribute are Flanagans.  

Back in Anchorage it's stacking up on Airport Heights! 


And it's stacking up in the hills. Jeff Ellis skiing Eddies shrubbery at Turnagain Pass. You know Jeff is Canadian because he's wearing a toque.