Thoughts, ramblings, experiences and joys of an Alaska girl. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is firmly rooted in the Great Land of Alaska.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Backpacking, Not For The Poor of Pocketbook or Faint of Heart!

Alex, a few friends and I are backpacking Crow Pass the 16th and 17th of June. Crow Pass goes from Girdwood Alaska to Eagle River Alaska. The trail is 24 miles long (add a few miles for sightseeing detours). The first 3 miles of the hike are totally uphill (the last 21 are downhill). I know I'll be hurting when the trip is finished. Just writing this, I'm wondering what in the heck I was thinking agreeing to go! Oh yes, I remember now. It was for the amazing experience I anticipate I'm going to have. Wildlife viewing is a guarantee, with moose, marmat, ground squirrels, mountain goats, bear and beavers along the trail. Glacier viewing is a guarantee; we'll pass Raven Glacier and Eagle Glacier on the trip. There are mining ruins along the way. Wildflowers are in full bloom. We'll see waterfalls, cross a gorge, traverse a river and camp under the stars (for the few hours it's actually "dusky" with the midnight sun in full force). (

I found some great websites that I've printed information off of. I'm new to backpacking, so I need all the tips I can get! I've camped before, taken day hikes before, but backpacking overnight is something I haven't done. There won't be any bathrooms, or running water, or restaurants along the way. I won't be wearing makeup, or styling my hair. This definitely isn't a retreat trip to a mountain spa! We are going to try following the no trace principles of camping (, and of course we'll be practicing bear safety along the way.

Purchasing items for this trip has been pretty pricey! I had to go get a cold weather sleeping bag for temperatures down to 15 degrees, one that could be cinch sacked down to a very small size to fit in my pack, and one that didn't weigh more than 2 1/2 pounds (and, a sleeping pad for the rocky ground). Since the pass is so high up, snow remains there (deep snow) until well into summer, and I needed a bag that will keep me warm. Hypothermia is the LAST thing I want to have to worry about when we are in a remote area with no phone service. I've also got to pack two separate sets of clothes, at the least. When we went last week to check out the trail, we spoke with someone who said that the pass was still covered with snow, and that we'd need to be prepared to traverse when the river would be about knee to thigh high and COLD, COLD, COLD (it's glacial and snow run off). We'll be crossing the river in shoes other than our hiking boots. Nothing worse than wet socks and hiking boots. I've got to have a set of clothes for warm weather, and one for cold weather, along with extra socks, slick socks, tennis shoes, and all the regular essentials for a trip like this ( We also got bug spray, bear spray, a gps unit and binoculars. I'll also be taking my snow shoes, just in case. The food we got for the trip is all freeze dried. No bringing a cooler on this trip! Alex found some pretty interesting grub. For breakfast, we will be enjoying freeze dried eggs, bacon and milk. Just add water, and PRESTO! we'll be in hog (excuse the pun) heaven. For lunch and dinner, we'll be dining on freeze dried Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Teriyaki. And, the piece de resistance... a dessert of freeze dried Bananas Foster. Snacks along the way will be provided by Power Bar. Water will be provided for by the land (we've got a purifier filter and pump). How's that for living off the land? (I'm almost positive I'll be in gastronomic distress by the time we get to Eagle River, but it'll be worth it). With how much we spent on this trip, we would have been able to fly to Seattle from Anchorage and stay at the Crown Plaza! We will be using the equipment again though when we backpack Caines Head ( and Caines Head Alpine Trail ( next month when the tide is low (Caines Head can only be accessed at low tide). We'll be using the gps unit when we go geocaching this summer (

I know I now have the utmost respect for "professional" backpackers, those brave nomads who, with packs on their backs and dreams in their hearts, hit the trails of Alaska all summer long. They live off of the land, staying only occassionally at a backpacker's youth hostel. I totally respect them, and their unshowered, unshaven, hippy selves. The next time I see one hitchiking, I am definitely going to offer them a ride.

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