Monday, October 15, 2018

Let's Go Hiking!

Warning: if you're looking for motivation to get into shape, this is probably not the article for you.
"I had this aha moment while hiking the other day. Aha moments while hiking are usually great, and occasionally even life changing. Sometimes hiking helps me get crystal clear on what I want for dinner. Other times, step by step I chart different paths forward in my life through difficult circumstances. Hiking is cathartic. But what I realized this time is that hiking is also difficult. It always has been, and so I suppose it always will be."  

Read the entire article at this link. Steep climbs, profuse sweat, plodding pace — let’s go hiking!
If you do choose to hike, you will need good footwear.  Checkout my footwear recommendations below.

My favorite boots are the Zamberlain Vioz.  They come in men's and women's and I have tried both. I have a narrow to average heel, but need more room in the toe box. I find these boots have enough room in the toe box but fit well in the heel. I also find I need a waterproof boot in Alaska and have used these boots in all seasons including winter for years. They have never let me down.

What I like about them:
-good fit
-waterproof with a gortex liner
-good support without being too stiff or heavy
-no break-in needed right out of the box and no blisters
-all leather construction for better wear
-good traction

INSOLES are also an importance piece of equipment to have in your outdoor equipment arsenal. They can breathe new life into an old pair of boots.

I have tried many types of insoles over the years, and have found Superfeet to be the best. I like the orange (men's) or berry (women's) Superfeet the best because they have some cushioning and a good heel cup which holds my heel in place.

Of course it never hurts to have some Moleskin along on  a hike. You never know...

For more gear recommendations, check the Pages section.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hiking with a llama: Is this the next big thing...

Instead of carrying a heavy backpack into the backcountry, some people are bringing along a llama for their adventures. 

"I’ve seen a growing trend in the past year: Hikers and backcountry campers using llamas to help carry supplies and to add some four-legged company to a trip through the southwestern Colorado wilderness or the high elevations of Rocky Mountain National Park.

I always turned into a conversation starter. People would tell me how they’ve done difficult hikes in the past, and the llamas made it much easier. Others talked about the enjoyment of having the animals with them on their adventure."  by Will Swope,, Denver, CO.

Follow this link to read the rest of the story:  Hiking with a llama: Is this the next big thing for Colorado adventures? (, Denver, CO)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Symphony Lake - Ship Creek Loop

This hike through the beautiful South Fork Valley and over the mountains into Ship Creek offers stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains. During September you will have the added bonus of vibrant fall colors.

To get there, take the trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes from the South Fork trailhead parking lot. Specific directions for the trailhead and hike to Eagle and Symphony Lakes can be found in either book (available at Amazon through the links below.)

Proceed to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp here for the night. Once on the southwest side of Symphony Lake, look to the mountains directly west for a broad mostly tundra slope with a saddle at the top. After a 1600 foot climb you will reach the saddle where you can see the North Fork of Ship Creek. At this point you can either drop about halfway down to Ship Creek to find an old horse trail.  Follow the horse/animal trail to Rendezvous Pass where you will climb over into the South Fork. Once over the pass, the trail will take you back to the parking lot.

The other option is to turn northwest to follow the ridge(s) and eventually drop down into the South Fork Valley. Depending on where you drop from the ridge, you should eventually intersect with the trail to the South Fork trailhead parking lot where you started. This is a hike for clear weather as you will need to have good visibility to see the route on the ridges. There are a number of ways to go. You will need to be adept at route finding and navigation as there are no trails on the ridge. The horse trail below is badly overgrown in areas and very difficult to follow. Happy Trails!

More photos at  Alaska Llamas Facebook Post - Symphony-Ship Creek Loop

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Bear Alert for Ship Creek

To All Hikers and Hunters in Ship Creek Valley: 
New bear caution sign posted at South Fork Eagle River trailhead directed at Ship Creek Valley, which is one valley to the south on the other side of Rendezvous Ridge.

Facebook link to specific location of moose kill

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Williwaw Lakes and Long Lake - Chugach State Park, Alaska

Walrus Lake (Uppermost Williwaw Lake)
The hike to Williwaw Lakes is one of my favorites in Alaska's Chugach State Park. This trek which is a short drive from  downtown Anchorage, offers a variety of options including day hikes, overnight or multiday adventures, In the winter, it is also popular ski trail. The lakes are alpine jewels situated in a mountainous valley above Anchorage at the base of craggy Mount Williwaw (elev. 5,445 ft.). The trek to the lakes takes the hiker through alpine tundra amid a variety of alpine flowers, grassy meadows and scrub hemlock. The pristine lakes offer the hiker an alpine paradise with spectacular views of surrounding mountains with the added bonus of wildlife viewing of dall sheep, moose, coyotes, fox, and various waterfowl. There are plenty of camping opportunities around the Williwaw lakes.

Saddle SE of Near Pt.
There are several ways to access the lakes. For the more gentle but longer route, take the Middle Fork Trail from the Prospect Heights Parking lot. For a shorter but more rugged trail option, start from the Glen Alps trailhead/parking lot to connect with the Williwaw Lake Trail via the Ball Park. For more detailed information on the trails, driving directions to trailheads, and maps refer to the following books. (Both are available on Amazon at the links below.)

The Loop/Traverse to Long Lake
From the pass above Walrus Lake (upper most Williwaw Lake) you can opt for a longer (possibly two day trip) to Long Lake and the valley of the North Fork of Campbell Creek. By the way "Williwaw" means “very windy” so be prepared for high winds, and secure your tent well (if camping.) The weather can change quickly and drastically at these elevations. I have also encountered very windy, wet and wintery conditions while camping around Long Lake in late summer. It is best to do this traverse June through August if you want to avoid adverse weather.

To make the traverse/loop from the pass to the Prospect Heights trailhead, continue around either side of Long Lake and follow the North Fork of Campbell Creek downstream about 2.5 miles beyond the last lake. At this point look for a trail on your left which climbs about 800 ft. (up the northwest ridge of Wolverine peak) to a notch/saddle on the ridge sou
Climbing from Long Lake (below) to the pass above Walrus Lake.
theast of Near Point. From here you can connect to a trail that goes back to Prospect Heights by (1) continuing on the trail up and over Near Point or (2) bushwacking from the saddle to the trail (that goes back to Prospect Heights.) The second (2) is my preferred option to avoid climbing over Near Point. Again, for more details on this trip, refer to the books cited above. What I like about the Williwaw-Long Lake traverse is that it is a delightful and very accessible "wilderness" trip in Southcentral Alaska right at Anchorage's back door.
Long Lake

*When I do the traverse, I prefer to take the trail to Near Point and proceed over the saddle/notch into the North Fork Valley of Campbell Creek and camp at Long Lake. The next day, we climb the pass and descend into the Williwaw Lakes hiking out mostly downhill to the Prospect Heights parking lot. The photo above (left) shows us heading down from this saddle into the North Fork of Campbell Creek.

 Hiking along Williwaw Lakes on trail through alpine valley.

Click here for photos of "Williwaw Lakes" trek and Facebook Post

Click here to download a map of Chugach State Park, Chugach State Park Map - Alaska DNR