Friday, February 1, 2019

Can't carry a heavy backpack into the wilderness anymore?

Then let your 300 pound hiking (llama) partner carry the pack and you can still enjoy the wilderness! Checkout the PBS video below for more.



Monica Drost and her friends have been backpacking together since they were in college. But now in their 50s, they can’t carry their heavy packs anymore. Luckily, they found a llama outfitter and can now enjoy the wilderness without the aches and pains. 

Click here for Llama Backpacking Video 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Do Llamas Spit?

People often ask me this question. Here's a good answer which applies to llamas as well as alpacas (from Pacabella Farm Alpacas.) 


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!
Climbing Hiland Mountain -  Eagle River, Alaska

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) to Heritage Falls

The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range and offers diverse scenic sights including glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. It’s not only a great hiking/backpacking route, but it's also an historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. A bit of trivia not known by many is that this trail was rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor.

There are a number of hiking options from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) parking lot. You can hike the entire twenty-three mile traverse, hike portions of the Crow Pass trail (as I often do) or take other shorter trails that start from the ERNC. Follow this link for more on these shorter trails. Eagle River Nature Center Trails.

If you elect to hike the entire twenty-three mile traverse you can start from either Girdwood or the ERNC. The Elevation Gain is 2,100 feet from Crow Creek trailhead; and 3,100 feet from the ERNC so most hikers start from the ERNC. 




ERNC to Heritage Falls
One of my favorite sections is the trail from the ERNC to Heritage Falls.  It's about a 10.5 mile round trip (RT) from the ERNC and makes for a nice day hike. The trail from the Nature Center to the Perch (mile 4) and then on to Heritage Falls (mile 5) can usually be hiked all times of the year including winter.

(Note: this is not true of the Cross Pass end where avalanche danger is a concern during the winter months.)

    View from new trail above the Perch 
    From the ERNC, the first section of trail meanders through the woods until it meets up with the Eagle River at Echo Bend (mile 3) where it generally follows the river from this point forward. At about mile 1.2 the hiker gets a first glimpse of the Eagle River below the "Rapids Camp." (There is a short trail down to the river opposite the Rapids Camp.) It's not uncommon to see moose, sheep, goats and bear on your way to Heritage Falls depending on the time of year you are hiking. During the fall, you have the added bonus of stunning fall colors. 

    The trail once ran adjacent to the river at approximately mile 4 near the Perch. Due to erosion it has been rerouted above the "Perch" and outstanding views of the Eagle River can now be had from the new "high" trail.

    During winter months when the river is frozen, the hiker can alternate between the river and the trail. The trail from the Perch to Heritage Falls is more direct than following the river on this section. So I usually hike the river from Echo Bend (when frozen) to the Perch, and then get back on the trail just beyond the Perch for the remainder of the hike to Heritage Falls.

    Once you've hiked about five miles (from the ERNC), you will notice some camping spots near the river. At this point, look across the Eagle River, and you will see Heritage Falls - frozen in the winter. This is a great place for a lunch break (or an overnight if you are camping). If you hike another half mile, you will arrive at Icicle Creek. Whatever your destination, enjoy!
                                        

    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    Lower Eagle River Trail or River Woods Trail


    Boardwalks in the pond are
    The lower Eagle River trail (also called the River Woods Trail) runs along the Eagle River in Chugach State Park and can be hiked all times of the year including winter. Often overlooked, it's just minutes from downtown Eagle River. It's an easy walk that offers convenient access with intermittent views of surrounding mountains and opportunity for wildlife viewing.

    The trailhead can be accessed from the south side of the Briggs Bridge off the Eagle River Loop Road where there is pubic parking and a boat launch.


    From the Briggs Bridge access, the lower Eagle River trail goes east for through birch and spruce forest over relatively flat terrain. The old section of trail skirting the private land has been improved over the years and is now clearly marked. (See photo on left.)  Boardwalks have been added to a marshy section next to the Swan Pond. Remains of charred trees and scorched ground remind us of the wildfire that burned about 25 acres in this area over the Memorial day weekend in 2016.  More info on the May 2016 wildfire at this link - Hiland Road Wildfire. 



    May 2016 Burn Area
    In about 3 miles the trail reaches the South Fork stream.  A trail to the left cuts through the woods and takes the hiker to the confluence of the South Fork and Eagle River. If you walk a short distance beyond the trail to the left, you will reach the South Fork itself. The bridge across the South Fork is long gone so you will have to ford the stream if you want to pick up the trail on the other side and continue to Barbara Falls, also called South Fork Falls.

    Since our destination today was the Eagle River, we took the trail to the left. It's a short hike (maybe 1/4 mile) from here to the Eagle River. When salmon are in the river be particularly "bear aware" along this stretch as you could surprise a bear due to river noise. At the confluence, there is a grassy area and exposed gravel bar where you can take a break and enjoy views of the river and surrounding mountains.

    The trail is open to biking as well as hiking so it's not unusual to see fat tire bikes on the trail. It is also common to see rafts and kayaks floating by on the Eagle River at this location.

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