Friday, January 2, 2015

Winter Hiking

The lack of skiable snow doesn't stop us from enjoying outdoor activities in winter.  I have been on two great hikes in the last week.  It would have been nice to be on skis, but at least I didn't have to worry about avalanche danger.  Before the weather turned rainy in Kodiak, Molly, Katelyn and I climbed Heitman Peak via the east ridge.  There wasn't really a trail head, rather we just picked a spot that looked easiest to start from the road.  We only had to bushwhack a short distance before gaining the ridge line which had lightly worn trail.  In Kodiak the hiking down low doesn't get any easier that it is now with the vegetation down and no snow.  We were in snow for the last few hundred feet of elevation but not so much that we needed anything special.  Now every time I see that ridge driving between Chiniak and town I will be reminded of that awesome hike.

Halfway up Heitman
Molly and Katelyn enjoying the view of Middle Bay from Heitman

Molly and Katelyn nearing the top of Heitman
Today I headed up Baldy here in Eagle River and continued up to Black Tail Rocks.  Even with the short days there was time enough for me to make this climb which took 4.5 hours round trip.  Honestly the going was quite slow as I found myself breaking trail through the snow after gaining the top of Baldy.  The snow was mostly 8 to 10 inches deep with occasional knee deep spots and occasionally bare spots.  Only one place near the summit was it waist deep as I struggled to gain the last 50 feet of elevation.  As always, the view from the summit was striking.  Denali was out and the sun shone brightly on the Talkeetna Mountains to the north.  I wanted to take some photos of the large frost crystals that had formed on a few clumps of grass.  Sticking through the the snow in the low angle sunlight they looked really cool but my iPhone was apparently too cold and would not stay on long enough to take the photo.  I did get a few photos from the summit.

Looking North from Black Rail Rocks
Looking west from Black Tail Rocks

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