Monday, October 19, 2015

Fall Hiking With My New Iphone Camera

I recently upgraded to the new iphone 6S plus.  As usual the camera has gotten better.  An iphone is still not replacement for Digital SLR with a good lens but it does impress me on occasion, especially compared to the early days of camera phones.  This weekend we headed up our local trail to Mile Hi Pass and along the alpine ridges.  We hiked above the fog and enjoyed views of the Alaska Range.  Despite a gray day I still snapped a few decent photos with the new camera.

Fog filled Eagle River Valley
This is not a true summit but the views from this point are great
The sun was shining brightly on the snow covered Alaska Range

My new iphone is in a water proof case so am not afraid to take it hiking in the rain.  While I was in Sikta last week I took this photo in the rainforest.  Again not the best lighting but I thought the iphone did well.
Hiking in the rainforest

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Watering Holes of Katmai

John filling up on our descent from the Katmai Caldera
I went back through my Katmai photos recently and found more good ones that I never had the chance to share on the blog. The first few are of places we got water. By the end of June the central Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is parched. The search and planning for water was a central activity that took up both mental and physical space for us while we were there.

There are often still snow patches near the huts in June, but since it was such a low snow year, we did not expect much and we were correct. We were also not prepared to melt a lot of snow with our choice of stoves (Jet Boils). On our way into the valley, we filled up at the last clear stream coming from the Buttress Range before we crossed the River Lethe (the Lethe and Knife rivers are both very silty, and we wanted to avoid filtering that water if we could).

Clear stream flowing from the Buttress Range into the Lethe
On our second day, we planned to fill up on water on our way down from Katmai Crater. While we could have filled up at the bottom, we could not pass up the pristine mountain water cascading off the rocks above - no filtering needed! At that point we did not know if we would find water the next day when we planned to visit Novarupta, so we filled as many containers as we could, including a gallon-size ziplock bag! In total I think we were carrying around 17 liters between the four of us.

While we were at Novarupta we did look for water, hoping to fill up just enough that we could more liberally use our supply. After a little searching and John's astute hearing, we found a little trickle below snow and ice.

Filling up near Novarupta
Now I will tell you the painful part of our water-saga. As we returned to the huts from Novarupta, we stumbled upon a perfectly usable trickle of water coming from an insignificant snow patch, only 15 minutes from the huts. The snow patch was so small I would never have suspected it had enough melt to produce any sort of stream. The stream only ran for maybe 100 feet before it dried up, and we had simply crossed the valley too far below to know there was running water there earlier. It's a bit embarrassing to tell this story, but I hope someone else heading into the Valley can gain some insight from our mistakes and take the time to poke around looking for water before lugging 17 liters across the valley.

Once we left the huts and headed to Mageik Lakes, through the pass, and toward the coast, collecting clear water was a breeze.

Filtering water at the outlet of one of the Mageik Lakes

Filling up in the Katmai River Valley

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mt. Eklutna

It's not too late for a hike in the mountains.  If fact, with the right gear you can hike in the Chugach almost any time of year.  With the mild temperatures and a receding snowline we decided to return to one of our favorite hikes.  The Bear Point to Mt. Eklutna hike has some of the the best view from the front range of the Chugach even on a cloudy day like today.  From the Big Peters Creek trailhead we took the trail up to Bear Point and then continued up the ridge to Mt. Eklutna descending the Mt. Eklutna trail.  There are still a few trees with fall colors but for the most part the leaves were down.  The nice thing about the leaves being down is you can see clearly into the woods.  This time I spotted a camper in the woods I had never seen before.  I suspect this eerie old camper trailer was someone's hunting camp many years ago.

I love this trailhead sign

Molly and Mary Kate at Bear Point

The view towards Anchorage from Mt. Eklutna

Creepy camper in the woods

Leaf Kabobs