backcountry


More boondocking with the sled.  Just posting since we need to have some more updates on here that are snow related.

 

Finally made it out to the cabin a couple of weeks ago and hit some of the better snow conditions of the year.  There is about half as much snow as normal but the boondocking was superb.   Its been nice  getting a new computer and getting back into the editing world again.  Random music is a solo composition by myself – love it or hate it, no reason to worry about youtube removing it.

Fortunately, Bill called me up and asked if I could go, he didn’t want to go on a 140 mile sled ride by himself through the arctic. Of course I could go this was on my Nome bucket list. We  stalled one day because there was a big storm that had just finished blowing through but decided to leave at 8 am the next morning. We would be riding up the unmaintained Nome-Teller highway for first 35 miles than taking off across the frozen tundra towards the base of Port Clarence where the hunt area was.
Bill showed up promptly at 8 while I was still in full dongshow mode tying the fuel cans in the sled. We were on the road at 8:30 am still in the dark. As the morning light started to break, there was only a few clouds in the sky and you could tell it was going to be a nice day. I made a prayer that the ol 2000 700 rmk would stay together and come back triumphant.
We cruised without stopping to cripple river bridge mile 25ish and stretched our legs. The storm had brought some much needed snow, while the previous days wind had smoothed the majority of the tussiks. Too excited to waste daylight with the good conditions we quickly got going.

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We left the drifted highway by the parking lot for peak 3870 or Singatook as the locals call it, and started cross country across the gently rolling tundra uplands. We came upon a couple of small heards of reindeer as we came in an out of some of the small creek valleys but other than that it was just a straight shot to the Northwest.
Once were within 3 miles of the hunting area we saw some musk ox standing on the far hill but they were just out of bounds. Slightly bummed, we kept on going to the far edge of the boundary 10 miles out. Once again we saw nothing. As we arrived at the base of the Port Clarence peninsula we saw another herd of about 40 animals that were well out of the boundary. We stopped, topped our tanks off, and ate awesome cosco tamales out of the muff-pot. At this time, I was little disappointed as we hadnt seen any legal musk ox on the wide open tundra but it still was a fun tour so far.

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As we headed across the frozen swamps, the gentlest of hills had hidden a small group of muskies from our sight. Game on! My encounters with musk ox around Nome has led me to believe that you can just walk right up to them like cows. We parked about 200 yards away and Bill proceeded to walk up them. He made it 50 yards before they spooked and took off running. Thankfully there was nowhere to hide in the vast white-ness but they did head up a 300 ft cliff face before they got tired and stopped. This proved to be a better location as topography allowed us to get close and get a clean shot off in the now 45 mph wind! This was no place to dress an animal. we slid down the hill back to the sleds and rode back around the cliff and tipped it over in the sled and found a big drift 2 miles away that would shelter us from the wind we cleaned up the animal for the ride back.

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Heading back to Nome, the winds kicked up produced a ground blizzard. It was clear blue sky above 20 ft but on the ground here it was zero – zero. At times for 10 miles, I could not see Bill 25 ft in front of me.  I didn’t dare stop and take a picture due to the fear of being lost or frozen. We were doing 10 mph and it felt like we were going 60 mph.I was enjoying what mother nature was throwing at us as long as we didn’t have any problems. Luckily we made it into town without incident and hung the musk ox using the winch on the jeep!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In what is an incredibly unexpected development I just learned that Radical Rob has developed a social media presence and has been posting videos of skiing around Snowbowl or various Missoula spots.  He’s even progressed far beyond my feeble video capabilities and is incorporating a pole cam like a progressive youngster.  I’m quite happy to  be able to rectify his long absence from these pages. I’m still working on something about my trip to the lower48, so in the meantime enjoy the Montana videos. They seem to have had an amazing season, and hopefully I can keep posting these to make up for my own laziness.

Mini Truck Skiing.

Took the Mini 35 miles up the Kougarok hwy in search of some spring skiing. This was the longest solo trip of the mini’s life.  The mini dominated the gravel roads that have been recently thawing out, its narrow stance splitting the pot holes and ruts from the bigger vehicles.  About 2 miles from my stopping point, I was enjoying looking out at future ski lines, then I was relegated to an idle. WTF?!?!  I got out and saw that the throttle cable had just broke.  After a brief panic, the ultimate jury rigging took place.

and this fix has laset for the last 100 miles

and this fix has laset for the last 100 miles

During my skin up I could see bear tracks across the valley that led to black spots that I was sure were bears but I just could make them out a mile away.  Running through the different bear encounter scenarios kept my mind from thinking  how out of shape and hot I was.

the skiing

the skiing

Once I reached the summit of my ski, I was faced with the usual dilemma of not see what I was going to ski.  The hot spring conditions had my avalanche hackles up so I tossed a snowball for the dog and watched her jump the cornice and chase the snowball.  The NW aspect looked better than I thought.

the approach 3.5 miles

the approach 3.5 miles

After skiing  4” of wet pow and making it all the way back to the truck without any bear surprises,  I was enjoying the radio, which was emitting some fuzzed out playlist when I began to be flagged down by a truck on the shoulder.  Why were these people flagging me down, I thought to myself, if they only knew I was keeping my day together with vise grips, tie wire, and tape.   They wanted to know if I had a pump – which I did.  I watched them fumble with it for a while thinking about having been in this same situation before.   They pulled out a jack, which turned out to be broken, so I offered up a jack.  The trailer tire had a hole in it so I gave them a couple tire plugs, and a can of fix a flat.   They were super pumped and couldn’t believe that the little mini truck had rescued them.   I told them that my day was so awesome that it just wouldn’t be right to not get them on the road have them get after the rest of the day. I mean it was already 7pm and they still had 5hours of day left ahead of them.  the day ended with what was only the most awesome meal of all time a double pattied bacon waffle burger from golden china.

Fixing the local crap

Fixing the local crap

Little did I realize, the mini would save the day three days later on my birthday.  I was slated to meet Nome’s Senator to make some work arrangements about leasing office space.    When I showed up to meet him, he immediately tasked me with jump starting the house representative who was parked just outside the airport, on the side of the road. Apparently he had left his keys in the ignition or something.  I pull up to the early 90’s ford truck, jumped out and introduce myself.  I think that he thought someone more official was coming, not some joker in a mini truck, either way, I tried to jump him with no luck.  He suggested that I try tow starting him.  “Sure, as long as you got a strap I’m up for anything at this point.”  I towed him back to the airport without the truck starting.  “You wanna just tow me back to my house in town? Neal asked.  Sure!  Away we went, all through town, the mini truck towing the house representative.  I couldn’t stop cracking up.  I was just wishing that the police would have pulled us over since the mini truck isn’t supposed to be on the roads we were on.

What a great birthday!

the best burger ever

the best burger ever

alaska skiing

The last month has been fantastic. Equal parts snow and sunshine with manageable avalanche conditions. April has thus far been significantly colder then January, so the snow quality has been above average,  and the extended day light allows turns till about 930 now.

main street cordova alaska skiing

Checked off a couple lines on my regional hit list, including the north couloir of Heney (pictured top), and gave a new line off Murchinson an attempt this afternoon, but mostly have just been lapping sunny powder with no one around.

mt eyak single chair alaska skiing

Today was the last official day for Mt. Eyak, despite still having tons of snow and great coverage, but I’m told they still be offering occasional bumps to shorten the trip up the ridge. The closing day bbq brought out what looked to my eyes to be the years biggest crowd, and the free burgers were fantastic.  Really everything is perfect except for the state of my bike (pictured bellow), which got run over by some slednecks and is mangled beyond repair.

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alaska skiing wolverine ridge cordova

Skiing has been fantastic recently.  Colder temps, with occaisonal night time flurries with either high clouds or sunny skies during the day for the last week.

mt eccles cordova alaska skiing

Skied the center chute on Mt. Eccles (pictured above) yesterday, and have been making a habit out of closing days spent skiing elsewhere with late afternoon trips up Mt. Eyak for evening laps into Hippie Cove (pictured bellow). Hopefully the wonderful conditions continue through spring.

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