Ten nights in a modest mountain range in the interior of Alaska was the perfect antidote to a winter abbreviated by the 2 months I spent working on a project in the Middle East.
Short on a diversity of vistas due to large wildfires that covered much of the terrain in ’04 and ’05, what the White Mountains north of Fairbanks aren’t short of is quietude. Despite a snow-machine track and set of 11 cabins (and two emergency shelters) linked together by over 220 miles of trail, during the weekdays we only encountered a handful of people a day (snowmachiners, skijorers, mushers and fat-tire bikers). In between that, and with the three of us usually distancing ourselves from each other in miles, we found solitude on trail days (anywhere from 9-mile days to our 24-mile marathon day). Sunny days helped lay contrast into the plethora of animals tracks that crisscrossed the man-made trail. Lynx, moose, wolves, martin, snowshoe hares, wolverine-everyone was there! But they kept themselves well hidden. The biggest sighting of the trip was the hairiest fox I’ve seen (plush in his winter coat to battle the interior winter extreme) pouncing on hidden voles and lemming, breaking through a crust of snow to get at the little treats. But I was hundreds of yards away – as close as he felt I should get, I suppose.
I could keep going on about the trip, so feel free to ask next time you see me around. Here’s a tight selection of images from the 11 days. I had a really tough time editing this down from 40 photos. Maybe that’s something else I can share if I see you around in person.
This is the best hut-to-hut system that I know of in Alaska. It’s perfect for an extended winter adventure with cold, solitary daytime travel and toasty, nightly cabin companionship, replete with hot drinks, game time and big salmon dinners!
(These old timers were enjoying a romantic few days, snowmachining between cabins. We had a nice chat with most folks along the trail, exchanging information about conditions and animals sightings but I wish I could sit down for dinner again with this couple…they were a particularly fascinating pair of Fairbanksians)
(Joe showers during one of our two rest days)
(Cameron enjoying the ubiquitous hot drink in Colorado Creek Cabin)