Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sable Mountain

Back in early August, Andrew and I took a shuttle bus into the park and went for a day hike up Sable Mountain.  It's about 35-40 miles out the park road, just past Teklanika River and Igloo Canyon.  It was a glorious day!  The fall colors were just starting to turn.
 Just a few miles into the park we could see that the big mountain was booming!
 Saw a caribou and a moose along the way.

 Just after we stepped off the bus to begin our hike, the bus screeches to a halt and starts backing up.  The driver yelled for us to get back on the bus.  Turns out there was a sow and two yearling cubs on the other side of the road sidehilling across the canyon wall.
 They were keeping a pretty good pace and at one point started heading our direction.
 Then she changed her mind and turned back, heading down canyon again.  The driver was insistent about us starting the hike further up the road.  Park rules.... bus drivers cannot let people off the bus within 150 yards of a bear.
 However, it worked well for us!  Within minutes of hiking up the mounatin we were within sight of Denali.  The hike started above treeline at about 3,700 ft.

 Looking back down through Igloo Canyon.
Could it be a better day for a hike in the park?!?!
I don't think so :)

 Plenty of game trails to choose from crisscrossing the hillsides.
Sometimes these vistas remind me of hiking in Death Valley or other desert regions in that area.

 Higher on the mountain, we were able to see the Teklanika River to the east.
 Looking west now at the East Fork of the Toklat River, Polychrome Mountain and the park road.  Denali mostly covered by clouds now. 
 Lovely orange lichen.

  Ridge walking to the summit now.
 The top of Sable Mountain, 5,923 ft.
 We decided to make a traverse out of the hike and follow the ridge down the other side of the mountain to the river/road.
 No rush though :)  Soaking up the views along the way.

 Once off the mountain, crossing the brushy tundra back to the road, we stumbled upon an amazing blueberry patch!  It wasn't a particularly good berry crop this year but we managed to find the jackpot.  We made lots of noise as we passed through.  I would be surprised if we were the only ones who had found this patch.  Turns out, when we got close to the road there was a big grizz down on the river's gravel bar.  We were way out of sight and smell but headed the other direction anyways until we were able to hitch a ride on the next green bus.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mt. Sugarloaf

Mountain love and summer fun!  
This is possible my favorite hike around.  We do it at least once a summer so I've posted pictures of it several times before, but it never gets old :) Why is it so great?  It's close to our cabin, quick access to the ridges,  not a lot of brush bashing, breathtaking scenery, always possible wildlife encounters, and you can make it as long or as short as you'd like!  A classic Alaskan hike, it's a social trail designated by the amount of usage and it's word-of-mouth popularity.  Technically it was never "built" by any one person or group.  Therefore it's not on the map.  The only maintenance is by random hikers breaking off branches when they grow into the trail or kicking off rocks that have fallen onto the path.  The trail just keeps getting more and more defined as people discover it.
 Out of the brush and onto the ridge!  Breathtaking scenery begins!

 Mt. Healy (Andrew's summer office) in the background.

 Forget-me-not, the state flower.
 Mountain avens, the Alaska Range and the Nenana River.

 Taking a break at the first summit you reach.  We decided to continue on with the plan to reach a distinguished white peak on the backside of the mountain from where we were.
 This ridge will take us there.
 Dramatic scenery all around us from the rocks to the mountains to the clouds and the light.

Very cool rock features!

 You can kind of see the white dome in the distance that we wanted to reach.

Getting closer...

But we decided this was close enough for today.  We were still at least an hour away and thunderstorms were building all around us.  We took a little rest here soaking up the scenery then headed back.  We'll be back and it's not going anywhere.
 I can't stop taking pictures up here!  It was really hard to narrow them down too :)

 The scattered rain showers gave us this beautiful rainbow! 

 Such great light! Another delightful day to be alive!

Happy trails!