Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bush Trip: Part 1

A week after Andrew helped our friend put in a trail to their bush cabin, we went back out with the two of them and stayed for a week!  It was so much fun and we wished we could have stayed longer.  Since we took so many pictures during the week I decided it was easier to just post a bunch then try to narrow it down.  :) 
It's just shy of a 100 mile ride out to their place.  The first 60 miles you parallel the northern side of the AK Range and ride through spruce forests and open tundra and cross two rivers.  Then the next 35 miles are up a braided river bed.
A section of the trail through the trees.
One section of the trail is someone's trap line.  There were lots of traps set just off the trail marked with bright orange flagging. 
This is a lynx leg being used for bait.
The start of the river miles.  It's pretty smooth and broad where we got onto the river.  Because of the way the ice formed this year (not as solid as other years) there are lots of ice shelves varying in thickness.  So, you have layers of ice and air above the flowing river which in this area is pretty shallow.  On our way out a week later, using the same trail, our machine punched through the top layer of thin ice, but we were able to keep driving.  When our friends come out next month they might have to take a new route in many areas of the river.
Smooth cruising!  Those tracks beside the trail are from our friends dogs.  Two of them are older huskies and run a lot of the trail with the snowmachines.
A couple of open water pockets.

Coming into the AK Range!
Crossing a snow bridge.
Taking a very narrow trail through the willows to avoid a bad part of the river.
Riding right beside the river.
This is a look inside of an ice hole right beside the final ice bridge that leads to the cabin.  There is running water below the ice, making steam, which forms frost on everything.  You can't see it, but the detail of the icicles above the water was incredible.  There were intricate ice feathers growing on every icicle hanging.

This is the view from their property.  This is looking upstream.  The main place sits back in the woods a little, but the cabin that we stayed in was pretty close to the river bed.  I could see how overflow water could easily reach the cabin.
Looking downstream.  Pay close attention to the ice bridge in this photo, and all the river pictures of this section.  We took photos of this section everyday to capture the changes.  So you'll see more pictures of this same area later in the post.
Close-ups of the downstream section. 

The ice was pretty stable all the way to the edge of the open water, so we were able to walk up fairly close.
Getting water on our first day there.  They are so lucky to have such a great spring nearby.  It's less than a quarter mile away and normally stays open all winter because the water temperature has been a consistent 40 degrees year round.  This trip it actually froze up for the first time ever!

Really cool ice formations on top of the spring water.

Our first morning there....significant changes in the river in front of our cabin.  Overflow water oozed out and over the ice during the night.  You can see it covered some of our footprints from the day before.  Thankfully most of the water flowed over on the other side of the river and not towards our cabin.  You can see the fresh ice on the river bed below that mountain in the above photo.
The water flowed over the ice bridge.
Looking up river from below the ice bridge.
The ice bridge...under construction :)
We did a little construction work ourselves that first day.  The channel of the spring needed to be a little deeper, so we shoveled out as much sand and clay as we could.  Then we went out to do a little snow shoeing.
We found a different spring source behind their place.  It had a thin sheet of ice covering it with some amazing ice feather and crystals on it.

We came out on a creek bed that flows into the river and we decided to head up that to the mouth of the canyon.
Breaking through rotten shelf ice on the creek.  Luckily there was no water underneath it.
We hiked up on a little hill at the mouth of the canyon.  This is looking down at the creek and the river is at the base of the mountains.

Bush Trip: Part 2

We had a few beautiful days while out there.  Cold too, -32 F was the lowest temp we saw.
Looking downstream.  All that overflow water has frozen up nicely.
The upstream part of the snowbridge.
Looking upstream.  The visual difference in the snow in the foreground is where the overflow water was.  The smooth part on the right was snow/ice that was completely covered in water, but the textured part was where the overflow water saturated the snow but didn't cover it.
The rocky knobs behind Andrew is a cool structure downstream from where we were based, but it is one that Andrew has looked at quite a bit and wanted to get up on top of.  We decided to take one day and break a trail from the river through the trees up to the base of the rocky area, then go back on a different day and get to the top of it.  As is turned out, we had success the first day but not the second day. 
This was the day that we were trying to get back down to the rocky knob.  We were traveling the river trail by ourselves and were checking out one of the snow bridges.  It appeared that the river had flowed over the snowbridge since we'd last crossed it, and we wanted to make sure it was still strong enough for the machine.
Turns out it was.
Very cool cascading ice fall with water flowing over it.

Behind Andrew is the rocky knob that we were trying to get to.  Not the big peak, but the smaller rocky one in front of it. 
This is what turned us around....overflow covering the trail.  Mostly frozen already but not completely.  Andrew is checking the ice above.  We thought it was safe, but we ended up busting through and riding through eight inches of water. 
More ice feathers

This was the trough we made.  We didn't think it would be a good idea to park the machine  for several hours after, because it might freeze solidly in place after getting so wet, so this is where we turned around and headed back to the cabin.  It took us quite a while to get the machine cleaned up when we got it back.  It had ice all over it.
Morning light

The open water is freezing up nicely in front of the cabin.

Off to get some more water.

Oh no, the spring is frozen over for the first time that they have ever seen (in the 16 yrs. they've used it).

We took a walk up river one afternoon.
Andrew being Andrew :)

Looking back downstream
I like the little ice chunk on top of the big ice chunk.
The river is about two feet deep here.
Ice fall on the river bank.

Tossing rocks trying to break ice.

This is looking up the creek that we snowshoed up the first day.