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First time visit to AK, suggestions?

Regional discussion and conditions reports for Canada and Alaska. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Canada and Alaska Climbing Partners forum.
 

Postby tigerlilly » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:07 pm

Apparently, K'esugi Ridge in Denali State Park trail is closed due to flooding (fyi)
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Postby tigerlilly » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:29 pm

Here's a great story.....very enjoyable reading 8)

http://cascadeclimbers.com/trip-reports ... 1980-4474/
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Postby peladoboton » Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:07 pm

oh yeah. i devoured that one on 10 different occasions, and still use its information for coming up with stuff i would like to do on the Ruth.

pure animals, those guys. amazing level of committment.
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Postby tigerlilly » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:03 am

Money?!

I'm paying for this with frequent flier miles and my REI rebate!
:D

We narrowed things down a little bit. All this is in pencil with a big eraser on it.

1) Focus on dayhikes. This will simplify the baggage.

2) We're also traveling with 4 other Brave Companions that have various levels of experience.

3) Folks were interested in Ketchikan/Juno/Valdez/Kenai Fjords/Denali

ideas? thoughts? suggestions?

Thanks
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Postby Steve Gruhn » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:15 am

If you're flying into Anchorage, I recommend spending your time in Southcentral Alaska. Otherwise you'll spend a lot of time in the airport going to and from Juneau and Ketchikan or a lot of time driving if you're headed to Valdez. The Valdez trip is possible, though - one day driving from Anchorage to Valdez and one day taking the ferry from Valdez to either Whittier or Seward. But that's two days of sitting when you could be out doing some hiking.

The K'esugi Ridge trail likely won't be closed for long, but certain trailheads could be closed in July if bear activity becomes an issue during the salmon runs.

Denali National Park can be interesting to see, but it involves a bus ride into the park and will take two and a half days from Anchorage. It's uncommon to see Mount McKinley while riding the bus (clouds often obscure the view), but it is common to see lots of wildlife on the trip. You could also go for day hikes (or even overnight - if you schedule it right) in Denali Park.
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Postby nickmech » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:38 am

Don't waste any time in Anchorage. Big city with little to offer. Southeast Alaska is isolated from the rest of the state but would make a good trip all its own. You'd have to fly in to Juneau [cool scenic little city but jammed with cruise ship tourists in July]. Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway by the state ferry is fine. The scenery from Valdez up the Richardson Highway, across Denali Highway is the best. Chena Hot Springs, paddle wheel boat ride in Fairbanks, fly to Nome or Kotzebue for couple of days. The bus ride at Denali Park is ok. You'll see bear, caribou, sheep... Might need 3 weeks.
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:24 pm

Well, a few thoughts after looking at your profile.

Homer was mentioned as a possible destination. I wouldn't go there unless you have 3+ days (and some $) to get across the bay and camp/hike some small peaks in Katchemak Bay State Park. Homer can be frustrating for people who don't realize all that pretty scenery is out of reach.

Seward is another matter. It's a quick drive from Anchorage, and you should go. All the Kenai Fjords boats--from 2 hrs to all day--are super trips with fantastic wildlife. In addition, the Harding Icefield hike, 12 miles out of town, gives you an awesome "Antarctica" feel. Good trail, good footing, 3000 vertical feet. Go early a.m. and you might get some fine wildlife. Another Seward option that's a favorite of mine is http://www.kayakerscove.com/index.html . Cute, affordable lodge, no crowds at all, interesting kayaking, awesome peaks to scramble behind.

Another Kenai Peninsula gem, very much off the beaten track, is Hope. At the end of Palmer Creek Road is some nice trail-less but nontechnical peak scrambling.

Anchorage: People love to hate it, but our museum is really worthwhile and the Coastal Trail, way down past Earthquake Park and the airport, is about as nice a bike trail as you'll find anywhere in the world on a summer evening. There are super dayhikes (I've got a few on my SP mountain pages). In July, it tends to be best to hike in the evening--the nicest sunshine appears at 8, 9, 10 pm. Above treeline, you'll have plenty of light to hike by till midnight or so.

Up north: If Kesugi Ridge is closed, you could PM me about an alternative in the same area for southside Denali views. Flightseeing the Ruth is cool.

The drive to McCarthy in Wrangell-St. Elias Nat'l Park is a really exciting and gets you pretty well away from the crowds. Set aside 3-4 days round trip from Anchorage, since you'll stop a lot and you want at least a day for a hike above Kennicott at the desination.

A more off-beat alternative is to take a public use cabin on an island somewhere for a few days. You won't have any company, and it can be quite an adventure. PM me if that sounds like something you'd want to look into.
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Postby dskoon » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:35 pm

Some good suggestions so far.
Having worked in Denali for four summers, and spent much time in the coastal areas, I'll offer my two cents.

Depends a bit on what you want the focus of the trip to be, ie. some people fly up and go straight to Denali for ten days or so, and/or, some focus on the coastal areas.
Imo, why not do both?
Fly into Anchorage, get whatever you need, and get out. Are you renting a vehicle? Or just public transpo? If the latter, train up to Denali, etc. etc.
If you're renting a car, try and reserve(I believe that's the method), a drive-in campsite in Denali, potentially Igloo, and car camp there. Then, day trips to different zones in the park for hiking. Maybe if some are interested, backpack out there for a night.
Others mentioned the "bus ride" in Denali as being not worth it, etc. etc. Imo, the longer you stay in the park, the easier the system becomes. Go for a day and you might not have much fun. One week oughta do it. Day Hikes galore. The last of the American Serengeti. And, the longer you're there, the better your chances of seeing Grizzly, Moose, and the Mountain. The Big Three! Kids going? They'll love it, as will anyone who loves wildlife, hiking, etc. It will be unlike any other place you've been.

Then, with that same rental car, you could head south, day-trip to Homer, Seward and Valdez, car-camping along the way. Take the boat out of Seward to potentially see marine life. Much different than the interior of Alaska. And, agreed, not tons to do in Homer, more so across the bay in Katchemak St. Park, (which would be great for cabin rentals, kayaking, etc. IF you have the time), but even though it's a bit touristy, Homer is still very beautiful, at the end of the peninsula, and worth it, imo. Go Halibut fishing on a boat, if that strikes your fancy.
Do a big loop, head over to Valdez, Seward, etc. then up the highway and back to Anchorage. Not sure of the loop off the top of my head, but, check out the maps and you'll see it. Glenallen, etc. Drop off the car, catch a plane home, and Voila!

This is a trip I hope to do with my son. Hard to do all in such a big, spread-out state, unless one has the time and $$ resources. Getting to Southeast Alaska, which is definitely incredibly scenic, is certainly worthwhile, but, unless you plan carefully, ie, including it in the itinerary by taking the ferry from Bellingham, Wa. up or down(3 days), can be, as mentioned, expensive or time-consuming. You either have to fly down to Juneau, Ketchikan, etc. or, drive down to Haines and hop on the ferry. Driving is a long ways from either Fairbanks or Anchorage. So, you can see, where do you want to spend your time?

Ps. I saw the part of dayhiking. Does this mean no car camping? You could throw the basics in a large duffel, ie. tent and sleeping bags. Have everyone bring their personals, including sleeping mat, in a backpack. Car camping will certainly be much cheaper than paying for lodging.

I think by focusing on the central part of the state, both interior and the coast, one gets a good taste of Alaska fairly inexpensively and easily.
Anyway, lots of good stuff up there! I'm envious! Hope to get up there in the next couple of summers. Say hi to that great place for me.
Pm. me if you'd like with any further questions. I'm no expert, but I traveled around the state for many a summer.
Good luck!
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Postby tigerlilly » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:41 am

OK.

If you had to pick a good hike in Ketchikan, Juneau or Valdez? Or something similar that could be neat to do?
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:50 am

tigerlilly wrote:OK.
If you had to pick a good hike in Ketchikan, Juneau or Valdez? Or something similar that could be neat to do?


Tell us a bit more about how this would come about--would you be stopping off from a cruise or marine highway run with only a few hours, or would you be in these places for multiple days?

Juneau is full of good hiking options, Ketchikan not so much (although it has other good activities).

Could you substitute Cordova for Valdez? Then we'd really have some possibilities to talk about ...
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Postby Tracy » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:53 am

tigerlilly wrote:OK.

If you had to pick a good hike in Ketchikan, Juneau or Valdez? Or something similar that could be neat to do?


Deer Mountain in Ketchikan is a good half-day hike. In Juneau, Mt Gastineau is a good half-day hike. Both of these peaks have decent pages here on SP.
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Postby lcarreau » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:07 am

The last time I flew to Anchorage, I got talked into visiting my friend in Nome, Alaska.

Nome is a very isolated (but cool) place on the Bering Sea. There's lakes, streams and
rugged mountains to the north of Nome, but be sure to carry a spare tire.

If you're into catching fish, August is the best time to do it in Nome. It stays light until Midnight !!

Here's a picture of some of my "furry pals" in good old Nome :




Image
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Postby tigerlilly » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:55 am

Looks like we're flying into Seattle, not Anchorage. Meeting buds there (one has a plane).

flying to Ketchikan. Flying to Juneau. Flying to ...... Valdez, etc etc....well. you get the idea.

Ketchikan should be skipped?
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Postby peladoboton » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:01 am

tigerlilly wrote:Looks like we're flying into Seattle, not Anchorage. Meeting buds there (one has a plane).

flying to Ketchikan. Flying to Juneau. Flying to ...... Valdez, etc etc....well. you get the idea.

Ketchikan should be skipped?


good friends to have... :wink:
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