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request for 2-3 day hikes from Anchorage or Juneau?

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request for 2-3 day hikes from Anchorage or Juneau?

Postby Lila » Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:33 pm

Hello. Hoping for some suggestions / comments about a good 2-3 day hike from Juneau or Anchorage for the first week of May. I am travelling for work, and I need to book a ticket asap, and I'm considering adding a few days into the weekend to see some of the backcountry.

Regarding level of difficulty, I am competent, have ascended many 14ers in Colorado where I live, but I do not want to over-extend myself as I have no experience hiking or climbing in Alaska, and I am concerned about anything that would be hard to navigate (prefer an established trial) and I don't wish to be fjording rivers or taking on anything I am not familiar with....

I plan to bring basic winter camping gear and snow shoes and/or crampons/axe. I will be solo.

Thanks for your response!
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Kesugi Ridge Trail

Postby Lila » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:34 pm

Ok, after a little research I am considering hiking the Kesugi Ridge Trail in Denali State Park. I would be hiking from May 5 -8th (approximate dates). Would any locals care to comment on that plan, weather, snow pack, or issues or planning items?

Thanks,

Lila
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:52 pm

I think the lack of responses so far may be because the first week of May is such a difficult time to advise about. It's a little like heading off into the Colorado 14ers in early May ... there's a whole range of challenges, starting with the fact that most trails are buried. You say no river crossings ... what if they are still frozen? Some will be.

In Juneau, a few trees at sea level may just be starting to leaf out but I imagine there will be massive snow loads on pretty much everything above 500 or 1000 feet. Kayaking might be your best bet there.

Up here around Anchorage, I am dying to tell you it will be spring by then because I want it so badly, but just yesterday we got another 8" of snow at sea level, more on the mountains. I think you will be too early for one standard, well-developed trail that people like to backpack, the Crow Pass crossing (avy danger, river issues). Other nearby classics like the Lost Lake Trail will likewise be so deeply buried you might as well be off trail. The Resurrection Pass trail might have a reasonable ski/boot track to follow. Here are a few other ideas:
1. Look on my page here: http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/566512/Mt-Magnificent.html . The ridge to Mt. Magnificent is a good early season hike and I've done some fun camping up there in April/May. It's hard to get lost, and it's very easy to access from Anchorage. The lower ridge will be like this: http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=285276&context_id=566512. The upper ridge will be entirely snowy. You'll reach a good summit for sure, but the actual tippy top might be a little scary, depending on conditions the day you go.
2. A local springtime standard is Gunsight Mountain, located about 120 miles east of here on the road to Glenallen. Get a copy of 55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska and follow the directions there. The mountain can certainly be done in a day, but snow camping on a bench about a thousand feet up the ridge can be a real treat, and then you dayhike the south peak from there. Bring snowshoes at least; sometimes crampons might help a bit at the top, but it's not steep.
3. Some of the main valleys accessed by the Glen Alps trailhead in Anchorage will be at least partly hikeable by then, although you'll certainly want skis/snowshoes. The heads of the valleys can have avalanche issues, but you should be ok if you stay well away from the steep chutes and headwalls. Again, 55 Ways would give you basic info.
4. One local hiking peak that is quite exciting, Rainbow, will be completely snow free then. PM me if you want info. It's not really a place to camp, though.

Steve Gruhn will see this and add other ideas.
Last edited by chugach mtn boy on Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:56 pm

Oh, I see you were adding a post while I was writing mine. Yes, I thought about mentioning Kesugi Ridge Trail. In early May, though, you should consider it the "Kesugi Ridge Route," since the trail will be pretty deeply buried.

I haven't actually been up there--I gravitate to another area of the Talkeetnas a little farther up the road. You'd certainly get some great views of Denali if the weather cooperated. Getting onto the ridge could be pretty heavy work in your snowshoes.
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Postby Lila » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:32 pm

Great information, thanks. I purchased tickets and I am committed to Anchorage as a starting and ending point. I will have all of Wed, Thurs, Fri, and Sat to hike/explore, departing 11am on Sunday. I will probably rent a car but if it saved money and was easier, I'd try to use shuttle/taxis, etc.

I like the idea of a two day camping trip. Any additional suggestions? I plan to buy a map today to look as the suggested areas more closely...

Thanks again.
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:39 pm

Another one close to Anchorage that might meet your criteria is Pepper Peak. You start at Eklutna Lake 25 miles NE of here and take the Twins trail to treeline, which is an old road and so is easy to follow even in snow. After that you are in this bowl http://www.summitpost.org/image/437703/170914/the-twin-peaks-chugach-mountains.html but you head to the right off the picture and go to Twins Pass and then walk the ridge to Pepper (Pk 5400, Latitude=61.43251°, Longitude=-149.09615°). Total vertical is about 4500. You could camp in the bowl or at Twins Pass (brrr). All this would be pretty low key, which I understand is what you want, and it would be hard to get seriously lost. Great viewpoint, and very lonely in May, so you'll feel like you're in Alaska. In terms of conditions, might be equivalent to climbing something in the 12-13K range in Colorado in May.
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Postby Steve Gruhn » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:09 pm

May can be a tough time of year to recommend trips at lower elevations in Alaska. Chugchmtnboy recommended several areas that could certainly be OK. You might also consider trekking from Indian to Indian Creek Pass. It would be a relatively easy (7 miles one way) snowshoe trek, but you would be in the heart of Chugach State Park. You could do a similar, but longer trip from Bird to Bird Creek Pass.

For either trip, plan on lots of snow. buried trails, some avalanche danger on slopes above 30 degrees, and a lot of solitude.

Be aware that there is a $5 per day fee for parking at the Eklutna Lake trailhead. There might be a similar fee for Kesugi Ridge; I'm not sure.
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Postby chugach mtn boy » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:33 pm

I knew we could wake Steve up! His suggestion is very good--that trail gets a bit of traffic and should normally be easy to follow in snow, and very safe. The pass is scenic. Carry bear spray.
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Postby visentin » Wed May 05, 2010 12:23 pm

ask member junoiceclimber ! :)
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