Hello and welcome to our blog. We have been getting many requests to join in on blogging so here we go. I hope you all enjoy the "view". Be sure to check us out at www.earthsonglodge.com for detailed information.

EarthSong Lodge in pictures

EarthSong Lodge in pictures

The view of a lifetime

The view of a lifetime
Denali in March 2012

Caribou and Sled Dogs

Caribou and Sled Dogs

two minutes of sunshine at -16 below

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back from the Big Trip

Just two days ago we finished up a trip where the dogs were out on the trail for 13 days. Every season we offer one 10-day trip, with the itinerary depending upon trail conditions. This season our big trip was with Kevin and Dave, two experienced mushers that ran dogs with us on a seven day trip two years ago, and wanted to step up the experience. And we did.

Our trip started at the lodge, heading west on the Stampede Trail Corridor, into the park. On the Sushana Flats, we had an intense caribou encounter, and only the photos can show what we saw...to be posted soon. We spent the second night at Lower Toklat Cabin, and then headed up the Clearwater Fork the back way to Kantishna and Wonder Lake. That route hasn't been broken out for years, due to the reputation of the Clearwater for overflow that "eats" snowmachines. A couple that guide for us were kind enough to break out the trail, and up over Awesome Pass we went. Not called Awesome Pass for nothing, it offers an incredible view of Denali and the Alaska Range, the Moose Creek Drainage, and a hair-raising descent to Moose Creek...made all the more "interesting" due to virtually no snow most of the 700' descent. One of the short steep drops on the descent now has the moniker of "Testicle Hill"...if you are wondering about that, see a soon-to-be posted video clip on YouTube. We reached the Parker Cabin (a cabin located on Moose Creek where the previous owner was evicted by the National Park Service when Denali National Park grew in 1980 to encompass the land his cabin was on), only to find the Denali Park Kennel crew and dogs staying there. We camped about a mile down, after a very long 35 mile day.

The next few days were spent at Wonder Lake, with amazing views and weather. We met up with the new mountain climber gear hauling concessionaire, Eric Jayne, who was beginning his haul. We mushed to the top of Turtle Hill for an unequalled view of Denali, and then down the McKinley River a bit.

On Day 6, we left Wonder Lake and mushed east to Upper Glacier Creek and the Muldrow Glacier. Our goal was to run up to Anderson Pass, but the very low snow year only allowed us to go about a mile up the creek, bouncing along on sharp rocks and boulders. By this time, a 48 hour virus was hitting a few of our key sled dogs, including main leader Frodo and chase leader Assam. Luckily their overall attitudes and health remained good, so we were able to keep on moving. The next day we curved around Mt. Eielson and heading up the Thorofare River to the terminus of the Sunset Glacier, for an amazing backdrop at lunchtime. That night we were back in Thorofare Gorge.

Since the Denali Park dog teams had put in a trail up to their backcountry cabin on Moose Creek, we thought it a good idea to head up onto the Park Road and mush to the trail that headed towards that cabin. That would entail five miles on gravelly road, and then 2.5 miles along a hiking trail to where the dog trail was put in. The best laid plans... Since there was virtually no snow at the Moose Creek Trailhead, we then decided to go to the south and meet back up with the Thorofare River. Bad idea. Two steep drops down the tundra found all three teams tied up in an alder thicket. For those of you who don't know Alaskan alder, it is something to be avoided at all costs, for dogs and hikers. About a half-hour later and some creative use of my ax, we were heading back to the road, to continue west to Wonder Lake. Lots of gravel and burnt plastic later, we arrived at the lake, and stayed there for that night.

On Day 9, we mushed to the Kantishna Airstrip, and then over to the Parker Cabin for our guests' last night in the Denali Backcountry. We headed to the airstrip the following day, and Kevin and Dave flew out via small bush plane back to Healy...being exchanged for JJ, our dog handler. He and I combined the three teams into two larger ones, dropped one of the sleds off at the Wonder Lake Ranger Station, and then started the three day trip back east to EarthSong.

Awesome Pass had even less snow, Moose Creek had more ice, but finally we made it over to the Clearwater. After a short trip up to Stampede Mine (Thanks for the trail, Jamie and Hannah), we arrived at Lower Toklat Cabin. And then two more days, and we were home. Things are changing here fast, snow disappearing under the unrelenting sunny days, so spring is not too far away.

We have one last overnight trip, three people for a three day trip, beginning Sunday. Then one last day trip, and Karin and I should be heading to Homer and see if we still have seven feet of snow in our front yard. Going to take the pups out of the pen to run around the dog yard for their first outing, and give them their vaccinations. And the dog boxes will come off the truck. I imagine soon enough we will be visiting with some of you all out there, when you come up this summer.

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome trip! You went everywhere on one long trip... The dogs look good...calm, but eager to go. That video coming down Awesome has the most radical head plant we've ever seen! That musher should get a job as a stunt man...or do a segment of "Jackass"! Sounds like lots of good trails out there this year despite the low snow...


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