Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Solo Backcountry Backpacking

I prefer to go solo on my backpacking trips. I trust my judgment and take calculated risks. Some call me anti-social and rash, but I prefer only being responsible for myself, not having to worry about another person's weaknesses. 

I travel light: usually only bringing a sleeping bag, some peanut butter+cheese (you don't need anything else to satisfy your caloric needs) my water bottle and a knife.

Sleeping on some ridge

I prefer to get above treeline (not difficult this far north), and to follow either a creek up a drainage or to wind my way along a ridge.  
Someone did try to cut it down. Human idiocy has no limits.

There are no trails, no signs, no park rangers telling you what you can and can't do. It’s just you and your skills–it weeds out the “wanna-bees” (you know who I’m talking about, the people who go to REI, buy tons of expensive gear they don’t really need, complete a 10 mile hike in 3 days and then brag about how epic and intense it was.) 
The alder and willow are like a never-ending green obstacle course, which is why I prefer trekking up the northern riverbeds.
One lady was flown into the depths of ANWR with the intention of hiking out, but she had to be rescued after she climbed into her sleeping bag with wet clothes on, twice. Really?   Again, human stupidity.... I'm growing more and more intolerant of it.

Below is one of the Beavers I cleaned for Coyote Air (and incidentally is the same one that airlifted the woman out). I either hitchhike or get a ride in a bush plane wherever I feel like hiking. 
I had several bear encounters, but they were all resolved (fairly) peacefully. Alongside the mother's print below where a small cub's tracks. Not good. 
One memorable trek: I follow an unnamed creek up a canyon, climb a scree slope to a pass, and come close to breaking my back on the way down. Lesson learned—don’t wear sandals on loose rock.

I'd climbed up, but the 4000 foot, snow-covered descent did not look good....
The view from the top was great, but some sacrifices were made in order to get down. Notice the keen sandals. 
I found many dead animal remnants, some with meat still hanging on the bone (not pictured, because I got away from there as fast as I could). It was like a never-ending, grotesque jigsaw. 

I followed emerald-colored Marion Creek, and found an abandoned mining camp as well as a lake. Had to stone-hop most of the way. Most of the rivers and creeks here are named after former prostitutes from the area: Linda, Minnie, Clara, Kelly, Jenny.... Damn, those girls must have been busy.

Building a fire Jack-London-style, and a cool hidden waterfall I found tucked away in a canyon.
Tussocks are clumps of grassy material surrounded by boggy water, which makes walking across the tundra more difficult than it appears--ankles are easily twisted on this terrain. 

Fording more rivers (Fact: more people are killed by rivers every year than by bears or moose)

Waiting out a storm in the tent I borrowed while listening to a podcast on the history of flamethrowers. 

Sunsets during my 2 am runs, mountain ridges, intense rainbows:

Some mountains I've climbed: The snowy one on the left is Coldfoot Mt. and the one on the right is Emma Dome


Awesome cloud cover, a rainy mist, sunrise overlooking the Brook's Range:


Aufeis, also known as "overflow ice", forms when the water from the river flows onto the ice and refreezes. It didn't melt all summer. 

My personal favorites (august in ANWR): 

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