Sunday, April 15, 2007

125 Miles of Bliss!

Ahhhh...I just had the most incredible weekend of skiing in my entire life. Kristen, Tina and I skied 125 miles along the Denali Hwy from Paxson to Cantwell the last 3 days. It was an unbelievable tour across the most scenic roadway in Alaska. The conditions were absolutely amazing with an 18 ft wide groomed trail, light winds, perfect trail conditions, dramatic views of mountains and glaciers, sightings of caribou, foxes, bald eagles. And don't let me forget to mention the superb company. We only saw about 30 or so snowmachines the entire weekend because everyone was at Summit Lake for the biggest snowmachine event in AK. So we went many hours without seeing anyone.

Here we are starting in Paxson Fri morning at 7am--only 136 miles to go! it was a chilly +5F. Little did we know that this would be the start of a ski area quality groomed trail for the next 3 days.

Kristen skates with ease on the bullet fast snow with the glaciated peaks of the AK Range in the background

Here are the girls making the 15 mile ascent from Tangle Lakes up to Maclaren Summit. The climb was tough because we had about 35 lbs on our backs.

Maclaren Summit at last!! We now have a 5 mile downhill to the Maclaren lodge below--sweet!

Mile 42 - Maclaren lodge! The folks at the lodge groom the road with a big snowcat periodically throughout the winter. They do an excellent job!

Here is our luxurious room with a hot shower, tub, and satellite TV!

Sat morning--its time to leave the comforts of Maclaren lodge and hit the trail again for another 42 miles of completely awesome skiing.

There is an excellent view of the Maclaren glacier tucked back in the valley from the front steps of the lodge.

After we left Maclaren lodge we went through some beautiful open tundra country with stunning views of mountains in the distance. The trail just kept getting better--and we didn't think this was possible--but it was.

We stopped and ate some food at Clearwater Creek as the sun began to filter through the clouds.

On the 2nd day out we eventually drop down below the tree line as we descend into the Susitna River valley.

The high peaks of the AK Range poke out of the clouds above the Susitna River. The shiny surface is water (aka overflow) oozing up from the river below and spreading out across the ice.

Trevor, Kat and Mike snowmachined 43 miles from Cantwell on Sat and met us with a wall tent, a yummy Thai curry dinner, Irish car bombs, and a fine box of wine.

Kat worked hard to shovel the sugary snow from the tent.

Fernie rested in Tina's bag after a long day on the trail and watched us fumble with the tent.

Trevor played beautiful music until the wee hours of the morning. He also brought a small bongo drum to entertain us.
Tina's first priority Sunday morning was to make coffee from the snow we melted on the woodstove. It was almost "sauna" like in the tent at times.

The sleeping arrangement was very cozy. We looked like a bunch of sardines.

The last day was another great day of skiing. The rest of the gang hung out in camp and met up with us at the end of the day when we were a few miles from the truck.

OK--- A couple of miles of trail were nearly bare because the wind had blown the snow away during the winter. But this was less than 1 percent of the entire trail...the remainder was great.

The last few miles of the trip we had a view of Denali (20, 320 ft) soaring into the distant sky.

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