The gang goes North: Part 9- Inside Passage

August 2-10

Last post of the our great adventure. A month late to writing it, as life seemed to pick up pace and complexity as we left the wilderness and camping.

On down the Haines Highway, fog enveloped us as we crested the highway pass at 3000 ft. It was a lonely, lovely highway. It seemed untouched, undisturbed, forgotten. The road pulled us back south into British Columbia from the Yukon, and we bid the northern territory goodbye, unsure if we’d ever step foot there again.

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The gang goes North: Part 8- Girdwood, Valdez, McCarthy/Kennecott and the Yukon

July 26-August 1

Glass on Kenai Lake awaited us the next morning. We’d decided to make our return trip back up the Kenai Peninsula that day, but had some time to spare.

Blowing up the kayak, we floated out onto the water. About a mile wide, and about 22 miles long, with two deep bends, I wanted to get to the east side, across the skinny way. A mountain cascade poured into the lake from beneath a tunnel of small trees, and we traveled to the mouth of it and relaxed for a half hour or so, in silence, save for the stream. Jamie and Charley took a nap. I couldn’t stop staring up at the long bowl that we floated within.

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The gang goes North: Part 7.2- Kenai Peninsula (West side)

July 21-25

Not shockingly, we left Seward the morning of the 21st in the midst of a rain shower. Heading north along the Seward Highway, then splitting off west along the Sterling Highway, our surroundings changed from mountainous to rolling forested flats. Homer sits at the end of the Sterling Highway, and “The Spit” stretches a handful of miles out into Kachemak Bay, only few hundred yards wide and marks the end of the road- as far south on the Peninsula as a car can take you.

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The gang goes North: Part 7.1- Kenai Peninsula (Seward)

July 17-20

Rain again. We slept in at Porcupine Campground in Hope, hoping it would dry up outside before we started packing. It didn’t.

Jamie finalized a blog post as we huddled under our awning. We’d be heading further south in the Kenai, to Seward, so we grabbed coffee at Kayak Coffee Co in town to give our bodies a little extra fuel. I spotted a guy wearing a Bills hat under a pavilion beside the coffee shop’s parking lot.

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The gang goes North: Part 6- Turnagain Arm- Girdwood, Portage Valley, Hope

July 11-16

Oatmeal, yogurt, coffee. It’s amazing that we haven’t tired of the routine yet.

We left Eagle River campground and made our way back into Anchorage for a few more items we’d decided were necessary. I picked up a new air compressor for the tires, as we’d given ours away to a poor soul on the Old Denali Highway with 2 hissing wheels and a handful of miles to get to a service center. Jamie popped into the grocery for a couple more things, and we wasted no time getting out of Anchorage, heading eastward along the Turnagain Arm.

A long, skinny waterway branching east from the Cook Inlet about 40 miles, Turnagain Arm is a a sight. Massive heaps of rock rise up from the mudflats of the Arm on both sides, and the extreme tidal changes give birth to bore tides- one of only a couple places on the planet where you can see the phenomenon. One long, subtle wave pushes massive amounts of water from Cook Inlet into the Arm. Some folks will surf the wave for miles, as it gently ushers them east beneath the towering mountains.

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The gang goes North: Part 3.1

June 24-29

The Alaska Highway: Dawson Creek, BC to Whitehorse, YT

“Name’s Jim Connors,” said our neighbor at the Dawson Creek Mile ‘0’ Campground. The rolling hills and farms surrounding us reminded me of Upstate NY. It felt familiar, though so far away from home. 

An older gentleman with a hardened smile, Jim gave us the skinny on his upcoming northern journey. His beat up wood-paneled Chevy pickup hailed from Wyoming, as did Jim.

“I get 9 miles to the gallon in that thing, and the front tank doesn’t play nice with ethanol. I’ll try to keep the back tank good and full, but that’ll mean stopping every 120 miles or so.”

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The gang goes North: Part 2

June 19-23

Passports, check. Rabies vaccination card, check.

“Anything to declare?”

“Just a couple beers left in the fridge, two cans of beer spray. Some raw meat, a couple multi tools and a hatchet.”

The border agent went through their questions methodically, making sure we didn’t slip up about our doings in Canada.

From Camano Island in northern Washington, we’d be making our way onto the Sea-to-Sky highway north of Vancouver.

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The gang goes North: Part 1

June 14-18

Archie was all stocked up the morning of the 14th. We were anxious as hell to get going. It seems that the longer you wait to set out on a trip like this, the more things pop into your head. “Maybe we need to get another basin for the camp kitchen. Do we have enough fire starters? Is my sock stockpile enough?” Sometimes you just got to get going.

It’s a big trip, no doubt. 7 weeks through Canadian and Alaskan wilderness, camping and living out of the car. But the anticipation can breed stress, and the best remedy is: to go. It’s not a regular vacation. It will be gritty, tough, stressful, spiritual, soul-filling, rewarding. A premium moment in our lives. We’re going to learn, grow, persevere, improvise. But staying present is the goal. We are here.

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Big Views: Rockies, Cascades

After a handful of shifts at Harborview, we geared up for another trip. We’d tried a trip to glacier national park two years ago, but our plans were thwarted by a September snowstorm bringing 5 feet of snow to Montana’s Rocky Mountains. 

With a quick check of the forecast, we were all systems go for a second chance at seeing the Park. Temps would be in the 50’s during the day, with ample sunshine.

Charley stayed back for this trip, unable to join us due to national park restrictions.

Everything out west is a drive. You just get used to it. And with the stunning landscapes offered out in the great northwest expanse, the reward is worth the cost.

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