I’m a couple days late on this and (gasp!), I’m doing one of these updates 2 months in a row (you may have noticed that those monthly updates have sorta fallen off in the last year or so). June was entirely Alaska adventures with work woven and laced between them (and by work I mean my dentistry work, not blogging work).
Adventure #1: A Grand Alaskan Road Trip With The #2 Latvian
In May I got a text from one of the ladies who came on the Socotra & Afghanistan tours I co-lead in March saying that she was coming to Alaska. The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect since I had blocked several days off my calendar for Chickenstock (which I ended up not going to) and that happened to be when she was coming up. So in one week we did a big road trip that included Denali National Park, the Denali Highway, Matanuska Glacier, Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park, Girdwood and several treks into Chugach State Park. If you’re wondering what #2 Latvian is all about, it’s is the name we gave to our token Latvian in Afghanistan after she had thought she may have been Noor’s first Latvian tourist.
Denali National Park
Morning one we set out on the drive to Denali from my house. In the end we opted to only do some of the hikes in the first 15 miles of the park before the Savage River cut-off and camped at Riley Creek since the weather didn’t look great deeper in the park. Don’t worry I will put together some blog posts finally on Denali National Park using info gathered on this trip and with my previous trips.
Side note: If anyone is looking for a Denali Road Lottery permit for September 13, 2019 please email me and I can put you in touch with a woman who wants to give hers away as she now cannot use it.
This was a new adventure, even for me. In all the years I’ve lived here (hint: all of them) I’d never driven the Denali Highway that connects Cantwell (on the Parks Highway) to Paxson (on the Richardson Highway). There are so many scenic places to stop off, hikes, perfect pull-offs for camping, and even a couple of lodges and maintained campgrounds along the way. Needless to say this won’t be my last time here and there is a post coming up on the Denali Highway Road Trip.
Of course my #2 Latvian wanted to get up on a glacier while she was in Alaska, so I returned to Matanuska Glacier since 2016 for the first time (I refused to go back out there after the family that owns the access road decided to slap everyone with a $100 entrance fee to the glacier they do not own, but they’ve finally decided to be reasonable again, I’m guessing after much backlash, and went back to charging $30 per person/$25 for Alaska residents for access). It has changed substantially (as expected) since my last visit in spring 2016 (right before they started the $100 fee thing).
Exit Glacier & Harding Ice Field Trek In Kenai Fjords National Park
After getting a night’s sleep back at my house we set south toward Seward to get #2 Latvian into Kenai Fjords National Park, which its only real road access is to Exit Glacier. Much to #2 Latvian’s dismay, the hike was not a 4 mile each way hike on glacier (though I can see now why people may think it is). It wasn’t a great day and only got a few brief glimpses of the glacier and ice fields since we were essentially in a cloud all day.
Portage Lake & Byron Glacier
On our way back north we stopped in to Portage Lake to see the remnants of the glacier and did the short trek to Byron Glacier to see the remnants of it as well. There is sometimes an ice cave at Byron Glacier and #2 Latvian really wanted to see one, so I thought this might be a good opportunity. We did find the ice cave, it was still in the same place as when I shot it in late 2017 and early 2018, though it was horribly unstable. A photo standing in front of it was the closest we were getting to it that day. I’ve never written a post about Byron Glacier despite having been there several times because it’s extremely easy to access.
Virgin Creek Falls In Girdwood
One of my favorite spots in Alaska to photograph people because of the perfect lighting created by the forest around it and being gorgeous, plus it only takes about 4 minutes of walking to get there.
Symphony & Eagle Lakes
Easily one of my favorite hikes in southcentral Alaska, and a stone’s throw from my house I figured this was a must-see for #2 Latvian since she wanted to get up into Chugach State Park. I think I will finally be putting together a hiking trip report for this trek since I have done it so many times I’ve lost count.
Twin Peaks Trail At Eklutna Lake
Another fave in Chugach State Park. This was our final adventure on #2 Latvian’s trip, but thanks to not-so-great weather she didn’t get the amazing views from the top because we were in a cloud…
Adventure #2: Hiking The Snowbird-Bomber Traverse In Hatcher Pass
So on the final weekend of June Tay and I decided to go to Snowbird Hut. Once we got up there Friday night/Saturday morning we decided to continue on and do the traverse to Bomber Glacier and return via Reed Lakes (last year I did the Mint-Bomber Traverse which is a shorter variation of the traverse connecting Mint Hut to Bomber Glacier via the Backdoor Gap). Friday night we started at 8pm (after work) and arrived to Snowbird Hut by about 1am. I’d never actually been up to Snowbird Glacier or Hut before (I totally recommend it now). We woke up to epic panoramic views and decided to spend the weekend completing the entire traverse.
Saturday took us down past Snowbird Lake and into a wide open valley where we had to traverse a pretty raging creek, cross hours upon hours of boulder fields and even about an hour of bushwhacking to finally reach and set up camp near Bomber Hut (we didn’t spend the night in there, and were glad we didn’t after hearing from a family that stayed over there that it was about 125ºF inside of it that night). In all we hiked from 12 noon to 10pm on Saturday, without legitimately breaking until we set up camp for the night.
Sunday at least was a familiar day for me seeing that I have traveled across Bomber Glacier, up and over Bomber Pass to Reed Lakes and back to the trailhead. The only variation was that we trekked up the western side of the valley to Bomber Glacier rather than the eastern side as I had before.
Everything Else In June
The rest of the month I spent working, taking short evening hikes and trail running after work (otherwise known as Nicole getting in shape to hike hundreds of miles in Tajikistan this fall), getting screwed over by a “influencer marketing agency” who refused to pay for a portion of work they contracted me for because allegedly “the client decided that they no longer wanted that portion of the project from the contracted creators anymore” of course conveniently after I had completed and submitted it (after them bumrushing me to finish the project long before the deadline) for the final approvals, and planning some of the treks I want to do in Tajikistan in August and September.
Oh and before I forget I crossed a huge milestone… I for the first time ever broke 100,000 page views in one month on this website this month!
What I Wrote In June
- Shahr e Gholghola: Afghanistan’s City Of Screams
- How To Get A Visa For Socotra (Yemen)
- Crossing The Iran-Iraq Border At Tamarchin/Haji Omaran
- Crossing The Afghanistan-Iran Border At Islam Qala/Dogharoun
- 10 Unique & Cheap Places To Travel This Summer
- Tajikistan: Jizeu Trek, How To Get To Lake Sarez, How To Get To Khafrazdara Valley, Crossing Chimtarga Pass, Trekking The Haft Kul
- Alaska: The Mint-Bomber Traverse Hike
- Oman: One Week In Oman Road Trip Itinerary
What To Expect To See In July
So, I’m not gonna lie: I am extremely behind on content. Things have been too hectic and I’ve been slammed at work (plus, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit inside on nice days during my free time typing… sorry, enjoying life is far more important than blogging to me), so be surprised if this all makes it out this month but I was planning to get out posts on Alaska, Iran, Iraq and Socotra. I’ll be spending July when not at work, getting physically ready for all the trekking coming up this fall (I think at least it’s safe to say my new hiking boots are broke in!).