South Fork to South Addition

I originally thought we’d have a mellow long day. Then, our friends that were going to join us couldn’t anymore, and Jonathan asked if we could do a hard long day. After a few months of work being relentless, and coming off of a particularly challenging 3-4 week stint, my normal “heck yes!” response was replaced with “well, I suppose . . . .”

We settled on starting at South Fork and skiing back toward town. We went back and forth on whether to leave a car in the front range somewhere. I thought it prudent. Jonathan thought it a pain, and a threat to his desire to get real tired. I gave in, knowing that I could always call someone for a ride once we got back toward town (and knowing that I probably wouldn’t).

We rolled out of bed at 6a, but somehow didn’t start skiing until 8a. I relearned that Eagle River is always colder than Anchorage, and started wearing most of my layers.

(Jonathan took all the photos because, well, he’s been a lot better at remembering to do that lately than I have been, so all the photo credit goes to him.)

Working through Hunter Pass.
We saw 10 moose all at the bottom of Hunter Pass! Here’s the first one.
Some parts were a little sloggy. This is looking down into the Ship Creek drainage. We tried to stay high to avoid the brush for as long as we could.
But eventually we dove in and worked our way down through the trees. This part probably slowed us down the most. I’d be super curious to hear if there’s a quicker, less vegetated, route.
Not sure what the deal was, but this yellow helicopter was flying up and down Ship Creek a bunch throughout the day. I think ADF&G was doing moose surveys in the Anchorage bowl, but I don’t know if this was at all connected.
We eventually made it down to the creek and to the sunshine!!! Hooray! It feels so good to have spring arrive!
The ice seems to have shifted a lot recently, with the tracks of the last skiers to go through Ship Creek repeatedly heading straight into the water. In a number of spots, the water was dammed up and swirling around. I’m guessing that those dams break fairly regularly, sending a pulse of water downstream and changing the bridges.
Another spot where the previous skiers magically skied through the creek!
Heading up toward Indian Pass. We went through this area at the end of 2017 when we did Indian-to-Bird, and it never gets old. There are so many pretty peaks, and areas that I’d like to come back to explore.
I wasn’t so sure that Ship Pass would be safe. We’d had significant whumpfing throughout the day. But we’d also seen a lot of slopes blown almost bare. We went up to get a closer look, and discovered tracks from skiers that maybe had come down the previous day.
The Pass turned out to be not awesome. We had our choice: a deep wallow (hard even following the downtracks from the day before) or steep frozen tundra sans crampons. We tried to find the sweet spot in between.
Whew! We made it to the top of Ship Pass just at sunset. You can’t tell, but I’m smiling because it’s all downhill from here. I shouldn’t have been . . . the sastrugi made for a challenging descent, my toes started to freeze, and I got generally unhappy.
But then we made it down to the nice soft snow at the base of the Hidden Lake Trail. I started having fun again and stopped talking about calling for a ride, knowing that all we had to do now was ski. Going down Powerline felt like flying!
I’d never connected Glen Alps to home in the winter before. It was pretty neat. We went down Powerline, to Gas Line, to Spencer, to Rovers, to the Tour Trail, to APU trails, and eventually to Chester Creek.
We had the potential bail out of stopping in Airport Heights at Jonathan’s house. But, at this point it started snowing HUGE snowflakes and with no wind. It was so pretty. And, Bella was at home, probably worrying where I was, so I didn’t want to leave her to sleep on the living room couch all alone. It was good motivation to keep going.
Home! The most satisfying part of this trip for me was skiing from the mountains back to the neighborhood. I had my doubts at the top of Ship Pass when I was tired from being scared, but once we got back into good snow and then onto fast trails, it was great to keep going. In addition to being a fun backyard adventure, Jonathan had his wish granted: we definitely got tired!

Here’s our route, very roughly drawn:

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