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Wesley`s wanders

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Alaska 2008 Days 21--22

October 23rd 2008 7:44 pm
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Sat Aug 30 day 21

We drove on down the Parks highway this morning,stopping in the town of Wasilla which is the headquarters of the Iditarod Sled Dog race. Ramy Reddington,son of the late Joe Reddington who was the founder of the race,was there with a team of 8 alaskan huskies. He was giving sled dog rides on a wheeled cart. Dad happily paid the $10 fee and was treated to an exhilarating ride! The team of 8 powerful dogs pulled the cart around a quarter mile circular track. Dad remarked that their power was AMAZING! He said that the ride was incredibly fast and he really had to hang on to the seat! (see the video on my page) This was Dad`s first actual dogsled ride and it was a great experience. THANKS RAMY!!!
We continued on thru the city of Anchorage then drove past Cook Inlet on the Seward Highway. The afternoon was sunny and warm and the views here were just superb! The waters of Cook Inlet were dazzlingly blue-green and majestic partially snowcapped peaks rose above them. Dad and I found a very nice bike path here and he gave me a walk along it for 3 miles . The path followed along Cook Inlet and Dad remarked that it had to be one of the world`s nicer bike paths! We arrived at the homestead of a friend who lives near Sterling on the Kenai Peninsula late in the day and stayed at a nice cabin there.

Sun Aug 31 Day 22

We drove on down to Homer this morning. Homer sits on a spit of land that juts out into Cook Inlet and thus is quite a scenic little town! Unfortunately it had started to rain and the weather was thus on the dreary side. Upon reaching Homer,Dad decided to explore the East End Road which travels along Kachemak Bay. He stopped to find a geocache hidden here and then we drove on out the road. It was rather misty and cloudy but we did catch some glimpses of Kachemak Bay far below us. Dad remarked that this must be a stunning drive in sunny,clear weather!
Later in the afternoon,we hiked a nice long bike path that ran for several miles out into Cook Inlet on the Homer Spit. There were several old wooden fishing vessels docked in the area and we explored them a bit as well as the rusting remains of an old city bus that was there for some strange reason. The clouds and rain cleared just a bit as we were concluding our hike and Dad got some nice photos of a rainbow above Cook Inlet.


Alaska 2008 Days 23--24

November 2nd 2008 12:21 pm
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Mon Sept 1 Day 23

Dad and I had an exciting day today hiking in the Skilak Lake recreation area which is located in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We spent a few hours hiking the 7 Lakes trail which starts at Engineer Lake and travels thru secluded forest to end at Kelly Lake some 4 miles distant. Along the way,the trail passes Hidden Lake and Hikers Lake. While hiking this trail, Dad and I were traveling thru silent remote forest. It was an excellent wilderness retreat for us both. We had to retrace our steps upon reaching Kelly Lake and hike back again,so we had approximately an 8 mile hike total on this trail. Dad and I took the spur trail back to Hidden Lake and Dad was brave (or foolish) enough to take a brief,chilly swim here. Except for people in the campgrounds at each end,we met only 1 other hiker and her dog on this trail today. The 7 Lakes trail has several secluded spots deep in the silent forest that Dad noticed as potential future overnite campsites!
After finishing the 7 Lakes trail late in the afternoon,we drove the Skilak Loop road to the Skilak Lookout trail. This trail climbs high into the mountains above the huge expanse of Skilak Lake and provides excellent views. There was a gusty,cool wind in the upper elevations as well as sections of trail that traversed THICK brush. We were a tad concerned about possibly surprising a bear here!

Tuesday Sept 2 Day 24

We left our friend`s homestead near Sterling this morning where we had been staying in a cabin for the past 3 nights. Her dogs have a page on Dogster,just key in Tori and Sterling,Alaska for a search. Today was mainly a travel day. We drove around Cook Inlet again,rain showers ended after we left the Sterling Highway and passed Summit Lake headed out along the Seward Highway. Dad and I did some short hikes along Cook Inlet,although it was quite windy. We traveled the Glenn Highway up to Tok in the afternoon,enjoying a lunch stop here with sweeping views into the valley near the Chugach Mts. We arrived in Tok late in the day and treated ourselves to a motel stay here,one of the few we used on the entire trip.


Alaska 2008 Days 25---26

November 3rd 2008 7:16 pm
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Wed Sept 3 Day 25

We drove the Taylor Highway from the Alaska highway after leaving Tok early this morning. The Taylor highway traverses a lonely,scenic route along the tops of mountain ridges and provides sweeping views all along its route. It travels over barren tundra,so there are few trees to block any views. About 96 miles after departing the Alaska highway, we reached the small town of Chicken. This is a true pioneer Alaskan town of wooden cabins and old mining claims. Dad and I explored here for a bit then pressed on towards the Alaska/Canada border. Dad parked about a mile short of the border customs station and gave me a walk along a windswept trail that was marked by rock cairns as it traversed the barren tundra. The trail climbed a rock dome above the actual international border and we could look down upon the customs station below. The views from up here were awesome! Dad and I informally crossed the actual border here,marked by a metal pylon.
We travelled the rest of the way into Dawson via this road also known as the "Top of the World Highway'. We stayed at the campground just across the Yukon River from Dawson tonight. This is the same campground used by Quest mushers during the Yukon Quest race.

Thurs Sept 4 Day 26

Dad and I took the ferry across the Yukon River early this morning and explored the town of Dawson for a few hours. There is a nice hiking trail along the Yukon River on Front Street. The buildings in Dawson are constructed of wood and many are painted in bright colors of purple,yellow,blue etc. Midnight Dome is a high mountain overlooking Dawson and we drove up the road that leads to its top. We had excellent views up here of the tiny town of Dawson beside the mighty expanse of the Yukon River.
We continued south down the Klondike Highway from Dawson and hiked down the trail to the 5 Finger Rapids near Carmacks. The "fingers" are actually large rock islands in the Yukon River that create dangerous rapids for vessels navigating the Yukon River. Blasting work was done earlier in the 20th century to widen the channels and tame the rapids. The sun was out and it was pleasantly warm. Dad and I enjoyed this short hike and the scenic views of the Yukon River.
Late in the day, we departed the Klondike Highway and started up the Campbell highway. Dad took this route because he wanted to explore the North Canol road,a rugged route into pristine wilderness. We stopped at the Drury Creek campground tonight a short distance down the Campbell highway.


Alaska 2008 Days 27--28

November 7th 2008 9:34 pm
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Fri Sept 5 Day 27

Today we explored the North Canol Road. This is a remote,rugged,mud and dirt road that is not much more than a lane and a half wide! It was built during WW 2 to supply oil from Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories of Canada to Whitehorse in the Yukon where it could be delivered "Outside". To reach the North Canol Road,we traveled the Campbell highway to the town of Ross River where dad had to drive his car onto a barge which transported us across the Pelly River. Once we started driving up this road, we found the going to be quite ROUGH! There were sections where the mud was so deep that the car slid around in it. Dad was grateful for his subaru`s all wheel drive! The main thing that dad noted about the canol road though, was the STEEP hills. It was like driving on a roller coaster. You would climb up a steep hill,crest,then plummet down the other side. Your vision was obscured until you actually reached the summit so one couldn`t tell if oncoming traffic was present or not. Rather harrowing,as large trucks sped along this road seemingly without a care! We drove about 38 miles up the Canol road before starting back down as we didn`t want to be stranded by missing the last ferry crossing of the day. We did see an old rusting remain of a US Army truck and we crossed some creeks on rickety wooden bridges. It was quite an adventure!
We resumed our travels along the Campbell highway,stopping at the Simpson Lake campground tonight. Dad pitched our tent beside a scenic lake.

Sat Sept 6 Day 28

We exited the Campbell Highway this morning and stopped in the town of Watson Lake. Dad gave me a nice walk around Wye Lake on a nice hiking path. He discovered this lake last year when his old Geo broke down and Smiley and he were forced to spend a day here waiting for repairs. We were here under more pleasant circumstances this time and the walk around the large lake was quite pleasant in the brisk morning sunshine.
Dad and I stopped again at the Liard River Hotsprings where dad swam and washed off several days of road grime. We camped at summit Lake on the Alaska Highway tonite. The campground was closed,so we parked outside the gate and Dad carried our things into the campground.


Conclusion of 2008 Alaska trip

November 12th 2008 7:14 am
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After leaving our Summit Lake campsite,we started back down the Alaska Highway stopping in Ft Nelson where dad gave his subaru a much needed wash. We had lunch beside a pleasant lake a short distance off the Alaska Highway,then left the road for good at Dawson Creek. We were in the final stages of our trip at this point,traveling back down thru Alberta towards the "lower 48". In southern Alberta we stayed in the Days Inn in Lethbridge. Dad likes this motel as it has a 2 story high waterslide. You shoot down the slide at breakneck speed and plunge into the pool which breaks your fall. It`s super FAST and FUN! This motel is also near the Indian Battle Park which has miles of scenic hiking trails which follow folded hills beside the Oldman River.

Back in the Lower 48 again, we hiked in the Badlands of South Dakota--a favourite hiking spot of Dad`s from past trips. Our trip ended on Sunday Sept 14,a sunny,warm day as we arrived back in Phila. Dad and I plan on doing the Grand Canyon and California next Sept---Oct.


Backpacking the Delaware Water Gap

December 6th 2008 2:02 pm
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Backpacking Delaware Water Gap
Category: Travel and Places

Dad and I just got back from a 5 day hike in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in northern New Jersey. We started last Monday,Dec 1 and finished up yesterday,Friday Dec 5. The weather was seasonably cool,with nights in the 20..s and days in the mid to upper 30..s. There was no snow---unfortunately---but we did enjoy some bursts of flurries at times. Dense fog on the Appalacian Trail on night 1 of the trip made hiking rather difficult as Dad..s headlamp could barely penatrate the fog to find the white blazes which marked the trail. We were forced to set up camp earlier than we had planned on the first night. Bright sunshine on day 1 had given way to a chilly rain late in the day then the fog as we set up camp.

Tues Dec 2 was bright and sunny as we exited the Appalacian Trail and hiked some secluded woods roads. By doing this, we were able to make some long loop hikes and eventually rejoin the Appalacian Trail. We hiked thru Van Campen..s Glen which is a rugged canyon area thru which Van Campen..s Brook flows. Dad and I carefully hiked out onto a rock ledge on the canyon wall and viewed the brook gurgling noisly thru the canyon beneath us. We then hiked some woods trails which took us past fields and streams winding up at Buttermilk Falls late in the afternoon as darkness was falling. I pulled Dad along these woods trails at a nice clip,attached to his backpack by my long flexi leash. It was sort of like snowless mushing or canicross! Buttermilk Falls is approximately 90 feet high and the water was cascading over it in full force. We had to ascend a narrow wooden stairway up the side of the cliff to reach the top of the falls and continue on up the Buttermilk Falls trail. This was rather nervewracking in the dark,the way up the STEEP staircaise lit only by dad..s headlamp. We camped along the Buttermilk Falls trail on night 2. It was a pleasantly clear night and the stars and a crescent moon were out.

Wed Dec 3 found us hiking another woods road which eventually looped back around to the Appalacian Trail. The day was bright and sunny. We hiked to the top of a mountain on the Appalacian Trail and emerged onto a treeless expanse known as a bald. There were 360 degree panoramic views up here,it was stunning! We continued hiking the trail and camped near Hemlock Pond on night 3. Hemlock Pond is really the size of a small lake.

Thurs Dec 4 dawned with cloudy skies and some light flurries. We hiked some more woods trails passing thru Millbrook Village---a collection of rustic homes,barns and stores from the mid 1800..s. There was even a 1 room schoolhouse here and an old cemetary. Some of the people buried here died as far back as 1845! We hiked back up to the Appalacian Trail and camped on it for our 4th and final night. Enroute to our campsite dad used his GPS to locate a hidden geocache by Catfish Pond,another mountain lake in the area.

Friday,Dec 5 began with some flurries,but the sun broke thru and dad was able to locate another geocache that had eluded him earlier in the hike on day 1. All throughout the 5 days of the hike there were gunshots reverbrating thru the silence of the woods,as this was week 1 of deer season. I had my bright red dogpack on,so no hunter was likely to mistake me for a deer! Dad will post some pictures from this hike shortly.


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Early winter day hike in the pocono mts.

December 17th 2008 7:50 am
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Hiking in the Pocono Mts
Current mood: relaxed
Category: Travel and Places

Dad and I took a day hike in the pocono mts of Pennsylvania yesterday. We traveled to state game lands 8 near Tannersville.Rain and sleet the night before left a coating on the trails in places. The day was overcast and cool. Dad used his GPS to find 2 geocaches hidden in the woods along the trails here. We hiked past a few partially frozen mountain lakes,the ice was WAY to thin to venture out onto however. Dad brought his tent along and set it up on a scenic knoll so that we could have our lunch out of the chill. The campstove was simering inside the tent as we ate and it was quite cozy! As we were hiking back to our car,evening drew on and the ski runs at the Camelback Ski area were brilliantly illuminated,quite a pretty sight. Driving back home, we ran into heavy snow showers along PA 33 and I-78 but we arrived home safely. Hope the poconos get some real snow soon so we can have another nice hike there!



First backpacking trip of 2009

January 14th 2009 4:00 pm
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Hello to all!
Dad and I took our first backpacking trip of the new year. It was just a short overnite hike in PA state game lands 38 near the Camelback Ski Area but it was exciting because they had SNOW there! It had snowed several days previously and where Philadelphia only got a dusting,the Pocono mts got between 4-5 inches. Freezing rain at the end of the storm coated the tree branches with sheets of ice. This caused many of the trees to sag down over the trails and Dad and I had to duck under or climb over the trees in spots,making for some challenging hiking. The snow was hard and crusty due to the icy rain as well. As day 1 was coming to a close,we could hear coyotes howling. Darkness was coming on,the stars were out and we were hiking along a peaceful snow covered trail---it was an awesome feeling!
Dad pitched our tent in a snow covered meadow for night 1 of this hike. It was about 9 degrees but winds were calm,so it really was not uncomfortable. Dad`s camp stove warmed the tent nicely as we had our supper! Later the moon rose over the frozen snow covered meadow and high clouds scattered the moonlight. It was peaceful and serene. During the night,Dad heard light footsteps from time to time. Upon exiting the tent on the morning of day 2,we both noticed a small circular depression in the snow next to the tent. Apparently a small animal---perhaps one of the howling coyotes of the night before---had snuggled up to the warmth of our tent. Day 2 of this hike was cloudy,but a bit warmer with temps near 20 degrees as we hiked the frozen snowy trails. All the trees were sheathed in glittering ice and dusted with snow. It wass a beautiful hike back to our car at the trailhead. As we neared the Camelback ski area,we could even watch the skiers glide down the mountain!

Hoping for many more hikes in 2009!


Late winter backpacking trip

March 6th 2009 8:19 am
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Friday, March 06, 2009
March Backpacking trip
Category: Travel and Places
Woofs to all my pals!
Dad and I just got back from a 5 day hike along the Appalacian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in NJ. It was one of our colder backpacking trips,by trips end,half the volume in Dad..s water bottles was solid ice!
The trip began on Sunday March 1. The day was mostly sunny and mild with only light snow in the morning that left a dusting. The real excitement weather wise happened overnite and the next day,Monday March 2. It snowed about an inch overnite but winds began to gust as dad was taking down the tent. We were camped on an exposed mountain ridge and thus were subject to the full force of the winds! Snow started back up as the morning wore on and the winds increased as well. At one point as dad stopped to put on my dog jacket,his hands froze up and he almost couldn..t get his gloves back on again! It was COLD!! Mid-day found us hiking past a closed YMCA camp and we found a wooden shack to shelter in as we had our lunch. Dad got his stove going and blocked the open entry with a beach umbrella (the place was used as storage for summer beach equipment as the cabin sat by a lake)thus sheilding us from the wind. From the warmth of this cabin, we could see whirlpools of fine powder snow being blown across the surface of the frozen lake. We resumed our hike and the snow soon stopped. We had about 3 or 4 inches total. The sun came out but the gusty winds continued all day. Dad found a spot in a secluded valley to set up our tent for night 2. There was a stream nearby so we had water for the night. We could hear the trees groan as the wind swayed them but dad placed our tent between several thick trees and there was little likelihood that a tree would fall on our tent!
Tuesday March 3 dawned sunny and the winds began to abate. Dad let me out of the tent in the morning as he was stuffing away his sleeping bag and I caught a scent of a deer and was off! I chased that deer for a long ways because I got a tad lost and was gone for almost an hour and a half! Dad later told me that he had called me for a long time then decided to have breakfast and take down the tent hoping that I would find my way back. I was reunited with dad as he was breaking camp! The day was just BEAUTIFUL with the sun glinting off the untracked snow. It was light and powdery and just a joy to hike thru. Dad recently purchased me a sledding harness, and I pulled him nicely along the trails thus making his backpacking easier! We hiked across an open bald with 360 degree views! Later we had lunch along a secluded woods road in the warm March sun. We saw nobody all the days that we were hiking and had the snowy winter wonderland all to ourselves! Late on day 3, we hiked past a frozen waterfall. It was a 90 ft high sheet of ice!
Day 4,March 4,we were hiking along a woods road and we saw coyote tracks in the snow. It was a wonderful winter hike and I will post pix and some videos shortly.
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Pocono hiking and geocaching

April 15th 2009 2:05 pm
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Dad was off yesterday,so he took me out for a fun day of hiking in Pennsylvania`s Pocono mts. I just love riding in Dad`s new Subaru because unlike the old Geo,he can power down the back window and I can hang my head(and sometimes half my body!) out and catch the cool breeze! It was a misty,rainy morning when we set out but the rain droplets in my fur didn`t deter me in the least.
We arrived at the trailhead near Camelback and the rain had stopped, it was just cloudy and cool. We had several fun hours just hiking the trails which led past 2 mountain lakes. Dad used his GPS to locate a hidden geocache in one area,but had no luck finding a cache in another area. All the more reason to come back and try to locate it again! The weather stayed cloudy and cool all day as we hiked. Dad set up his small day hiking tent in order to have lunch out of the chill. A burning camp stove just outside the tent door provided some additional warmth. I enjoyed all the new smells on the trails as well as the freedom of being able to pull unrestrained as Dad always uses my sledding harness when we hike. He likes me to "power" him along the trails!

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