We exceeded our expectations for our Fairbanks holiday training week by squeezing in a third overnight trip, this time into the Colorado Creek Cabin on the western edge of the White Mountains Recreation Area. Our friends warned us that this trail was "boring" compared to other routes in the Whites, but it was new ground for us, and was also one of the only cabins available at the last minute during the New Year's weekend. So we booked Sunday night and set out for our solo trip, just the two of us. We're both pretty good at the winter travel thing, but relatively new to cabin living — gathering deadfall, chopping wood, stoking a wood stove, melting snow, cooking a real dinner that isn't just candy bars. I was honestly more nervous about managing this aspect than I was about the fourteen-mile trek in.
The temperature at the low-lying trailhead, milepost 57 of the Elliot Highway, was a balmy 5 degrees above zero. Someone asked me about this the other day, and yes, I am still referring to the Fahrenheit temperature scale (So -15˚C). It's interesting when you arrive to the cold shock of 39 below zero (-39.4˚C) and freeze your toes during a drive to the store — the internal heat gauge almost instantly resets and suddenly anything warmer kinda feels "warm," whether you're from Interior Alaska or coastal California. We were so toasty that I set out with my minimal layers of a shell coat, single fleece, thin hat, no gloves and the pole pogies pushed down to allow me to vent heat through my bare hands.