Saturday, March 02, 2013

Headed north

On Friday I spent more than four hours arranging Beat's first two post office drop bags beyond McGrath, along with $287 on mostly junk food (some of this food was for me.) It was a chore, but a great sign, because it means he's becoming more committed to the full trek to Nome. I received a call from him at 10 a.m. Saturday morning from Salmon Camp, which is about 12 miles outside of Nikolai. He said he was enjoying a beautiful morning, with a bright pink sunrise over Denali, no wind, and temperatures near 10 below on the Farewell Burn. However, he's feeling extra sleepy this morning and said the trail has been rough across the burn, with snowmachine moguls and bumps. The tendon pain in his toe has started to level off, but now his hip flexor is giving him grief. "It's like my body keeps trying new things to see what will get me to stop," he said. But he sounds as determined as ever, assuring me that McGrath "is just a checkpoint." I expect he'll reach that milestone checkpoint by Sunday evening.

I was meeting with friends for dinner in the evening but couldn't resist a quick jaunt up Lazy Mountain on the way to their house in Butte. Lazy Mountain is a stairmaster of a hike, gaining 3,200 feet in about two miles. The trail is generally packed by other hikers, but the top 3/4 mile is always wind-drifted and results in lots of postholing without snowshoes, which I can't wear because the lower trail is too slick (I wore microspikes. With these icy conditions I'd even prefer crampons.) So it's a grunt, but I know I can do the out-and-back to the 3,700-foot peak in two hours on a strong day, which I was having. It snowed on and off all day and the mountain was enveloped in fog, but I caught about a ten-minute window when the clouds cleared out enough to reveal sunshine. It was a great hike — colder than it looks from the photo, but I was working so hard on the climb I couldn't wear more layers despite the icy breeze.

In about two hours I'm leaving Palmer to head north for a three-day bike tour on the Denali Highway. I'm traveling with the same three women who I toured the Dawson Trail with last winter, so I'm excited. Girls, snow bikes, and backcountry cabin/lodge debauchery is always a recipe for good times. Our trip runs Sunday to Tuesday and I expect I won't have any online access or even much cell phone access during that time. I'm bummed I might miss Beat's arrival in McGrath, but I'm hoping he'll be well on his way toward Nome by the time I return. Updates will be sparse during this time, but I'll be tracking my own trip so you can follow our progress at this link:

Jill's SPOT page

If I get out any mid-trip text updates at all it will likely be to my Twitter account.

Beat will be in a black hole of communication himself, but there may be snippets of information about his whereabouts at these links:

ITI Facebook updates

Nome Leaderboard

Leaderboard graphic


  1. I have such fond memories of McGrath. sigh. would be fun to see it in winter.

  2. Have a great trip. I've been totally hooked on your updates and the ITI Facebook posts.

  3. Jill...enjoy your sojourn away from being plugged in. Get connected to nature while you're off line.


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