17 forum posts
I originally proposed a trip to Alaska to my favorite backpacking companions almost two years ago, but they've all had various reasons they couldn't go. Suddenly, in June, I thought, "I've been backpacking solo in California for two years now. Surely I can handle this trip by myself!" Within a few days, my trip was booked.
As a solo female who isn't a triathlete and had never been to Alaska before, I was careful not to bite off more than I could chew. I researched the system of public fee cabins and chose one that is easily accessible on a well-traveled route: Caribou Creek Cabin on the Resurrection Pass Trail, just 7 miles from the north trailhead on a gentle incline.
No sooner had I booked my trip than I began to wonder what the hell I was thinking. In particular, I began to dread the possibility of an encounter with grizzlies (see http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/45799.html), as we only have black bears here in California. But advice from fellow Trailspace members and some research at the library helped me prepare. I also created a Listmania list on Amazon.com with some essential items:
Now properly educated and equipped, the time for my trip finally arrived. After one night in Anchorage, I drove down to the old gold rush town of Hope on the Kenai Peninsula, with a stop at the Alyeska Tram along the way. The Seaview in Hope is highly recommended for backpackers; they offer campsites and rustic cabins very inexpensively:
Considering how much I worried about scary beasts, my hike was totally uneventful. I made plenty of noise, and consequently saw no megafauna at all. In fact, the only mammal I encountered was a porcupine who insisted on gnawing loudly on the underside of the cabin at the crack of dawn, impervious to my stomping and scolding.
I had two nights at the cabin and considered a day hike further south, but ultimately decided to give myself a day of reading, yoga, and general decadence, interrupted only by the necessary chores of purifying water and cutting firewood. I'm not really much of an explorer; I just like to *be* in the backcountry and bask in the peace and quiet.
But I'll admit I was a little bit disappointed not to see a grizzly in its natural habitat, so I made do with a trip to the Alaska Zoo when I returned to Anchorage. Compared to the depressing urban zoos in the Bay Area, the Alaska Zoo is wonderfully green and natural. It was late afternoon, and most of the animals were napping lazily, including the dreaded grizzlies whom I'd previously imagined teaching me a violent lesson about venturing into the Alaska backcountry alone.
Special thanks to f_klock who recommended the SPOT messenger, a GPS transponder that sends status messages to loved ones who might otherwise worry. It's a little bulky compared to most GPS receivers, but it's inexpensive and totally worth it. http://www.findmespot.com/
And now, here are my photos (and a few short videos too):
Also, check out Flickr's relatively new geotagging feature: