Tuesday, March 27, 2012

hatchers pass, gold mint trail/independence mine

spent the day out at hatchers pass. karen and tanya joined me. i woulda easily backed out as my thighs are a bit sore and it was looking cloudy out. why travel all the way out there if it ain't a blue bird day. luckily, we decided to head over. it was sunny for the first few hours we were out there. i love gold mint trail. have never gone over there in the winter though. amazing how high the snow was. after we'd hit the end of the trail that was packed down we headed up to independence mine. another place i've always wanted to hit in the winter. things just always look so different coated in white. above is blossom and i at the mine.have been watching a movie as i loaded the pictures. "winters bone". looks good so far, will finish it up when i'm done with this blog entry.
we were laughing as all the signs just say "no". too much snow to see no what? just no!!still have the pictures from today with the big camera to load from out at the mine. will add those in later. what to do tomorrow. i know i got some errands to run. post office at least. got get all the last bits of winter in when we have good light before the sun makes totally post holing of our trails. chase winter til spring is really here. usually you can park right up by the mines but in the winter the road is closed off and it becomes a cross country ski/snowshoe/sledding haven. around the area several snow machines can be heard. we walked up the ski trail. the snow was so bright that it was almost tough to see where the trail was. sunglasses for sure. i'd guess it was 3/4mile to 1 mile up the trail to the mines then we circled through the old buildings and back around. very cool to see the historic site with all that snow. in the old days when the mine was active, they stayed there year round. i know this has been a heavier snow fall than usual, but no doubt it was a rough life up there for the time. we are sure lucky to have all the amazing gear that we have. fleece and windproof gear, gortex...we have it easy compared to generations past. they keep the old buildings up, at least some of them, some as you can see are just eroding away. time takes it's toll. the matanuska valley lies below. rio stayed home for this one. she's had a good week of fairly long hikes. she does prefer winter hikes. she gets overheated in the summers as do we all. amazing how hot 70 degrees feels up here. we brought that up today. rio just doesn't tolerate that heat. she is 7 now and almost 120 pounds so i try and watch out for her joints. she was happy to see us after being home with the cats for almost 5 hours.not too many people up there today. well, there was an avalanche class in the main building that holds the museum so we didn't really see any of those people. as you can see it got cloudy by the time we got up here. the road was really clear heading up though, which i was quite surprised at. arc angel road was deep. no way to drive on that one. lots of people ski that one. would be a long haul to the trailhead i imagine. i've walked it before, at least part of it. that road can be pretty crappy in the summer months. i imagine it will be bad this summer what with all the snow. the runoff will pock the hell out of it. tanya just had her iphone. i think she thought the dogs would cause her more trouble than they did. on gold mint we ran into a big group from a local grammer school doing survival training, but they were at the front end of the trail and after that we saw nobody. they did a similar thing in ketchikan. it's part of the school ciriculum. i know in ketchikan they had some training stuff in grammer school and then an overnight survival thing in jr high. the kids got a coffee can and we allowed to fill it with what they'd need for thier overnight survival. these kids were learning how to build snow caves and fires. it's a great idea. you never know when that information could end up saving a life. some kids pick up these sorts of skills from parents, but many don't. in this state it doesn't take much to be in a life or death situation. the more knowledge that is out there the better. maybe this movie, "hunger games" will get kids wanting to learn more of those sorts of skills. may have to read those books. behind on my book reading as it is. some poor guy got run over the other night. felt terrible for the poor driver that ran him over. the guy was laying down in the middle of the street. the first car swerved to miss him and the second car probably didn't have a chance to swerve. he said it just looked like a big sack in the road. i imagine he must feel horrible. not sure why the guy was in the middle of the street. alcohol is the most obvious answer. i've seen people laying in the street drunk. alcohol is a big issue in these communities. i like a drink on occasion, but my work experience does tend to give me sobering perspective on the overuse of it. it's hard for me to say no to legalizing marijuana when i see how much more damage alcohol causes. people just have zero coping skills and alcohol is an easy fix for many problems initially at least i guess. this may help see why the trail was hard to see up there. you need the sunlight to differentiate between the different whites. tanya and karen out enjoying the day. the roads are crap in anchorage anyway as well. would be easy for a person to be less easy to see in the middle of the road with all the slush and ponds. there was much less snow out in palmer i noticed. the houses had little snow on the roofs and the farmlands you could actually see soil, frozen soil no doubt, but still soil. we had a ptarmigan party out on gold mint today. boddhi had a blast flushing them out. i think tanya tried to stop him until she realized he had on his muzzle so he had no way of hurting those birds even if he caught up. he got pretty beat up just making chase through the deep snow. i'm sure he is sleeping well tonight. at one point i swear like 10 birds came flying out. tried to get some mid-air flight,but it's tough out there.
above are a couple ptarmigans against the dark trees. below you have to look harder to see the two birds.this guy was sitting still...at least for long enough to take pictures. tanya was our spotter originally. she heard one and was able to hone in on it! boddhi helped with the rest i think. they do look beautiful with thier winter white!! not sure i've gotten lucky enough to see them in thier winter plume! this was another interesting sight. at first glance this just looks like another large nest in the tree.but it really was a porcupine up there napping. no great pictures of it, but i took loads even though we had some distance on it. just was so surprised to see it sleeping up there like that. lucky for us the boys, boddhi and indy, didn't spot that thing. i wasn't about to go in closer for a look and tanya already had to get quills removed this summer from the dogs, so i'm sure she was happy the boys didn't spot the porcupine. hopefully, karen got a better shot or was able to do more with it on her computer program. very fun sightings though!this is probably my best bird in flight shot.got buggery canker sores in my mouth. hate those things. i think my nice ice bug boots are wearing out inside. will need to see if the shoe repair place can help both of my pairs of bugs for next winter. they are the best winter boots i've ever had. i wear them alot though so i can't expect them to last forever. i have a back up pair, but would be great to hang onto those. my one heel was a bit sore walking today. my socks have been wearing out in that spot as well. my feet just are never cold in those boots. fabulous!!boddhi gave us the heads up on this guy as well. tanya made sure they didn't get the opportunity to meet though.we could see those spots for antlers, but this moose's belly seemed overly large and we couldn't see any boy bits dangling down. we started to think it was the rarely sighted moose with ambiguous genitalia. i mean if it happens in humans it must happen for a rare moose, right? when i got it on the computer though i did notice some man bits so it's a male moose. i'm sure those antlers are big enough to compensate for his smaller nether regions. i mean with huge antlers, who even checks the other gear? no not a shim, but a him. there is a proposal on the ballot to make it illegal to discriminate in housing/jobs for those who are gay, transgendered or cross dressers. hopefully it passes this time and the mayor doesn't veto it again. we really need a new mayor. i'm not a fan. love the ad i was hearing today. it mentions his veto of this and then mentions that he told a homeless guy to clean up before he talks with him or some such thing. he's the type of conservative that makes conservatives look bad. put the camera into a black and white mode for a few, then tanya spotted this ptarmigan and i forgot to take it out of black and white...though really they turned out fine. i mean the bird is black and white and the snow is white so the only difference would be that the branches would have been more brown looking.they really are beautiful in the white. i took several of the bird, but really they were all pretty much the exact same picture!see, boy bits...is a fairly large moose it seems to me.he didn't seem to concerned with us cruising by. lucky for us. we passed him twice.the trail normally goes back for miles but it stops probably after mile post 2 sometime. the post was buried so we have no idea when we passed it. i just believe it was fairly soon after the beaver ponds. sunshine still. it did last several hours. blososm had a great day. she's pretty sleepy, not too sleepy to monitor the cat activities in the neighborhood. she was barking at a pair of kitty cats out there stalking each other.such a brave dog!! i think rio sleeps better knowing she's on watch. as much as i joke that blossom is a lousy seeing eye dog for rio, i know she is a comfort to the big dog. i've also seen her check in on rio on walks. she seems to know rio does need some extra assistance. that doesn't mean she won't take advantage of the fact that scraps of food will be missed by rio and can easily be consumed by the less visually impaired!before the moose and the ptarmigans and the porcupine i was mesmorized by all the various tracks running across the land. all sorts of critters have been wandering everywhere. boddhi spends a bit of time attempting to work his muzzle off. as we returned to the cars on gold mint the sun was getting obscurred by the grey clouds.took this as in the summers this is an area of beaver activity. the two bumps are beaver lodges and there is a pond here that the beavers have made and the dogs swim in it. we are lucky the beavers haven't attacked the dogs...yet. apparently, not as acclimated and annoyed by the dogs as the dog park beavers.amazing how there is this rather large stream/river that flows through the valley and you could barely see it. so much snow. crazy!karen enjoys the sunshine before the day turns cloudy.boddhi at mile marker one. just a few inches are sticking out. the bridge you cross earlier was barely visible. the snow comes to the top of the rails, which are a good 4 feet up at least.definitely some errands tomorrow and want to get my swim in. could have gone today, but i always feel guilty leaving rio all day just to come home and leave her again. she needs some snuggle time. she doesn't require much, she's a really good dog, but i just felt bad. not sure where i'll hike. look out the window and see how much mountain is showing. try and see what i can get done. really want to get my headlight fixed. tough to see with just one dirty light at night.need to confirm out air transport out to meet the boat for round island, deposit checks and then send off deposits. always frightening handling all this money. aack!! i still need to look at prices and times for travel to/from dillingham and places to stay. will be nice to have most of the trip paid for before summer even hits. will end on a fun shot i took at the trailhead today. the kids must have changed into more protective gear. loved all the boots lined up out there. kinda a cool shot.off to finish my movie and head to bed. haven't watched one of my netflix movies for a few weeks. some days i choose the movie by the length. todays was 1 hour 40 minutes. the other one i've had forever it seems is over 2 hours. goodnight...


  1. Loved your Alaskan Blog.
    Amazing seeing the world in black and white like that.
    Denis (from Australia).