Sunday, July 2, 2017

Back Among the Living

Yesterday, I went fishing and rafting on Willow Creek. I couldn't help but feel gratitude for the water and the greenery around me. There was so much life, including monster king salmon in an extremely clear flowing water. Running water and restrooms make our lives so easy. Up on the mountain we spent hours every day trying to boil water to meet our physical needs and having to carry out our feces was certainly a heavy burden. Oh the wonderful air, it is nice to breathe again and not even think about it. 

The world is a beautiful place and we met amazing people on the mountain. We are especially grateful for a team of four Irish who we spent the last few days with. They left for the summit a half hour after us and got blasted by a storm on the way back. They let us borrow some fuel at high camp that really saved us as we were out and descending just after summitting with all of our gear felt more than overwhelming. We boiled some water for them as we could barely see them from time to time as they descended Denali Pass. It was nice to help them out and helped us remember the importance of human kindness. 

Our last day out ended up being very hard and scary. The temperature during the day reached 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is dangerous on a glacier. We traveled at the coldest time of the day between 12:30 - 9 am.  We left before the Irish team of Ann, Aaro, Jam, and Chris) hoping that if we ran into trouble we would have someone coming behind us. However route finding on a foggy morning proved very difficult. I began following deep footsteps which followed the route of the flags, but soon I could not see any more flags and led Kevin right into a hidden crevasse. He pulled out of it, but it was scary not knowing where the trail was. We chose to cross it again and get back to the flags to get on track. 

Just when we reached the flags again the Irish came along and we asked if we could jump inline behind them. They had better route finding skills than us and were excellent leaders through the slushy glacier. Most everyone had at least one slip into a crevasse along the way but none too deep that they were not able to quickly pull themselves out. As we pulled our heavy sleds along it was almost impossible for us to not be pulled a little by them into places we didn't want to go. We also got to hear a little Irish temper flare along the way. What a wonderful dawn as we pulled up the the hill to the airstrip and then flew back to Talkeetna. The pilot took us a route so that we could see greenery and life near the glacier. 

I feel blessed to be back among living things that I love. The trek was a great adventure and I appreciate Kevin and his steadiness in moving up so many hard paths. Team camaraderie is so important on "The Great One." I hope that you all enjoy your own adventures whatever they be. Continue following Kevin and Jerrica who are much more witty than I through their year off and their trek across North America:


We Made It Off Denali

We made it off the mountain. What a rough morning. It's not over until it's over. It was liking walking through mashed potatoes with deadly cracks.  It wasn't as much dangerous as grueling.  


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Heading Back Down

We are on our way down.  There was a lot of fresh snow and as it was midday it packed really easily and stuck to our crampons, this becoming heavy and then having no traction. It took nearly the same amount of time to come down as it took to go up because of the conditions. I rested a bit and Kevin boiled water at 14200. He really wanted to hike all the way out tonight. I said is was willing but was not sure that I was capable. 

We plan to leave at 10 pm tomorrow and hike through the night when it is safer on the lower glacier. I am alright, but it seems I always feel lethargic up here. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Denali Has Been Conquered

Heading back down 

 Sorry to be slow to send updates when we get to our destination there is always so much to do. Get water boiling with poorly functioning stoves, tie down equipment so it doesn't blow away, put the tent up and get all of our important stuff inside, etc. 

Today was a wild ride, we had quite pleasant weather going up to the summit. Not exactly a balmy 30 degrees with no wind but just some winds here and there. The trail was well packed so the going was good other than the elevation gain wears us out fast. A team of four Irish started 30 minutes behind us and we thought we would be the only one on the mountain. 

However, after reaching Denali Pass we heard voices and soon saw a ton of people. A NOLS team of 14 came from Wonder Lake (the long haul). We got stuck behind them but eventually passed them up when they took a break. The trail to the top was still well packed, but the view was not great due to wind and clouds. It was fantastic to reach the top and no easy feat. After climbing for ten days, over 13 miles, and gaining over 14,000 ft. we made it to the summit.  This year Denali's summit rate is 29%.  We were lucky with weather and good conditions.  

On our way down I asked the Irish if they had any extra fuel. They said they had enough for 5 days so eel free to grab some. As you probably figured out we did not bring enough to high camp. They offered us food too, but we should be good there. Coming down was not bad until the last third Zebra Rocks and Denali Pass the trail was wind blown and crampons came down on fresh snow rather than packed meaning less secure footing. As we made it into camp the winds have really picked up.

We really worried about the Irish and the NOLS crew. Kevin went over and boiled them 2 pots of water as a thank you for lending us some fuel. We just finished boiling the water as they arrived around 10:30. I think they were grateful, but probably more grateful to be back to camp safe. Now I just wish that our snow/water would boil already. It has been cooking for over 2 1/2 hours. I am worried the NOLS crew. They were moving slow as a lot of them had altitude sickness, but since they are going back down the Muldrow Glacier, we won't know if they make it back to camp. Ode to an achievement filled, eventful day. Now we have over 10,000 feet down.  We hope to be off the mountain Thursday night.  We'll keep you posted.  

Climbing to the Summit

We made it to Mordor


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summit Day and Hoping for the Best

This morning we were at 17,200 ft.  The summit's elevation is 20,310 feet and 2.5 miles from here.  The elevation gain is just over 3,000ft.  I don't have a headache anymore and we are going for it. It looks like high winds tonight, whenever that starts. So we better get out.   Click the top left corner where it says: CLICK HERE TO TRACK US LIVE. if you want to watch our progress.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summit Day Postponed

View of the summit from 14,200ft.
 Last night we made it to 17,2000. Well that was no walk in the park. It was pretty rough. 14,200 was higher than Kevin has ever been, and 17,200 is only 1300 feet below my highest and certainly the highest I have hauled a heavy overnight pack. I am pretty worn out and have a headache but hope to feel better. The plan was to summit, but I think we need to listen to our bodies and take a rest day if needed. The temperature highs are -2 and the lows are -4 where we are. 

I have an unfortunate update. I got a headache the last hour or so of our hike yesterday and it has yet to go away, so we are not making a summit bid today but resting and hoping I feel better by tomorrow. It is not extreme, but enough that it would be pounding if I tried to go uphill.   I've been taking Diamox since 12000 and taking plenty of ibuprofen. 

There are about 150 hikers on the mountain. Today we were alone at the high camp except for one other tent. and the NPS tents. Yesterday there were probably 15 tents here. A few more people have come up this evening so now there are more than 2 tents. It's like a boom or bust town around here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Camp #4- 14,200 feet Part 2

Climbing in style 
We plan to go to high camp in the morning and then summit Monday still God willing. We both felt really good on our acclimatization hike up to 15600 yesterday and took it nice and slow. We are feeling good about getting up there the only big worry that may stop our plans is high winds.  The weather has continued to be fantastic and not too cold.  It's actually quite pleasant during the day, the guy inches camp next to us who keeps skiing with his shirt off and pulling up his pants to get a burn would agree. The only problem is wearing glacier glades all of the time gets annoying.

I am getting sick of the food. Yesterday we ate pancakes and used all of the apricot jam. Today some guys from Bozeman came by pretending to be Santa Claus. I snagged some tortillas and pure maple syrup. I had pancakes again for dinner with blueberries and they were very good.