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Patiently waiting

December 31, 2007

As I write this, I’ve got the same anticipation and feeling in my stomach that I remember way back on this day. When would John and I see the mountain? Would weather have the mountain socked in? Would we see it? Would the experience actually meet my expectations? I wonder how hard the 85 or so miles of gravel could be? I could go on and on. So many questions.

To make matters worse, we had to wait two more days before heading into the park. What to do?

Sept 3
– got back country permit
– set up trip
– climbed Mt. Healy (approx 4500-5000ft)
– totally exhausted
– mild hypothermia today
– need sleep & food

Not sure you can read this but take note of the Snow Alert! on the back country pass.

Getting a back country permit isn’t difficult, but it isn’t super easy either. John and I had to read some documents, watch a video and talk with a park service worker. As we sat there, I counted at least 5 foreign languages being spoken either in front of us or behind us. Somehow we convinced the park rangers that we were up to the task.

My only other notes from this day were the notes I took while watching the park service video on Grizzlies.

Soap Berry – bright red
1-3 ft
leaves oval, dark green above, light green below with rusty scales
in gravelly river beds, woods & mtn slope.

After we got our passes, we threw some stuff in the lockers at the park headquarters, locked our bikes and headed up Mt. Healy.

Remember my last post when I said I’d pay for my 100+ mile grind later. Today was the day. While I was a much more experienced cyclist than my partner John, he was a much more accomplished hiker. He simply kicked my ass. I worked hard, didn’t eat enough food and as I wrote in my journal, got mild hypothermia on this day. It was an ass kicker. The reward for this punishment? Killer views from up top.

Take note of the colors in the last few pics. Deep maroons and golds. While John and I are both MN Gopher alums, the real excitement here was that this was fall in Alaska. Alaska falls into the taiga temperate region. Translated, this means land of little sticks. All that color is living organisms and plants! John and I had spent our whole lives in MN and IA and fall meant something else to us. Hard to describe actually. Simply, it was beautiful and I’ll never forget the valleys of maroon and gold.

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