Back in the summer of 2002 we were lucky enough to spend some time in Alaska. We first spent a week in Canada with my parents – who lived there – and then flew on to Alaska for a fortnight. We hired a car and did some touristy driving around, but also had a couple of backpacking trips planned.
When we initially landed in Fairbanks though, the whole city was under a thick blanket of smoke due to huge forest fires in the area and this meant that our first trip had to be cancelled. By the second week of the vacation however, we were on the Kenai Peninsula (south of Anchorage) and with no fires at all in this region our second trip could go ahead as planned.
Anyway, when looking through our Alaska photos today, I decided to scan the prints from the backpacking trip into the computer and put them into a blog post. Once again, apologies for the poor quality!
The route we took was a four-dayer, known as the Resurrection Pass Trail. A linear trail going from north to south, and the first thing we had to do was park the hire car at the southern end of the trail and wait for a ‘local’ guy to come and pick us up in his huge 4×4 and drive us to the northern end.
We didn’t walk far the first day, only about 6 miles.
Dotted along the trail are several huts where you can spend the night but, they are expensive and have to be booked in advance. Of course no-one would know if you just stayed in one, unless someone who’d already booked turned up and turfed you out! Needless to say we didn’t use them, although they do have a certain appeal due to the rather large numbers of grizzlies in the area.
Unlike most of our other trips in the States – which are generally just in black bear country – we did come armed with pepper spray for this one. We each had a canister that was handily placed in a holster on our rucsac belts. Of course you have to take the spray with you when going to filter water or answer the call of nature too. We forgot about that to start with, until I was filtering water on the 2nd day and suddenly heard a noise behind me. Luckily it wasn’t a bear. The trail was pretty quiet and we only bumped into a handful of people – but these others were all armed with rifles, not pepper spray! It made us feel somewhat under-equipped.
This was our pitch for the first night.
The next day was a long one as we slowly climbed to the top of the pass – about 19 miles.
That night, we camped a couple of miles beyond Resurrection Pass, at a spot known as Devil’s Pass.
The temperature went down below freezing overnight and it was definitely down duvet weather the next morning.
When we got up that morning we also found a ‘grizzly nest’ – where one had obviously been sleeping overnight – only about 50 yards from our tent. I’m glad I didn’t hear it snuffling around us in the early hours!
There were super views this day as we started to drop down the far side of the pass.
There were also loads of grizzly paw prints on the trail.
With so much grizzly action in the area, we had been advised by rangers to make loads of noise while we were walking (singing, bells etc) and to sit back-to-back when stopping for snacks, so that between us we had a 360 view of the area and what might be approaching.
On that third afternoon we stopped at one of the huts and dried our tent in the sunshine.
This hut was next to the beautiful Juneau Lake.
But we continued further into the forest to pitch up for the night.
By the afternoon of the fourth day, we reached journey’s end. Luckily the hire car was still there!
To our surprise though, another sign had also been put up at the trailhead. A warning sign. Apparently there had been another couple on the trail 24 hours in front of us, who had been hospitalised as the result of a grizzly attack. This pair had not been armed with a rifle, but pepper spray like us. Unfortunately though, their pepper spray hadn’t been in a holster around their waists, but down in the bottom of their rucsacs ie: not to hand when needed. Fortunately, they weren’t seriously injured.