Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Time for Everything

This is my (Jon) very first time ever to post on a blog. I can't quite put the experience into words- exciting, stupendous, exhilarating. Enough with the sarcasm.
This past weekend, while living it up as an Alaskan bachelor, I decided to go on a hike with a friend of mine. The 26 mile trail runs from Girdwood to Eagle River rising from 3,500 ft. to somewhere near 500 ft. It took us a long and arduous 9 hours to complete, but in the end I count it as one of my greatest accomplishments as an Alaskan.
There were three highlights of my expedition through the frozen tundra of Alaska: bears, cold, and dogs.
Although we never actually saw any bears we did come across several piles of fresh bear scat. There were several areas where the brush had overgrown the trail and it was shaded from the sun. Sam told me that these type of areas were favorite napping spots for black and brown bears. I clutched tightly to my bear spray like a fat kid holding on to his last candy bar. I was ready to spray at anything. Sam's two dogs had come along for the hike and I failed to notice that one of the dogs had double backed behind me. I saw this animal pounch out the bushes and I almost soil myself, that is, until I realized it was Sam's dog. As a former Baylor Bear you can be assured that as long as I live in Alaska I will NOT be yelling, "Sic em' Bears"- just not going to happen.
Since we have been in Alaska, I have not felt all that cold- until my hike. Standing at Crow Pass, shivering as the cold wind came down from the glacier helped to remind me that, "we're not in Texas anymore." At the half way mark we had to cross the Eagle River, a glacier fed river. Before I put my watershoes on I mistakeningly thought to myself, "It can't be that cold." It was fffffreezing! After only a few steps I couldn't feel my feet touching the rocks on the bottom of the river. I've never had frostbite before, but I'm hoping that this experience is the closest I ever get to having it.
As I stated before, Sam brought his dogs with us- Jack and Jasper. They are Alaskan huskies who love the snow and the cold. I was glad they came because we sent them ahead of us to scare off the bears. It didn't work all that well, but it was nice to have some canine company along the trail. It seems like everyone has a dog or two in Alaska. One of the first questions people ask after your name is, "Do you have a dog?" At first I thought it was wierd, but now I see dogs as a means of true Alaskan survival. While the bear is growling at your dog, it gives you just enough of a head start to make your escape so you can live to hike another day.
So when you come to Alaska bring some bear spray, bring a nice warm coat, and bring your dog.


Beth Pritchard said...

Nice post Jon! It looks like a good hike. I'm sure you can't wait for Ashley to get home. Talk to you later!

Sarah said...

Well, I bet that this hike was better than that other 26 mile adventure that wasn't quite completed.

You can borrow my dog if you need one; Ewocks can scare bears, right?

Bert Burt said...

Jon You did a great job with the blog and had an exciting story filled with images of danger around every turn (especially if you consider having to watch where you step). Going on a 26 mile hike on a flat surface in a warm climate would be a noteworthy accomplishment - clearly you were looking for a real challenge in cold climate.
Hope all goes well for you over the next week and that all your adventures are ones you can joke about. However, I would challenge the idea that you would know how tightly a fat kid would hold on to his last candy bar.
Thanks for sharing - you have become a blogging machine.

Kaitlin said...

wow thats really fast. Thomas and I thought 26 was a typo. So what was the grade of the incline? How hard was it?