Bucket List: Thunder Bird Falls

Bucket List: Thunder Bird Falls

I want to go back to these falls in the summer because the climb was so pretty even in the winter.

Thunder Bird Falls are located off the highway, north of Anchorage. I went into town for Fur Rondy (see previous post) and the day turned out so nice that I decided to get some fresh air and maybe a little bit of exercise.

As it turned out, it was lucky that I wore my hiking boots. The trail featured some sharp inclines and as it was the tail end of winter (ha, not really!) the trail was all hard pack snow. It was a bit of a challenge but the views were worth it.

At one point the trail split and if you went down you got a killer view from the bottom of the falls. I would love to go back in the summer to see the falls when they aren’t ice though that was impressive enough.

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A Little Slow on the Uptake

I finally got around to checking the online journal which has just published two of my poems. They did a great job with the formatting and they had a wonderful response time. I highly recommend them.

The journal is Soft Cartel. My poems, published under H. N. Hunt are archived under June 13th, 2018. They don’t give much in terms of feed back but they did proofread for me and asked questions about the errors they found. All in all, it was a good experience.

Bucket List: Fur Rondy

Bucket List: Fur Rondy

For those of you who don’t know, Fur Rondy is a cultural event in Anchorage, Alaska, that takes place every year, usually in February. There are all kinds of activities, including parades and, most important to me, the Open World Championship Sled Dog Race.

 

My second year in Alaska, I decided to go up and check it out because I heard a lot of interesting things about it. Of course, being obsessed with dogs, I wanted to see the sled race but there were plenty of things to keep me entertained while I waited for the race. There was a parade and vendors everywhere, especially down by the start/finish line. There was even a carnival, with rides though it was a bit chilly for me.

The race was the highlight for me. The dogs just looked so happy. But there are things for everyone, really. Beer festivals, raffles, dancing, even the Official Alaska State Beard and Mustache Championship (I do not know if you need to be an Alaska resident to compete).

 

Bottom line: Great festival. If you do plan to go, book your tickets and hotels early. The festival is very popular and as it gets closer, the prices will usually go up substantially.

Tips for a Beginner Hiker

Since the weather is turning nice, I have decided to put together a list of tips for beginner hikers. I’m going to try to keep this pretty simple because there’s a lot of advice I could give but that can be a bit overwhelming, especially for people who just want to hit the trails for an afternoon.

  1. Be prepared.

    This means deciding where you’re going, how long you expect to be out and what you should bring. I recommend bringing a water bottle, something to snack on and a camera or phone on the trail itself. There are lots of back ups you can keep in your car that are a good idea to have in there anyway because, hey, life happens. Again, water and snacks, but a wind breaker or hoodie are good ideas too. I like to keep a blanket, a mini first aid kit and a change of shoes and socks in the car just in case of almost anything.

  2. Have a game plan.

    This goes hand in hand with the previous one but also covers your contingency plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, keep your phone handy. Even if you don’t have signal, you can usually look up maps through your apps.

  3. Tell someone where you’re going.

    Again, this goes with the previous one but only to a degree. If you’re going to explore a new trail system by yourself, tell a friend or family member. It doesn’t have to be much. A Facebook or Twitter post would work even. Even if you have someone with you, passing on the word never hurts. I usually tell my mom.

  4. Plan for the route you’re taking.

    If possible, look it up first. You have a lot of different trail types, from flat and easy, like the C&O canal to scaling mountains. A lot of the trails are easy to look up thanks to the internet. A lot of the trails will give you an idea what kind of wildlife to expect as well so you can be prepared for encounters.

  5. Be respectful.

    This means a lot of things. You’re probably going to see people when you’re out and about, especially if you hang out at popular places. Treat your fellow hikers with respect. If the trail is narrow and you can’t get by slower hikers, be patient and wait until it widens because it probably will. Likewise if you’re uncomfortable going faster and the people behind you look like they want to, move aside and let them pass when you can. This also means to treat the trail with respect. Anything you bring in with you, take it out as well. Don’t take shortcuts. Stick to the trail.

  6. Don’t put yourself in danger.

    This seems pretty self explanatory. I know that shot with you on the top of a rock pile will make your profile but if the next shot is of you in a neck brace, was it worth it?

That’s really all I’ve got. Feel free to share any tips you want. I’m always trying to be more prepared and safe while having fun out there and I would love to know how others do it.

Bucket List: Ride with a Sled Dog

I actually got to do this twice. The first time was with my step mom’s husky, Piper. It’s a bit of a bitter sweet memory for me, because Piper is no longer with us and thinking about it makes me miss that little fluff ball but I wouldn’t trade the time with her for anything.

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In any case, my first winter up in Alaska, we got a good hard pack going on the road and my step mom brought out the harnesses. Piper went crazy. She barely held still long enough for us to get the harness on and her hooked up to the sled. She was chomping at the bit.

My step mom gave me a quick run down of how to control the sled. It was similar to cross country skiing, which I have done before. Angle the front tips towards each other to slow down, angle the back tips towards each other to speed up. Easy enough. I got on the sled and she let go of Piper.

I did not have a chance to try any of the stuff. Piper was off like a shot, running me up and down the little road three times. I ended up just holding on and laughing. I don’t know which of us had a better time, me or Piper.

The second time I went was down at the Seevey’s dog training camp down in Homer, Alaska. If you’re familiar with the Iditarod, then you’ve probably heard about the Seeveys. They’re a family of dog sled racers and they usually do really well in the race.

At the camp we got a tour of the kennels.

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I was with the two boys my sister nannies for and they were very surprised that most of the dogs were medium size and not the big Huskies you see in films. As the guide explained to us, the medium sized dogs usually have a lot more endurance while the big ones have the strength but only for short bursts.

We got on a sled on wheels and the dogs were hooked up. They took us on a ride around the training track and the guide talked more about the Iditarod but it was a little hard to pay attention because they dogs were just hilarious to watch. One of the ones in the middle kept ending up on the wrong side of the guide rope and you could see who was in charge by how they responded to each other.

After we were done, we went over to another kennel where we got to meet one of the dogs who had just had puppies. This was the greatest and best moment of all.

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Pictures by Carrie Hunt and Dawn Vogt

Bucket List: Visit a Glacier

Bucket List: Visit a Glacier

I got to go to two glaciers inside of a month, experiences made better by the fact that I saw each one with a different sister. My older sister was a full time nanny at the time and came up with the two kids she works with, a trip paid for by the parents.

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Together, we went on a ride in a modified truck that took us through rivers and over to a landing site. Then we got in speed boats with our guides and started up river.

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The water was freezing and cloudy. This was the glacial silt everyone talked about. As we went further up, chunks of ice started floating down past us, first small, fist sized ones then bigger until some were almost the size of our boat. Of course P, one of the kids, had to pick a smaller piece out and eat it just to say he had. His brother had to do the same thing.

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Finally they docked us at a hill across from the glacier. We climbed out and up and stood on the edge, drank hot chocolate and stared at the glacier. We didn’t get to go on the glacier because the access from the river is too slippery and it would be dangerous but it was still really cool. (Ha! Get it? Cool! I’m so funny.)

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A few weeks later my little sister surprised me by coming up for a visit. She’s such a wimp that we never thought we’d get her up there. She likes warm weather. SO it was particularly exciting when she got there. On one of her last days, our mom and step mom surprised us by taking us out to another glacier. We paid a fee and drove down to a parking lot. From there there were wooden walkways that led out to the base of the glacier.

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My sister was ridiculous, exclaiming about everything. Mom ended up staying back with her while I went further on with our step mom. We were on a bit of time schedule but Dawn, our step mom managed to get us down to the some of the neater parts of the glacier. It was gorgeous and I wanted to stay all day but I was happy we got to see what we did.

 

Bucket List: Try the Local Brew

Bucket List: Drink the Local Brew

This one is going to be an evolving list that I’ll add to when I find new drinks that I like. Most of the drinks will probably be alcoholic and I’ll try to stick to microbrews where possible. The point is to open your eyes to anything local that you might be able to get there and only there.

Alaska:

Denali Brewing Company

They’ve got a neat little repertoire and have branched out a bit since I moved up there which was only two years ago. The Easy Rider is popular choice and a crisper, lighter beer. My personal favorite was the Abbaddon which is a Belgian style blonde. I usually don’t like blondes in a beer so I was pleased to discover that one. I’m usually a darker beer with a more bitter after taste (Guiness is a favorite of mine) but the Abbaddon went down kicking which I liked. If you’re in the Talkeetna area, stop in at the Twister Creek Restaurant where they sell five ounce samplers of all the Denali Brewing Company beers. Also, try the Siracha IPA Chicken sandwich or the Fireweed.

Pennsylvania:

Troegs Brewing Company.

I’ve only tried one of the brews from this company so far. I went to lunch with a friend of mine and they had one called the Mad Elf which is a darker beer, brewed with honey and cherries. Luckily, my friend warned me before I ordered it. It is a great brew and I love it but it has twice the regular amount of alcohol. At 11.5, it knocked me on my butt. It’s very much a sipping beer. As I said, I liked it a lot. Unfortunately, it is only brewed in one small batch, once a year, making it a seasonal beer. If you’re in the region and you see it on the menu, try it out but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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