Posts Tagged ‘Valdez AK’

AK Ingenue: Best of both worlds

Written by leehart on May 1st, 2012. Posted in AK adventures

Sunny spring days inspire folks in Valdez to get out on the water – kayaking, sailing, fishing, and shrimping. Sailors love summer in Valdez when a west wind almost always arrives in the late afternoon.

Yesterday, my friend Josh McDonald invited me along on Bema, his 27-foot sloop, for a quick happy hour sail around Prince William Sound. It’s just a little shakedown before heading out for a weeklong sailing/skiing adventure. When summer kicks in, Josh leads folks on super cool, small group, custom kayak adventures as owner and lead guide of  Unbeaten Path.

Thanks and cheers Josh!


AK Ingenue: All You Need

Written by leehart on April 21st, 2012. Posted in AK adventures

Tucked in the woods beyond the end of the road in quiet little neighborhood at the base of Thompson Pass, my friend built a little house that is a model of harmonizing with your surroundings. Built of seemingly equal parts wood and so much glass it feels more like a fishbowl, the log two-story house both melds with and celebrates its surroundings. Walk up the snow machine track that is the driveway to the north side of the house and step aboard the short gangplank for the final few steps to the front door.

Stomp the snow off your shoes, open the door and you are instantly enveloped in the living area. Light and airy, the blond logs are as as structural as they are artistic, supporting the giant picture windows on all four sides of the house that don’t so much frame the mountains just beyond his little slice of forest as make you feel at one with the viewscape. To the right, cushion-covered and bookended with pillows the cozy practical bench seat is hinged to provide storage underneath, the lone log table topped with locally quarried and smoothed stone. Sit up to eat or put your back to the wall and stretch out your legs to lounge and gaze out the windows and let your mind unwind. A couple bar stools accommodate a few more friends for dinner or can be shoved out of the way for space efficiency.  A small electric heater backs up the wood stove that keeps the house toasty. Just enough strategically placed lights are handy for cooking, reading, computer time while also creating a soft, welcoming glow for visitors approaching at night.

In the kitchen, tapestry reminders of travels afar conceal kitchenwares, cleaning supplies and dry goods. Pots and the tea kettle on top the stove are kept topped off with water. There’s running water, though not in the traditional sense. Though you can drink straight from it, for cooking and cleaning purposes, my friend hauls buckets of water from the pristine creek at the base of a small waterfall he can see out his kitchen window. A compact under-the-counter refrigerator keeps a couple days worth of produce fresh, with room for other perishables and condiments; beer can stay outside the front door naturally refrigerated.

Heat rises eliminating the need for a second heating unit in the sleeping/yoga room at the top of a short climb up a wood ladder with handhold cutouts on the stringers. Built-in floor to ceiling wood shelves make it easy to quickly see, grab, dress and go. More windows and a glass door invite you to step out onto the small deck to inhale the pine-scented forest and, depending on the day, lets the sun caress your face, wind comb your hair, snowflakes kiss your cheeks, raindrops freshen your face.

Perched on pilings, underneath the house itself keeps chopped wood dry, snow off the hot tub and weather off the chef as he grills the catch of the day on the small travel size Weber. Copper Valley Wireless and an air card keep him connected to friends, family, news and business near and far.

Minimalist, efficient, easy on resources, and positively humming with good energy, though it may seem a bit too rustic for most folks, in so many ways, I think it’s just perfect.

Best little outhouse in Valdez AK

Giant picture windows and space heaters make for a pimpy reading room



AK Ingenue: Chix in the Chugach Rock!

Written by leehart on March 26th, 2012. Posted in AK adventures

Karen Cummings, Salmonberry sidecountry

Karen Cummings, Salmonberry Hill sidecountry on opening day

Tesslina Cummings Valdez AK

Tesslina Cummings has an early start on Valdez style, fresh from her daddy’s homemade sauna Thompson Pass, Chugach, Valdez AKKate and Raeann on Thompson Pass
Keystone Canyon, Chugach, H2o Guides, Valdez AK

Nicole styled Keystone Canyon but said it was her first and last ice climb

H2o Guides, Chugach, Valdez AK

Daniella from Switzerland was all smiles heliskiing

H2o Guides, Chugach Range, Valdez AK

Nina representing She Rides

Alison Creek, Chugach Range, Valdez AK

Allison and Laura, Alison Creek tour

Per capita, pound for pound or however you want to measure it, I’d have to say Valdez AK has some pretty awesome outdoor women.

The women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in Valdez are all pretty accomplished, if understated, athletes. They are confident, competent and self-reliant. They are skiers, snowboarders, sailors, climbers, kite boarders, hikers, learners, educators, teachers and friends. Like a lot of other folks here they the love the mountains and the ocean and the way both come together here in Valdez.

Some say I’ve just gotten lucky to fall in with the right crowd. I do feel lucky about that but give all credit to Allison who has introduced me to her friends all of whom make up one pretty cool circle of friends that just keeps rippling outward. I’m finding too that the women attracted here to heliski – sadly the vast minority of heliski clients – could easily fit in with the locals.



AK Ingenue: Exploring the Backyard Triggers Icy Memory

Written by leehart on March 15th, 2012. Posted in AK adventures

Lowe River Valdez AK

Lowe and be hold

The other day in the city administrative offices, I saw some aerial views of Valdez. Amid all the frozen white goodness I did not know a river was just around the block from where I live.

So i borrowed some snowshoes from Karen and ventured out thru the hood to the Mineral Trail. Start to end points, the Mineral Creek Trail travels  5.5 miles. The mountain backdrop rises to over 5,000 feet. The trail is interrupted by the high school grounds because, inexplicably, the high school is at the terminus of a persistent avalanche path. The Lowe River is temporarily hushed under a thick blanket of ice and snow. The tracks of snow machines (aka sleds or snowmobiles), dog walkers and now at least one snowshoer criss-cross the lake. But none seem to go all the way across.

Does the ice get too shallow? Could I fall through? Probably not. But when I was a young girl I fell through ice into Rocky River on Christmas Day. We were sledding at the golf course in the Metropolitan Park System that rings Cleveland, OH. The icy water came midway up my thighs. i had to wallow a bit toward shore before I could get up on the ice and out of the water. It was in the olden times before cell phones. My girlfriends and I weren’t going to be picked up for an hour or so, so there was nothing to do but shiver and wait. When I got home, my grandmother was already at our house for Christmas dinner. Someone distracted her while I snuck to my bedroom and changed out of my stiff wet clothes into dry clothes for dinner. We always tried to hide mishaps like that from my grandma so she wouldn’t worry more than she did every day.

So it was that, despite the powerful natural curiosity  to see what was on the opposite bank of the Lowe, I didn’t cross and just continued shoeing downriver.