Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Two French guys, one Finnish girl and millions of mosquitos in Far Mountain

Last week was pretty exciting for us: we had a visitor from France! Romain came to Alaska to begin his travel to South America and was spending some time with us.

On Friday we went hiking together and selected not the easiest trail near our home. Far Mountain trail is rated to be from difficult to expert, and the profile of the trail includes impressive up- and downhills, well actually only those.
We started the trail from the Chena Hot Springs Resort in sunny weather and from the beginning it was clear that we would have a lot of company. Mosquitos joined us from the first steps and never left us alone. Not matter how windy, cold or rainy. The start is described to be the reason why many people don’t take the trail. It is a steep long climb first in forest and then above the tree line. Needless to say the landscape up there was amazing. We let the photos speak for themselves!

We hiked about four hours on Friday and camped on a nice flat shoulder next to a hill. View was great, the sun was shining and food was good. What else would you need? We chatted for several hours and finally went to bed. We knew that Saturday wouldn’t be easy.

On Saturday we started hiking in morning and followed a line of summits. There was no actual trail so you need good map skills and have to be able to read the environment. On the other hand, you can see the trail loop the whole time you are walking. The lunch place, the actual Far Mountain seemed to be so close, but just on the other side of the valley. To get there we crossed several uphills that felt like climbing a wall, and then you reach the summit just to notice that in front of you there is a steep downhill usually full of rocks and straight after that, another uphill. The ground changed from grassy and bushy vegetation to sharp rocks. It made the trail very exciting with changing elevation. And in fact, it was one of Piia’s all-time favorite trails!

Finally some time in afternoon we reached the Far Mountain and had lunch. Of course mosquitos wanted to lunch on us so we didn’t have a very long pause.

Then we kept going and hoped that the surrounding rainy clouds wouldn’t come above us. We had a bit of rain, just enough to spot a beautiful rainbow above one valley. We also saw a marmot, checking on us while we climbed another hill.

After about 20 km of hiking we found a nice flat shoulder for camping, but the day wasn’t over. We were all short of water and since we weren’t able to find any water sources near, we had to go down a river valley and fill our bottles and climb back with them. After that it was time to relax. We chatted and slapped mosquitos. Boys enjoyed the almost midnight sun and stayed up late. Piia went bed earlier, maybe because she was tired from carrying everybody's the water earlier…

On Sunday we woke up with rain. Which meant we had a quick breakfast and packing and started to head home pretty early. The trail kept going up and down and up and down and soemtimes we even walk inside clouds...

After no time, the sun was also shining. It was hot! We found a lunch place in front of beautiful landscape and watched thunderstorm clouds gathering in sky from first distance, and then nearer and nearer.

We didn’t have so many miles to go so we rushed back to the trail that changed into an actual ATV trail before the end. We got just a small rain but heard the thunder coming. Last downhill to the resort was fast and finally we reached the car.  With happy muscles! Especially after a nice bath in Chena river, with water that has to be barely above zero.
A hiking book that we have says that if you want more adventurous than Far Mountain trail, you need help. Maybe it is the case with us, since we really enjoyed the weekend and the hard trail. Romain might have a different opinion, since he has to go back and pick up a forgotten pole for his tent…

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