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July Trip Reports
Glacier caves, wildflowers, icefalls, and other cool things
I’ve meant to write a new substack newsletter for a while now but have been having trouble finding time to sit down and do it. On top of work and hikes, I’ve been trying to get as many wildflower photos as I possibly can for the guide if I have any hope of publishing a print field guide by next spring. We’re already nearing the end of the flower season for Alaska, so it’s eating up most of my spare time.
Since my last post here, I have been writing quite a bit. I’ve started writing Trip Reports for all of my recent adventures. This has included two trips to the Gulkana Glacier, one to the glacier caves in the Canwell Glacier, and a hike up Sugarloaf Mountain near Denali National Park. Overviews and links below.
Gulkana Glacier 1
Cat and I hiked out to the Gulkana Glacier on July 2, 2023. The snowline was still quite low for this time of year, so we didn’t travel very far. But it was a gorgeous day. We had some great views of the icefall from down below but didn’t want to trudge further through the water-saturated snow.
For more photos and info from this hike: Trip Report for July 2, 2023 – Gulkana Glacier
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Canwell Glacier Caves
On July 6, 2023, a few of the kids from my competitive climbing team and their families hiked out to some glacier caves in the lower moraine of the Canwell Glacier. It was a shorter day, only covering about 5 miles, but the loose and sharp talus of the moraine is crazy hard on the feet, and for many, it was the first time hiking on anything like it. It was still a great experience, and we found a few new caves that are starting to form nicely after one of the best ones collapsed last summer.
For more photos and info from this trip: Trip Report for July 6, 2023 – Canwell Glacier Caves
Sugarloaf Ridge Trail
This was Cat and my first time hiking this trail, starting at the Grand Denali Lodge in Denali Village, just outside of Denali National Park. It was an awesome and steep (but incredibly windy hike). This was another short one, only 4.5 miles, but with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in just two miles! My quads were on fire by the end of the descent. This trail had tons of wildflowers and expansive alpine views of the Alaska Range.
Since this was my first time hiking the trail, rather than writing a trip report, I just posted my Sugarloaf Ridge Trail Guide.
Gulkana Glacier 2
After two-and-a-half weeks of snowmelt since the trip Cat and I made here, the snow conditions were much better for getting to the cliffs at the icefall. This time I made the trip with team kids and families again. Despite overcast skies the whole time, the weather held out for the most part, and we had another stunning trip! We got fantastic, close-up views of the seracs in the icefall, explored a still snow-covered crevasse, and saw a couple of mass balance sites that allowed me to explain how scientists take mass balance measurements from individual points on the glacier. On top of that, we had a fun stream fording and saw lots of pretty blue moulins.
This was one of the best hikes I’ve had in this area in a while, and I managed to get lots of great photos. For more info with lots of photos and a link to the full photo gallery, check my Trip Report for July 14, 2023 – Gulkana Glacier to Gabriel Icefall.
Bad Aurora Reporting
In hindsight, I should have posted this on my Substack earlier. But since I forgot to mention it, I’ll go ahead now. You may have heard some extravagant reporting about the aurora possibly being seen in 17-22 states late last week. USA Today even reported that the aurora would be seen in Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow). Well, the Sun doesn’t set in Utqiaġvik until August 2, so clearly they won’t. Much of this reporting was sensationalized and flat-out wrong. If you are interested in reading more about this, check out my article Lost in the Midnight Sun: Misreporting The Aurora and Science (Il)Literacy in Journalism.
Once again, thanks for reading! Sorry it’s been so long since my last post; I’ll try to get back to once or twice a week from now on.