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Fresh snow and Chatanika

Posted by on March 8, 2015

We got a nice dump of fresh snow, a wet and heavy fresh snow, not what we usually get in Interior Alaska. I’m use to that nice dry powdery stuff, but this year has been such a snow drought for us any snow is appreciated, even wet heavy stuff.

As the club didn’t have any rides on the calendar, I posted on the web site that I was thinking about heading out to Chatanika for breakfast and a ride. I got called from a couple of members as to my plans, like where we going, how many miles, no idea. My plan was simple, meet at Chatanika, have breakfast, get on sled and ride.


I did hear that Kim, one of the new board members was also riding Saturday and meet up with them at Fox. They weren’t up for Chatanika and had plans to drive to 57 Mile Steese and ride into the White Mtns from there. Anyway, after meeting up they headed up the road and we followed as far as Chatanika Lodge where we meet Dave O, Mike C, and Nick S. and had breakfast.

Discussion was where to go and we decided to ride up to Cleary Summit and then head down the Alpha-C trail to Fish Creek. The first 8 miles weren’t too bad, about 6 inches of that fresh and wet snow and a bit of flat light. Of course I got to lead and set a nice a track for everyone, at least to where we hit the Alpha-C trail. By that time my eyes are getting blurry from the flat light and I needed a break. The Alpha-C trail was covered in 12 inches or more of fresh wet snow and Mike C decided to lead. He did a good job of it to, Dave followed Mike and I came along in third packing down the trail for Jake and Nick who were riding trail sled with stock tracks. No way would they have gotten more than a few feet without getting stuck.

As it was I was still have trouble keep the Bearcat in the track they made, didn’t get stuck but every once in a while my ski would catch the berm the two up front made and pull me off the trail and towards the trees, when in doubt throttle out 

Mike did get stuck once when he tried to do a loop back and landed in the trees and brush, no bottom and off he goes. You can see him in to pictures trying to get out.

Down at the bottom of the hill about 1/2mile from Fish creek Mike took a wrong turn and started running down the trail the miners put in two years, so I just stopped and waited for Mike and Dave to come back.

When they did we decided we had enough fun for one day and head back to the rigs. The return trip was much nicer with a track set and easy going. One more mishap, Nick’s 500 Cougar was running rough and finally gave up the ghost on the Fairbanks Creek road just before the turn off to the Fairbanks-Circle trail, so the Bearcat got to tow its third sled out for the year. I figure this time it was a Bearcat towing a Kitty Cat

All in all a nice 40 mile day, although I was soaking wet all the way through by time we did load up. My thermal were wet from sweat at 30 above F and my outer wear was wet from all the wet snow. Felt great to get home and put on some dry cloths.

O, I guess I also need to remind myself to listen to the wisdom of others. We loaded up the non-running Cougar at Cleary Summit and Dave drove down Fairbanks Creek road to turn around and did tell me “not” to try and turn around in the parking lot, as it wasn’t plowed. Well dang it, I drove up to the parking area, took a look and said “I can make that”. Not… Got stuck big time and just as Jake and I are digging out Nick calls and comes back to our rescue. That 100’ 5/8 rope came in handy once again.

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