NOLS Alaska Mountaineering – Day 21
Today has been one of the hardest days, but it doesn’t have me down like it might have 2 weeks ago. Yay!
Well that storm last night thundered, hailed, and raged on for about 4 hours, so I didn’t get to sleep until about 1:45am. I was upset since I thought we had to get up at 4 to leave by 6, but the weather check at 4 said ‘no-go’ so we got to sleep for 2 more hours!
After filling up on some oatmeal and packing and roping up, we began our journey around 9am. Around 10:30, we ran into a fog cloud that had filled the valley, and soon put us into a whiteout. I could barely see the people roped in front of or behind me, but other than being a little scared I tried to enjoy the experience. The mist continued and thickened throughout the day. Andy, worried about getting lost, brought out his GPS and led us on. After a couple more hours we hit the Black Rapids glacier, and turned west/southwest.
Right then we ran into the glacial equivalent of a swamp, and our feet began to get wet. At one point we had to cross this glacial ice river and my foot got stuck at the bottom in about waist-high water! It was so scary and i ended up having to dig my foot out with my hand. Before I had time to realize how cold I was, we trudged on, and I warmed back up. Looking back that was pretty awesome though, I mean how often are you walking through a glacial swamp in a whiteout?
Eventually we ran into this HUGE (well as far as we could see) glacial lake, and decided that after about 7 hours of hiking we should call it quits. Also the visibility was making things dangerous. So we set up camp and I found it amazing how a desolate lonely place feels like a comfy home the moment tents go up.
Now Eric and I are hanging out in the tent while Jake and John are cooking up some broccoli cheese pasta. We have a meeting after dinner too, so I’ll write more after that.
Well good news! We don’t leave in the morning until 9:30, which means we get to sleep until 7:30! Wahoo! Also our group meeting was fun, and the instructors just read us readings. As a group we’re getting along really well, and I’m having a great time.
We checked the maps and should be making our way out of the black Rapids glacier and into the East fork of the Susitna tomorrow. The hike shouldn’t be too bad, I’m just hoping we have more than 10ft of visibility like today. It’s odd when you can’t see where the rope you’re tied to is going!
Well that’s it for tonight. I’m gonna read more of Alaska since the night is still young and we leave later tomorrow.