Thursday, October 28, 2010


The overnight ferry to Sitka was interesting. We got a cabin and thought we'd sleep the whole way. We were tired from the hike up McGinnis that day, and didn't have trouble falling asleep. But not before we caught the sunset and snapped this shot off the back of the boat.

After sleeping for about three hours we woke up to the boat turning a lot. We were sliding back and forth on the bunk beds, and listening to the engine rattle the doors to our cabin. Every time I fell asleep, I awoke again to doors banging and my feet hitting the bottom of the bed.

We arrived in Sitka early. We still didn't understand how the ferry worked, so we took our time getting dressed, because we figured we had a lot of time. We were wrong, just as I was changing out of my pajamas a women came barging into the cabin yelling that they needed to clean it for the next people getting on. Sooo, you pretty much have fifteen minutes after you dock to get the @#$% off the boat!

We sleepily checked into a hotel and slept in that day. After dragging ourselves out of bed we got coffee and walked down to the bike rental shop. We needed away to get around. We talked to the bike shop owner and he gave us a tip on a hike that wasn't on the map.

We rode to the end of the road in Sitka and found the hatchery that he told us about.

We locked our bikes to a bridge and headed out to find the trail.

This giant log bridge got us over the creek.

Wandered up through the trees wondering what we were going to find. The shop owner told us there was a lake there with a canoe that we could use. There were actually two boats there. We came out of the trees and suddenly found ourselves at this beautiful alpine lake. It felt like we were the only people who had ever been there. (Despite the boats).

We hopped in one of the boats and floated out onto the lake. This was probably my most favorite place we visited on the whole trip. It was so quiet and peaceful here. There were huge waterfalls coming

There were huge waterfalls coming down the sides of this canyon. I wondered if anyone had climbed them.

After the hike we spent the rest of the day riding back to town and then relaxing in Sitka. We looked over maps and realized we had already covered half of the trails in town. Sitka was beautiful and we were sad to have to leave the next day. Back to Juneau!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Riding, Moose, Ice, Rainbows and a little Bromance

It was a weekend of riding, but somehow I didn't get any pictures of anyone on bikes. Saturday a bunch of us headed out in the chilly morning up the powerline trail for a mellow social ride to Green Lake

My friends are so colorful...

Green Lake was completely frozen over. This is about the only time of year that you can see this lake frozen. In a week or so it will be covered in snow.

The moose were out all over the place, including this bull not too far off the trail. He was accompanied by four others. Another bull, a cow and two babies.

Today we rode from my friend Emmy's house, behind the ball fields, up to the STA trails and then a fun ride all the way back down. The puglsey handled the frozen bumps and roots pretty well. Not as easy to maneuver as my Dos Niner, but not too bad either.

We cut through an area I have never been through before and found this...

Joe giving himself some lovin on Bromance rock.

And these are my cats...

I know. Most random post ever. But fall is kind of like that in Alaska. You never know what you are going to find. Ice, Snow? Wind, Rain? It's an interesting and unpredictable time of year.Of course we are all waiting for the snow to come, but sometimes you just have to roll with what you get.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crabapples, Raspberries, Muffins, Yum

It's no secret that I like to bake. Mostly, I like to eat baked goods. When I am having a craving for a pastry, instead of running out to the bakery, I just make whatever it is that I want to eat.

For the most part I have all of the ingredients I need on hand to make the things that I crave. Butter, sugar, flour, chocolate, eggs. Yep that's about all you need. But I also like using ingredients that grow in the backyard, or that we pick out in the wild.

This year Brian formed an obsession with picking berries. I made raspberry crisp, raspberry nectarine crisp, raspberry pie, raspberry jam, blueberry banana muffins, blueberry pie, and so on. Late in the season we still had a lot of raspberries, but I was all raspberried out so we froze a ton of them.

The trick to freezing berries is to lay them out on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. That allows them to hold their shape and prevents them from squishing together to form a giant raspberry block. After a few hours you can take them out and put them in baggies. Then you can use only a few at a time, or a whole bag, depending on what you are making.

Today I was looking for a sourdough recipe in my Cooking Alaskan book and ran across a recipe for Crabapple Sauce. Who knew you could eat them? So I got a ladder and my ice axe (to pull the branches down) and headed out back to collect a bunch of crab apples.

Cooked them down, and made applesauce with them. It was a bit tart and I could only eat a few spoonfuls, so I decided to make muffins out of them.

I have been trying out vegan muffin recipes lately, not because I am vegan, but because I haven't had any eggs in the house and wanted to bake something. Turns out you don't need eggs to bake. You can use applesauce or mashed bananas. Yum.

So here's the recipe I came up with by combining a few of the recipes I have used lately.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325ยบ  Place muffin liners in muffin pans (approx. 12-16 muffins) or grease them with Pam.
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl mix applesauce with the sugar, oil and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture and mix.
5. Gently fold in the raspberries.
6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tada! Muffins! It would probably be a good idea to let them cool first, because the raspberries will burn your tongue.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Summer: Mount McGinnis

Rewind back to June, when we were in Juneau. I'm finding it really hard to go back and write about trips we did in June, but want to get the photos on here, so here goes.

On Day two in Juneau we woke up to tea and delicious sourdough pancakes, made by Ben's mom. Ben told us stories of all of the peaks he had climbed in the area and beyond, which was pretty much every peak on the map. The peaks he hadn't climbed he already had a route planned out. He was back in Juneau for the summer and was going to spend most of his time climbing before he headed back to school in Anchorage in August.

He gave us about ten options for great day hikes. We decided on Mount McGinnis because the hike started by paralleling the Mendenhall Glacier, which we wanted to visit while we were in Juneau.

The hike started out at Mendenhall Lake. It was hot and sunny again. I think it got up to 80 degrees during this hike. I drank three liters of water in about three hours and then did the rest of the hike without any.

For the first few miles the hike is in the trees, but after about thirty minutes we started to see glimpses of the glacier as we climbed.

Eventually we came out onto the ridge where we needed to turn left and start scrambling. At this time we had a great view of the glacier. We could see people down below and heard helicopters flying back and forth all day. This is kind of a noisy hike on a day that a cruise ship is in town. People get off the ship and get in a helicopter and get flown out to the glacier.

Because we ended up visiting all of the towns in Southeast where the cruise ships stop, this became a theme of our trip. We felt bad for tourists who only get to stop in town for a day and never really get to see Alaska the way we do.

Cruises are great for people who want to pay a ton of money and don't want to do any planning on their own, but if you have the time and are on a budget I would recommend traveling by ferry. You can travel from town to town on your own schedule, talk to the locals (most of them don't really like the cruise ships coming to their towns, so we found the locals were nicer to us, and they travel by ferry themselves so you meet them along the way), and you have time to really explore the surrounding areas.

We turned left up the ridge and had a fun scramble on solid granite until we arrived back in the trees.

We were now well above where most people stop and turn around on this hike, it started to feel like we might be in bear territory. Then we saw this...

Out of the trees and into the snow...

We stopped just short of the summit again because we had gone over an hour past our turn around time and were planning on getting to the ferry at 5pm.

View from our turnaround point...

Off to Sitka for an overnight ferry ride...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Falling Water Valley

Brian and I wanted to do a new hike, but didn't have the energy to climb a peak so we took Niko and Guiness, my friend Trish's dog, out for a hike in Falling Water Valley to check out the fall colors.

The doggies had fun running around on the tundra...

So excited that the snow is coming...

Taking a break to figure out what peaks we are looking at, and planning future trips...

I guess I would call this hike a pleasant walk on rolling tundra. We didn't gain any significant elevation and it was pretty easy going.

The fall colors were everywhere. I love the contrast between the oranges and yellows with the stark white snow at this time of year.

We saw more sheep this summer than any other. My camera does a pretty good job of zooming, these sheep were at least a half mile away.

Eventually we reached the snowline. Yippeeeeee!

We took note of some fun looking skiing slopes for future winter trips.

Guiness napping in the snow. Actually that's not true, I made her pose for this.

We made good time once we turned around and headed back down the valley. We took a lot of breaks and walked leisurely up the valley and it still only took four and a half hours round trip. Can't wait to explore this valley on skis.

I can't believe it's October already. This is the time of year we usually try to get stuff done around our house, getting ready for winter and doing some cleaning that we have neglected all summer, but the hiking has been so good, I think we'll just live with the messy house.