Todays the day. We can finally share with you what we got up to during our crazy 13 days exploring Alaska on Trek America‘s Alaskan Wonder tour. Beginning our year of full time travel just over 6 months ago, we never would of dreamed our journey would take us to Alaska. It was by far the best travel experience we have had to date and we are so excited to share with you all everything we got up to.
As we experienced so much during our 13 day trek we have decided to break down our adventure into four parts, which we will be sharing with you across the next few weeks.
So, without further adieu here is our Alaskan Adventure with Trek America: Part I.
Day 1: The Trek Begins
At 6.30am we scrambled out of our hostel bunk beds, gulped down some coffee and jumped in a taxi on our way to meet up with the 11 other excited travellers ready to depart on our Alaskan adventure. We walked into the Inlet Towers Hotel in Anchorage and felt a sudden rush of nerves and unpreparedness. Others on our tour had their backpacks at the ready, dressed in outfits that said I am ready for a 13 day trek through Alaska.
Six months ago when we left Australia we had never anticipated we would be going camping for 2 weeks, let alone in Alaska. We stood there with our suitcases and sneakers, wishing we had brought all that wet weather gear sitting in our wardrobes back home. Little did we know we had nothing to worry about.
Our tour leader, Tommy, called everyone together as we gathered inside a restaurant to get to know each other a little before hitting the road. After being reassured by Tommy that what we had brought with us would be fine and finding out that for many this was their first time camping, our nerves left us and excitement kicked back in.
After Tommy gave us all the run down for the next 2 weeks we went outside to meet Betsy and Chastity, our van and trailer we would pretty much be living out of during the tour. We squeezed everyones bags in, jumped in the van and day 1 began.
We had a full day of driving ahead of us with a distance of 330 miles to cover, heading to a very remote town named McCarthy…population 70. After a few stops to stretch our legs, and a few bumpy roads later we made it to our camp grounds just in time for dinner. This was going to be a night of wilderness camping, with no showers, no electricity and no WiFi! We received a quick demonstration on how to pitch our tents, we got a fire going and the rest of the night was spent getting to know each other before our first nights sleep beneath the stars.
Day 2: Ice Pick Climbing a Glacier
We woke up to a gloomy sky, but nothing could dampen the mood. Today we would be making our way to the Root Glacier to go glacier hiking. Even more exciting, some of us would be experiencing ice pick climbing whilst out on the glacier – and Stephen was one of them! We scoffed down our breakfast, threw a few sandwiches together for lunch, grabbed our bags and jumped in the van on our way to the glacier base camp to meet our guides for the day.
Our adventure began in the historic mill town of Kennecott, Alaska. Here we meet our professional mountain guides who sized us up for our crampons (steel spikes worn on your shoes to make hiking on the glacier ice possible) and gave ice picks to those ice climbing. Once we were all geared up we set off down thee main street of Kennecott, passing run down red buildings left behind during the copper mining operation that boomed there in the early 1900’s.
Leaving town, we turned onto the two-mile glacier trail that would take us to the Root Glacier ready for our hike. Once we reached the glacier we huddled together at the edge of the ice to put on our crampons and learn some techniques before stepping onto the glacier.
This is where the two groups split up. Jess’s group went for a 2 hour hike around the glacier, admiring stunning vistas, crystal blue pools and amazing sculptured ice throughout the glacier. Stephen’s group headed out to the wave wall where his climb would begin. After mastering how to use the ice picks and foot spikes to climb up the wall it was time for the mother of all ice climbs… the Moulin.
Stepping backwards into the large opening and being lowered down into the Moulin with ice cold water pouring past you and a storm brewing above was one of the most scariest, yet adrenaline filled experiences imaginable. Just picture looking down and not being able to see the bottom and then looking out and realising there’s just a rope and a guide at the end of it. The best way for you to get a sense of our incredible this experience truly is by watching the video below. Trust us, it’s pretty cool…
Day 3: Northern Lights…during Summer?!
After a rainy night it was so nice to wake up to blue skies, and even nicer to know that we would be moving on to a place with hot showers! After a full day of hiking yesterday and having no showers to come home to we were all pretty keen to move to our next location.
We packed up our tents, threw everything back into the van and hit the road towards Tangle Lakes. Todays drive was another long one at 250 miles along the Denali Highway, a lightly traveled, mostly gravelled highway which ended up giving us a popped tire! However, the views along the drive where incredible, showing off Alaska’s stunning mountain ranges and tundra landscape.
After stopping off for a quick hike through the tundra we arrived at Maclaren River Lodge where we would be spending the night. The camp area had a stunning backdrop of snow capped mountains, it was the perfect spot with the clearest skies we had seen yet.
The tents went up rather quickly as we raced to grab a hot shower before eating our dinner around the camp fire. A few beers later and we had half the group jumping into the glacier fed lake we were camping along side. We thought that would be the perfect ending to our night and we all made our way to bed… how wrong we were. After jumping into our sleeping bags we heard someone yell out “Is that the northern lights!?” We all scrambled back out into the freezing cold night to see green and purple waves of light dancing across the sky. We were in shock! We of course had hoped to see the northern lights, but thought we wouldn’t have much luck as it was still summer here with the sun going down just before midnight.
How lucky were we!
Book the Alaskan Wonder with Trek America from $2550US.
Stay tuned for Part II…
Thanks to Trek America for inviting Flying The Nest to experience the Alaskan Wonder tour.