Healy Visit

Andrew went down to the cabin for a few days last week.  He ended up spending a lot of time close by or driving around with Boss because the daytime highs were between 30 and 40 below.  At those temperatures you can't leave the cabin or the truck alone for more than a few hours.  The woodstove in the cabin is not very efficient at holding the heat in.  The metal is so thin that when the wood burns up, which doesn't take very long because its a small stove and you can't put a ton of wood in it, the heat stops coming out and it gets cold quickly.  Stoves that are lined or insulated hold the heat much longer and continue to radiate it outward prolonging the heat.  And, the truck, well, without plugging it in to keep it warm, you can't leave it too long a trailhead.  Otherwise, it won't start when you return.
On one outing over to Denali NP for a short walk he was stopped just a mile from the cabin enjoying the morning sundogs.

In the photo above you can see the sun piercing through the spruce branches, and in the photo below you can see both sundogs and the sun shining over the ridge.

Mt. Healy behind the park sign.
The road is plowed up to the park headquarters.  From then, the only way in is by snowshoe, ski, or dog team.
Looking down at the railroad tracks.

 Another afternoon Andrew decided to drive down a little ways past Cantwell, 30 miles south of the park, to a beautiful open spot in the Alaska Range of rolling tundra up to the mountains.
 Another sundog
 Beautiful blue skies and low angle sunlight.

 Near that area he saw the big mountain rising above the range, so he decided to drive a little further south to the southern viewpoint at the state park.

 That's the range as seen from the southern viewpoint with a nice broad river bed stretched out below it.

 As he was waiting for the evening alpenglow on Denali a lone wolf appeared trotting down the riverbed.
 Denali's evening alpenglow
 These pictures were taken while out on a hike on the Stampede Trail.  He said this was probably the frostiest he has ever been.
 The trail is nicely packed by snow machines and dog teams.

 And everywhere else is nicely windswept.
Throughout his time at the cabin he completed a project that he wanted to do over the summer...build a ladder for our loft.  We had one made of 2x4s, but this log ladder has so much more character!  I love it and can't wait to see it in person!

Colorado Creek

Out for a hike on a neighborhood trail!  And the sunlight is coming back...brilliantly!  It's a month after the winter solstice and we have almost 6 hours of daylight and 8 hours of visible light.  The days are more beautiful than ever.  It is such a joy getting out and seeing the change.

I love these birch tree pockets!
Pulling a sled is part of the training for Denali.

A great day for a winter walk!

Dog Sledding the Denali Highway

What a way to kick off the new year!  On the 2nd, Andrew and I left to go down to the Denali Highway on a training trip with the sled dogs!  We covered 220 miles in four days (40 on two days, 60 one day, and 80 the other day).  We got a little mix of everything with weather, sun, snow and wind.  We saw temperatures from one above to twenty-eight below!  We stayed three nights at the Maclaren River Lodge which is about 42 miles from Paxson.
These first few pictures were taken on the drive down the Richardson Highway.  The wind was whipping over the mountains making them appear blurry with clouds of snow.

Some nice light though!

These pictures are from the second, third and forth days.  We started the 40 mile run out  to the Maclaren  River Lodge as it was getting dark on the first day so no pictures from that.  The original plan was to bring two snowmobiles along, one for Sonny and one for Andrew.  We had to haul so much food for the dogs and gear out there that we needed two utility sleds along that would be towed by the snowmobiles.  It turned out that only one snowmobile made the trip so Sonny drove the it with his 14-dog team in front of it, two utility sleds and a dog sled with Andrew on it behind the snowmobile.  We added it up and that totaled to be about a one hundred foot train!  And the dog food that I mentioned...500 pounds!  400 pounds of pureed frozen meat and 100 pounds of dry kibble.  I think we ended up bringing about 100 pounds back home.
I was always in the middle between Sonny and his daughter, Ava, who also races dogs.  I had a 10-dog team and Ava had a 12-dog team.
                                                The sun was starting to pop up on the right.
                                      This was the most sunlight that actually hit us the whole trip.

This was the shadow of Andrew and Sonny's train with just one utility sled here.
Beautiful Mt. Deborah
              Here I come....catching up for a moment!  Love those happy dogs!  You can see them smiling.

Andrew's self portrait with the frosty wolf ruff around his face.

Andrew said we looked like a steam locomotive when he looked back.  All the dogs breath was steaming right up and coming back at me on the sled.
A gorgeous day as we headed back to Paxson.
                                                                    Ava waving "hi!"

                   Ravens followed us for miles hoping to see a few meat scraps being left behind.

That is Andrew riding the dog sled being pulled behind the snowmobile.  He did drive the snowmobile with back-up gear separately too when Sonny drove his dogs with the dog sled.
My couple of pictures with the little camera.  I love the saying, "the view is always the same unless you're the lead dog!"
What an awesome trip!!!  Does life get any better?!?!