COLDSMOKE CHRONICLES: EXPLORING THE ALASKAN BACKCOUNTRY

When Trevor Olsen and best buddy Brandon Baker told us about a trip they were planning into the Alaskan backcountry just as the seasons turned, we jumped at the chance to get our new Alpha-lite Pullover, Alpha-lite Bomber, eVent Shadow Anorak, and MA-1 jackets on their backs where they could be put to the test in a most unpredictable and demanding environment.

Gear in hand, Trevor and Brandon waisted no time, going straight from the airport to the trailhead of the Gold Mint Hut trail in Hatcher Pass where they hiked nine miles up-valley and sheltered through a night of snow in the pass’s iconic red hut. The next day they hoofed it nine miles further into a neighboring valley where wet boots were rewarded with breathtaking expanses.

From Hatcher Pass, they drove four hours north to Denali and hiked deep into the park, spending their last days camping at Wonder Lake, famous for its views of Mt. Denali, which rises  20,000 ft into the sky. Despite its size, and because of relentless cloud cover, Mt. Denali only shows itself to 20-30% of park visitors, and it kept itself hidden until Trevor and Brandon’s last morning in the park when they woke at sunrise to clear crisp clear skies and a glorious Mt. Denali, looming above them, blanketed in fresh snow.

 

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