Alaskan Trail Adventure – Part 1
“Instead of the drag races, let’s go to Knick Glacier. There are some trails out there we can play on.” Brian grinned.
I smiled back at my husband. I knew he wanted to go try out the new tires and winch on his Durango. I checked the weather app on my phone. “Saturday looks rainy, but Sunday is supposed to be nice.”
“Would you want to do that on Mother’s Day?” Brian cast a glance at our four-month-old daughter sitting in the swing.
“Sure! It will be fun. I’ve never been out there, either.”
“You can take a million photos,” he said, hugging me.
During dinner the next evening, Brian told me a guy at work and his wife wanted to join us. “They go out in that area a lot, so it will be nice to have someone with us who knows the trails.”
I agreed, then gave Adam, our almost-two-year-old son, more peas.
Early Sunday morning, I got up around 4:30 am. Between Abigail and Adam, I barely slept anyway, and I had some last-minute things to pack for our day trip to the glacier. But first, I snuck out onto the front porch with a mug of tea and watched the sunrise. It was only a few minutes of peace, listening to the birds sing as they woke up before I heard the door open. Brian stepped out, with Adam wrapped in a blanket in his arms.
“Good morning.” Brian kissed my cheek.
“Morning! It’s going to be a beautiful day.” I took Adam from my husband and gave him a big hug. It wasn’t often I was able to snuggle with him since his little sister was born.
“I’m going to start loading up. Abby is still sleeping.”
I sipped the last of my tea and then took both my son and my mug into the house. I settled Adam in his chair with a banana and some dry cereal before opening the fridge. I packed a bag with extra clothes and diapers for the kids the night before and just needed to get some of the lunch things in the cooler. As I moved around the kitchen, I felt little arms go around my waist. I turned and gave my oldest daughter a proper hug.
“Is your brother up yet?” I asked Madelyn.
“He’s in the bathroom,” she replied.
Madelyn was 10, and Matthew was 6. I was surprised but glad that they were both up already since they were usually late risers.
“Well, get dressed. Be sure to grab your backpack. Did you remember some extra socks?”
“Yes, mom,” Madelyn replied, rolling her eyes.
By 8:00, we were all in the Durango and headed to the trailhead to meet Brian’s work friend. On the way, Brian told me about Scout. “He has a big ol’ Chevy truck with 39” mud bogger tires and a 6” lift. It makes my Durango with 33” IROK tires and a 3” lift look like a toy. I haven’t met his wife, Tabitha, yet. And they’re bringing their daughter. I think she’s almost a year old, but I’m not sure.”
I smiled and reached for his hand. He usually didn’t talk a lot unless he was excited.
“I’m a little worried about the water crossings. We have to cross the Knick River, Jim Creek, and Metal Creek. I’ll let Scout go first, and if his axles go below the water, we probably shouldn’t cross.”
“I’m sure it will be fine.”
We arrived at the trailhead just after 9 a.m. Scout was already there with his two Rottweilers in the back of the truck. I struck up a conversation with Tabitha about babies while the men double-checked their gear. Then it was time to drive away from the highway and into the Alaskan Wilderness.
The gravel bed was bumpy, and I kept looking back at Adam and Abby to see how they were doing. Abby was playing with the toy attached to her car seat, and Adam grinned and giggled. Maddy, like me, was trying to snap photographs despite the bouncing vehicle. Mathew just stared out the window, quiet and contemplative.
After about an hour, we headed in toward the mountains, taking a trail that was gravel and dirt with a few muddy spots. In one swampy area, we got stuck. Scout’s truck went through smoothly, but the mud was just too thick for the Durango to power through it. Brian told us all to stay put, and he got out, hooking the winch to a tree. I rolled all the windows down so the kids could hear and see what was going on as well as to feel the early summer sun on my face. Within a few minutes, we were free.
“Next time, will you show me how that works?” I asked Brian as he climbed back into the driver’s seat. I crinkled my nose at the swampy smell of the mud that clung to his boots.
He looked surprised. “Sure.”
We crossed the river and creeks without any mishaps, and Brian laughed at his previous worry. After about another hour or so, we finally made it to the glacier.
The older children all cheered when we let them out to run around. The air was crisp and the breeze coming off the glacier gave me a little chill. Scout let his dogs loose to play, and they chased Madelyn and Matthew around the vehicles, barking. Matthew was usually nervous around dogs he didn’t know, but I was pleased to see him encouraging the dogs’ play.
“Lunch!” I called.
It took both men to get the rambunctious tag game to end.
Lunch was a simple affair with sandwiches, sliced apples, and soda. I took the time to change Abby’s diaper and nurse her before we headed up over the little rise to the glacier itself. The kids thought it was great fun to walk on snow and ice with the sun shining and wearing their tennis shoes instead of boots. Tabitha and I didn’t go up very high on the glacier, burdened as we were by our infant girls.
On the way out away from the glacier, we took a little bit different route that led us past some trails close to the mountains. We went up one of these trails and stopped at an old prospector cabin perched on a hill overlooking the valley. The view was amazing with the valley spread out below us, the waterways shimmering in the afternoon light. The cabin was obviously abandoned and was being used by whoever got there first. Then we headed back down the mountain and out on the gravel bed.