Each year Alaska Pacific University offers students an opportunity to learn and travel on a glacier in their Glaciology and Glacier Travel course. Transporting gear for a baker’s dozen to stay several weeks on the glacier takes serious equipment. The first run began today as Childventure hauled in packs and skis. Every day is a gift and today it was easy to see – the warm sun and open sky welcomed us as we passed through the Eklutna valley along the lake side trail. Quickly melting snow created tiny rivers of water that crossed the trail as it made its way to the lake. With the record breaking snow fall this past winter I expected challenges behind every corner; however, the trail was easily passable for the first 10 plus miles.

School is out for Jen who decided to come along and drive.  We estimated the added weight of the gear around800 pounds. The suspension was nearly bottomed out creating an added driving challenge.  No problem for a seasoned driver.

 

Eklutna Lake East End

Eklutna Lake East End

Eklutna Lake West End

Eklutna Lake West End

Rhino along the lake

PacRat full of ski boots, ice axes, and poles covered with packs!

PacRat full of ski boots, ice axes, and poles covered with packs!

Drift wood shelter along the lake

Drift wood shelter along the lake

Shelby toughed it out on mountain bike as we rode along. The mile leading up to the bridge was deeply rutted with melting snow – too much for the narrow tires. Strapping the bike to the back of the Rhino we continued forward.

A lunch break and a gotcha - we gave up a mile back on biking in - too much snow!

A lunch break and a gotcha – we gave up a mile back on biking in – too much snow!

The depth of the snow increased as we reached the shadow of the peaks. By the East Fork of the Eklutna river the trail was nearly impassable. APU students exchanged their hiking boots for ski boots and continued on by ski. Unloading the gear from the ATVs we were able to climb the hill beyond the bridge and reload the equipment. Another mile through ever increasing slushy and deep stuff and we were done with the vehicles – only a half a mile from the hut. Winching our way through the turn around we left the students behind to continue their journey to the glacier.

Unloading at the bridge and preparing to ski in to the Serenity Falls Hut

Unloading at the bridge and preparing to ski in to the Serenity Falls Hut

Coming back from Serenity Hut - more than 3 feet of snow on the trail

Coming back from Serenity Hut - more than 3 feet of snow on the trail

The last few hundred yards of the trail before the Serenity Falls hut were impassable by ATV. The depth is well over 3 feet and the quickly melting snow made deep ruts hanging up the vehicle frames. Shoveling a spot to turn around we left the gear for the hikers to carry the remaining distance. A day in the sun and snow – what a great way to start of the week!