Social Distancing – Mt Ripinski Style

 

It’s springtime in Haines and it’s also the time of year I start getting the itch to get out of dodge and head for the hills on some overnight ski or snowshoe trips. Since the COVID madness began in earnest here recently, and the border now closed, homebase destinations are now in order.

Since being laid off from my job, countless house and other projects have taken precedence. A spell of clear and gorgeous weather inspires me to take a break from chores and do an overnight stomp up Mt Ripinski… one of our local summits.

The trail leaving the Young Road trailhead was easy to follow until it spurs with the Ridge trail, where many folks this time of year simply double back towards town via the Piedad Trail. Far fewer continue on to the summit this time of year. As a result, the trail dissapears, and I am now comitted to memory as the deep snow cover has hidden all normally familiar features.

At about treeline, I run into a guy named Harry who had been up and down Ripinski more than once this week… traveling lightly and armed with practically no gear at all. We chat for a bit and I continue on to a semi sheltered place where I can dig out a shelter platform and build some snow-igloo walls for wind protection. That night, the temps dip into the single digits, but as the sun rises over the Chilkoot Range and splatteres sunlight over the Takhinsha mountains to the NW, it warms me deeply, and after a pleasant time eating breakfast and drinking coffee, I blast up to tag the real summit and take in the changing light before descending to my camp and back down to my truck.

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