Delta Mountains Recon

A three day solo trip into the Delta’s (Eastern Alaska Range) to recon the approach to the north side of Icefall Peak. Turns out it would have been more like a 5 or 6 day trip to get all the way to the base of Icefall and back. It was more than I had planned, and being solo, there were features on the glacier below that disturbed me. Regardless, I was quite pleased to be out there on a good 18 mile ski round trip. The last night I was met with a severe winter storm including dumping snow and 60 mph gusts. It must have snowed close to a foot, but you wouldn’t know it due to the ferocious wind. I spent the entire night fully dressed with boots on and the pack packed minus tent and sleeping bag. The hours were spent bracing the single ski pole support and bracing the Hyperlight ‘Mid to prevent it from collapsing. It was a dicey situation to say the least. About 3 am the wind calmed quite a bit, and I bolted out into a whiteout, threw my shit in the pack, and skied out to the truck in severely limited visibility. After getting lost a couple times, I finally found myself skiing through Red Rock Canyon near Rainbow Mountain and followed a set of fresh Wolf tracks for over a mile before they dissappeared into what appeared to be a den. Another hour and I was at the truck overwhelmed with exhaustion.

Raven’s Roost

In Fairbanks this week, the thermometer marks the first time this winter where temperatures are dropping significantly below zero, with minus 28 Fahrenheit predicted for the coming nights. Last year at this time we had over two feet of snow on the ground and regular temps of minus 25-35 degrees. So far this year we have a mere 5 inches of snow and the low temp recorded at my place was minus 4 about two weeks ago. Every year is different it seems. Honestly, the amount of snow, mild temps, and ample sunshine has made this Fall and early Winter quite incredible. Perfect fat bike conditions really.

Next month also signifies the 10 year anniversary of Just Rolling By. Ten years…

2022 has been an odd year for me. It has had some major ups and downs and with not much to compare it to. Early in the year, I lost my father to illness, and after that, one “plan” after another simply toppled. Both work and play commitments ran the path of disintegration. I did not go on even one single big backcountry adventure, did not once strap crampons to boots, not once did I even unroll my pack raft, and I did not write a single article for Just Rolling By. Additionally, I took very few photographs in the process. An odd year indeed. Angela and I did manage a few day trips to different locations throughout the year however. Additionally, I did make a three day trip across the Denali Highway in June, but too much snow from a heavy winter limited my activity. I was fortunate also to have had the pleasure to go out flying with my buddy Sven on a few occasions to witness the glory of the Alaskan wilderness via its air-scape.

The big news of the year without a doubt was the purchase of a 2 acre parcel in an area of the western Goldstream Valley to the NW of Fairbanks that I now called home. After the initial purchase, I brought in over 1000 cubic yards of gravel tailings and created a nice level spot to park my Raven tiny home truck cabin, plus attached driveway. Raven’s Roost as I have dubbed it, is a beautiful and secluded spot surrounded by ski and fat bike trails out my doorstep and only a mere 8 miles from town. It has the solitude and quiet I need yet with accessibility at hand. I cut numerous trees and have plans to cut even more next summer for a cabin building site and additional sunlight. I needed both an outhouse and a storage shed so I built one in the same. When the Northstar Borough property tax assessor came by to appraise the property, he was impressed by the “nicest outhouse I’ve ever seen”, informing me that he thought at first it was simply a really nice storage shed till he saw the toilet seat. To my delight, he said that the borough does not add taxable value to outhouses. That said, I must brag a little; the outhouse, dubbed “Odin’s Place” is without a doubt a work of art. I wanted to get creative and show off some woodworking and I’m pretty pleased with the results. Next summer I will build a door for it and apply a good coat of varnish to the entire structure.

I have been living at Raven’s Roost for almost 7 months now with this winter being my first on my own land in Fairbanks. So far I have seen both Lynx and Moose on the property, not to mention the endless Rabbit tracks criss-crossing the landscape.

Hard to say what next year holds exactly – So many things needing attention and I really want to get started on building a proper 16′ X 28′ foot cabin, as The Raven is a temporary living arrangement with this being my 2nd winter in it. I am sincerely hoping to take off much of next spring and summer in order to pursue my dreams of getting into the Brooks Range and Alaska Range for pack rafting, mountaineering, and work related activities.

This winter I am working just 3 days a week at a temporary job to get through the winter; this allows for time spent enjoying the winter by means of riding my fat bike, skiing, going to the gym, and taking care of myself.

With any luck, Just Rolling By in its 11th year will be a time of resurrection with pages filled with adventure writing and photography.

Click on images in the gallery below to view individual larger images.

If you enjoy visiting Just Rolling By, drop me a note in the comments and say hello…

Critter Count

Total critter count for a rainy day today exploring the beautiful and vast sub alpine areas surrounding Donnelly Dome south of Delta, Alaska today… two bull Caribou, one Bull Moose, one cow Moose, three Northern Hawk Owls, two Hoary Marmots, about a dozen Arctic Hares and five wild Bison. While stomping back to the truck through the brush and coming to an open and muddy clearing, a fresh set of Grizzly tracks reveal themselves, heading deeper into the bush. I love this part of Alaska…

…Coming up in the near future: Tales of mountaineering in Alaska’s far eastern Alaska Range, aka the Delta Mountains, featuring success, failure, and all things in between, including some nifty photography… stay tuned.

Bull Moose_Delta
Bull Moose

Bull Caribou_Delta
Bull Caribou