First hike of the calendar year and the only "winter" camp of the year. Winter is in quotes, because it wasn't very cold and we are starting to melt.
So to start with the trail head was supposed
to be at mile 103 of the Elliot Hwy and while I didn't expect exactness, it was actually mile 128... The road from my place to where the Haul road breaks off was in excellent shape, but was 35-40 mph after that. Found the trail head, parking wasn't plowed out yet (I'd passed a plow), however there was a plowed in area very close to the trail head that had a truck with a snowmachine trailer, so I parked there and hoped no one would chain me in.
I putzed around and played with my snow shoes... Found me and my backpack were too heavy for the type of snowshoes / type of snow.
So I packed the snowshoes on the unweighed but heavy backpack. I have done day hikes with emergency gear, but never a full blown winter pack.
Hiked out to the trail and found it well packed. Since the trail is a use trail, not a well marked / maintained trail I had my GPS with some estimate of where the trail was and a definite marker for where the hot springs were located.
The hike was kinda boring. I should have bought a sled and pulled my pack since it was so flat. There was a bunch of burned out area as well. BLAH. I got blisters because I wore my bunny boots - I could have totally done this in my tennis shoes had I known there would be so little overflow and that the whole trail would be packed down - but you don't know ahead of time on this type of trail.
The hot springs were HOT! There was another couple there that was using the area as a base camp for snowmachining - which I think might be the way to go with winter camping (snowmaching all the heavy / warm equimpment in
I used everything I brought except my snowshoes. I slept really warm and comfortable - did wake up once coldish and ate some cheese and drank more water which warmed me right back up again. I didn't see a lot of wildlife, though I did see a lot of moose sign.
The two best parts of the trip were that the hot springs were HOT and the absolutely gorgeous drive. Not a cloud in the sky, intense blue sky, the snow covered hills, the snow covered mountains - just gorgeous.
Hot Springs are beyond the big green tent (not mine) and to the right.
Trail through burn.
One of three spots of overflow.