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Thread: New to Hiking need advise.

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default New to Hiking need advise.

    Was just wondering if I might get a little advise from those who know. I have a book af 100 trails in AK but would like to know what trails would be good for a beginer, day hike and/or overnighter? Also was curious as to what, if any, rules and regs should I be aware of? Ecpecially when it comes to camping and making a camp fire. We have started buying our gear but could always use some tips and tricks on what to bring. Thanks for your time.

    Doug

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    Welcome to hiking in Alaska! Everyone has their favorites, but I log the most hiking close to home in & near Chugach State Park, picking routes out of Glen Alps, Prospect Heights, the south Fork of Eagle River and out of the Eagle River visitor center.

    If you're downtown some time, stop in at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in the old federal building at 4th & F. They have park brochures, other maps, and folks who have been in town a long time and can give good advice on trails, camping, gear, regulations, etc. It's a sort of one-stop shop for state & federal land information.

    If you find yourself heading to the state park very often, you'll be money ahead buying a parking pass. Otherwise you'll be looking for $5 for many of the parking lots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toofewweekends View Post
    Welcome to hiking in Alaska! Everyone has their favorites, but I log the most hiking close to home in & near Chugach State Park, picking routes out of Glen Alps, Prospect Heights, the south Fork of Eagle River and out of the Eagle River visitor center.

    If you're downtown some time, stop in at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in the old federal building at 4th & F. They have park brochures, other maps, and folks who have been in town a long time and can give good advice on trails, camping, gear, regulations, etc. It's a sort of one-stop shop for state & federal land information.

    If you find yourself heading to the state park very often, you'll be money ahead buying a parking pass. Otherwise you'll be looking for $5 for many of the parking lots.
    Thanks I'll check that place out. We are planning our first hike for summer at the South Fork Eagle River Trail. I heard there are lots of bears there so we'll packing bear spray as well. We will probably stick to the trails near Eagle River and head to Independance Mine a few more times. Thanks again for the info.

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    I just did a search for you and it looks as if there are meet up groups that you can go with to hike:

    http://hiking.meetup.com/cities/us/ak/anchorage/

    The first 2 look really interesting.
    First one looks as if there are less than the 2nd group, though.
    Next meet up is tomorrow.
    The other group has a meet up on January 5th.

    Are you looking for an actual hike, a climb, bouldering? Hikes are usually on trails. Climbs are up mountain sides that are steep. Bouldering is climbing on actual rocks that have no trails.

    My definition of hiking has changed since living in Alaska. I don't know where you are from, but for the longest time, I told people that I wanted to go hiking when in actuality, I wanted to go climbing.

    So... hiking is what you want to do?
    Lurker.

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    I just did a search for you and it looks as if there are meet up groups that you can go with to hike:

    http://hiking.meetup.com/cities/us/ak/anchorage/

    The first 2 look really interesting.
    First one looks as if there are less than the 2nd group, though.
    Next meet up is tomorrow.
    The other group has a meet up on January 5th.

    Are you looking for an actual hike, a climb, bouldering? Hikes are usually on trails. Climbs are up mountain sides that are steep. Bouldering is climbing on actual rocks that have no trails.

    My definition of hiking has changed since living in Alaska. I don't know where you are from, but for the longest time, I told people that I wanted to go hiking when in actuality, I wanted to go climbing.

    So... hiking is what you want to do?
    For now I think I'll stick to Trail Hiking and leave the climbing and bouldering to you. Not sure I can handle all that just yet, I better pace myself. Plus I doubt the wife will like climbing too much. Thanks for the link looks interesting.

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    Is this the book you have?

    http://www.rei.com/product/673366

    This is a great book for getting started and has many great hikes in it.

    Also, get one of these at REI in town:

    http://www.rei.com/product/667411

    Lots of great hikes in town. Look these two references over and you'll find tons of info. PM me with any specific questions about hikes or other hiking/camping stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hre814 View Post
    Is this the book you have?

    http://www.rei.com/product/673366

    This is a great book for getting started and has many great hikes in it.

    Also, get one of these at REI in town:

    http://www.rei.com/product/667411

    Lots of great hikes in town. Look these two references over and you'll find tons of info. PM me with any specific questions about hikes or other hiking/camping stuff.
    This is the one I have: http://www.rei.com/product/749098

    I do need some maps of the areas, thought about registering at trails.com for $49.95/year I'll have access to any topo map plus weather reports among other things.

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    i wouldn't do trails.com. b/w that chugach map i noted and the national geo map system at rei or sportsman's wharehouse, where you can print out any area you need on good paper, i wouldn't do trails.com.

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    Tips! It rains a lot in some places in Alaska, so most of my tidbits are about dealing with wetness:

    Bring nice raingear & good waterproof footwear. Store everything that's in your pack inside something water repellant, like ziplocks or stuffsacks. It's also good to have a pack that has mesh pockets on the outside so you can let things air dry when you get the chance.

    I've found that canister stoves are very quick & convenient to use compared to bottle fuel stoves, but they need to be kept dry to start easily, so don't leave them sitting in the open overnight. They also don't perform very well at high altitude. Campfires can be tough to build if all the wood around you is wet.

    I prefer synthetic sleeping bags & jackets over down. Down's warmer, but only if it stays dry. Wool clothing stays pretty warm if it gets wet, but I still prefer synthetics because they don't soak up as much water.

    Look around before you pitch your tent. Boggy areas will be loaded with noseeums that can fly through netting, and low areas can become puddles in the middle of the night if it rains. Also stay above the high tide line if you sleep on the beach.

    A lot of areas don't have trees, so I store my food in a bear canister instead of a hanging bag. They also keep food dry.
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfeye View Post
    Tips! It rains a lot in some places in Alaska, so most of my tidbits are about dealing with wetness:

    Bring nice raingear & good waterproof footwear. Store everything that's in your pack inside something water repellant, like ziplocks or stuffsacks. It's also good to have a pack that has mesh pockets on the outside so you can let things air dry when you get the chance.

    I've found that canister stoves are very quick & convenient to use compared to bottle fuel stoves, but they need to be kept dry to start easily, so don't leave them sitting in the open overnight. They also don't perform very well at high altitude. Campfires can be tough to build if all the wood around you is wet.

    I prefer synthetic sleeping bags & jackets over down. Down's warmer, but only if it stays dry. Wool clothing stays pretty warm if it gets wet, but I still prefer synthetics because they don't soak up as much water.

    Look around before you pitch your tent. Boggy areas will be loaded with noseeums that can fly through netting, and low areas can become puddles in the middle of the night if it rains. Also stay above the high tide line if you sleep on the beach.

    A lot of areas don't have trees, so I store my food in a bear canister instead of a hanging bag. They also keep food dry.
    Well so far most of the things you suggested I've done... got a pack cover, store things in stuff sacks, have a synthetic sleeping bag, still haven't bought a stove so I'll check out the one you recomended. I have my military issue gortex but am looking at a smaller lighter set of rain gear. Any suggestions on what brand to get? And about the bear canisters, how bulky are they? Where could I get them? Thanks for the tips, never even thought about some of that.

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    Member 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Bear resistant food container.

    http://www.rei.com/product/709075
    Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North
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    Also, make sure to get a holster for your bear spray so you will be more likely to have it on hand if you need it.
    Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North
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  13. #13

    Default Odds and ends about hiking in AK

    Some good stuff in the other replies. A few other comments:

    People have already mentioned raingear and synthetic clothing. Just to amplify that a bit, even in summer most places in AK can get some pretty gnarly weather and it can come on fast. Even on a warm sunny day I won't leave the trailhead without at least a rain/wind proof jacket, some sort of synthetic or wool insulation layer, and a hat. Everybody worries about bears, but I think on any given hike you have a much higher chance of dying from hypothermia than a bear!

    In general, trails in AK are a lot more difficult than in many areas down South. Often what the guidebook calls a "trail" is really just a cross country route that has been used a lot. Don't expect a lot of trail maintenance or signs. There are exceptions, there are some fairly good trails near town in Chugach Park, and down on the Kenai Penninsula, but in general most trails will be steeper, rougher, and less well marked than in other parts of the country.

    It is really really really big country, and being able to navigate is important. I'm kind of old school about it. I think everyone should be fairly skilled with a map and compass before venturing very far. A GPS is handy, but you should have the skills and confidence to find your way without one.

    Learn about bear safety, especially how to avoid trouble in the first place. Like I mentioned above, bears aren't the biggest threat to safety, but that doesn't mean they are harmless! Be alert, keep a clean camp, make noise (especially in brush), and carry bear spray where you can reach it in an instant.

    Don't let any of this scare you off. Alaska is an awesome place to hike. The scenary is amazing, it's easy to get away from the crowds, and there are more good established hikes than one could do in several lifetimes. If you go searching for your own routes, the possibilities are limitless!

    Some good hiking guides are:
    "55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska" by Nienhueser and Wolfe
    "50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park" by Sheperd and Wozniak
    "Hiking Alaska" by Littlepage
    "Denali National Park Guide to Hiking, Photography & Camping" by Waits
    "Walkabout Guide to Alaska" (3 Vols) by Shawn Lyons

    Have fun and see you on the trail!

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    Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. Some realy good tips. I think I'm pretty good on gear or at least what I will need to bring with me. I also bought the "Hiking Alaska" book as recommended. For clothing I plan on taking extra socks- 2 pair, extra shirt and pants, poly-pro top and bottom, a fleece jacket and rain gear. Plus food for at least one extra day, just in case, water purification items, first aid kit, survival kit, tet, sleeping bag and pad, well you get the idea. Realized that it's going to take some serious planning to get it al to fit in my pack though.

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    any decent raingear will do. the non-ABU gortex jacket (woodland bdu) is a really large paperweight. that stuff doesn't keep you dry. the seams are not taped as the new ABU gortex is. some lower priced good stuff is the Marmot precip jacket and pants. i have the full zip pants and love them. i have a very lightweight gortex rain jacket. if you want to spend some more cash, the rei shuskan (i think that is the name) is made with eVent fabric which breathes a lot better then gortex but requires more frequent cleanings.

    i go with canister stove as they are very simple to work. if you get into flying into the bush in subsequent years, you'll need a white gas stove.

    what boots did you end up getting?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hre814 View Post
    any decent raingear will do. the non-ABU gortex jacket (woodland bdu) is a really large paperweight. that stuff doesn't keep you dry. the seams are not taped as the new ABU gortex is. some lower priced good stuff is the Marmot precip jacket and pants. i have the full zip pants and love them. i have a very lightweight gortex rain jacket. if you want to spend some more cash, the rei shuskan (i think that is the name) is made with eVent fabric which breathes a lot better then gortex but requires more frequent cleanings.

    i go with canister stove as they are very simple to work. if you get into flying into the bush in subsequent years, you'll need a white gas stove.

    what boots did you end up getting?
    Yeah I was going to take my DCU gortex stuff but found this: http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...equestid=30787
    I think this might be better.

    The boots I got are Hi-Tec Altitude IV and the wife got Merrell Siren Sports. Hope these are good.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by doug1980 View Post
    ...still haven't bought a stove so I'll check out the one you recomended. I have my military issue gortex but am looking at a smaller lighter set of rain gear. Any suggestions on what brand to get? And about the bear canisters, how bulky are they? Where could I get them?
    I use a Snowpeak Gigapower stove. It's light & compact, but it's been around a while and there are probably better ones available these days.

    My favorite lightweight raingear are available from Cabela's; they're their "Ultrapack" model and the top & bottom weigh something like 13 oz together. They're Goretex and breathe alright, but they've suffered from one tiny rip from an offtrail excursion. That's pretty typical compared to other light raingear I've used. I'm very pleased with them, at least for hikes from late spring through early fall.

    The best bear canister for the money is probably the Bear Vault. I had one for a few years, and it's nicer than other brands in that it has a wide mouth and doesn't need any tools to use. It's also slightly lighter than most other models. You can get them most anywhere that sells camping gear. My favorite canister is from Wild Ideas, called the Bearikade. It weighs noticeably less, but it's very expensive.

    Canisters are about as bulky as big sleeping bags. I can fit mine horizontally in the bottom of my pack and still fit everything else in there except my sleeping pad, but I have to use compression stuffsacks for the clothes, bag, and tent. I think my pack's only about 3200 ci, but I learned to pack very light, which helped a lot to make everything fit.

    If you'd like to learn more about cutting back on gear weight, you might try these websites: http://www.backpacking.net/, http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...ght/index.html

    Hope this helps!
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

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    the suggestion of the laying the bear canister horizontally in the bottom of the pack is what i do as well. if you are not going to be doing a lot of overnighters, but mostly day hikes, you can rent the canisters from REI or AMH downtown.

    the gigapower is a good lightweight stove and suggestion. i have a primus that is similar with a self-igniter, that has lasted us for years.

    i have one of those ultrapack jackets from cabelas, in camo. at least i think it is the ultrapack one. mine isn't gortex but cabela's own brand of waterproof membrane. it doesn't breath too well, but it gets the job done and is VERY light.

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    I guess I am surprised at all the bear canister users! I would never consider carrying a bear canister on a day hike. The only time I would consider carrying one is if I was going to be setting up a camp and leaving it even then the bulk and weight make it a PITA. I carry almost exclusively freeze dried or vacuum sealed food and I will usually cache it away from camp and burn any trash. With all my food sealed I can't see the purpose of a canister. I would definitely consider carrying a bear fence though especially for rafting! I would make sure it was big enough to surround my tent and raft! For me the only bear barrel I carry is the 23" one screwed to the action and trigger assembly on my Browning A-bolt.

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    i don't use bear canisters on day hikes, no way!!! what i meant above was that if you are not going to be doing a lot of overnighters in the summer or year after year, but maybe only once a summer, i would suggest renting the canisters for your overnighters instead of buying them. don't lug one of these around on day hikes, unless you really want the workout

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