Husky House


Yukon Quest Purse Party

Hobo Jim at the Yukon Quest Purse Party

Bill enjoying Hobo Jim at the Yukon Quest Purse Party

Last night we attended the first, and I hope annual, Yukon Quest Purse Party held at the Mushers Hall.  This was a great event!  Alaskan Brewing Co. donated at least four types of Alaskan beer as well as commemorative beer glasses, now that’s a great sponsor!  ALL of the proceeds went toward the YQ purse.  And Hobo Jim played for the evening.

Husky House is a proud sponsor of the Yukon Quest.

Commemorative glass from the Yukon Quest Purse Party

Hiking on Primrose Ridge & Mt Margaret (Denali Park)

Okay, time for another update and recreation of the past.  It’s been a bit chilly in Fairbanks this week, ranging 20-30 below downtown and about 10-15 below in the hills.  After my last ski attempt, I had all my cross country skis cleaned and waxed, and I’m waiting for it to warm (better glide) a bit before heading out on the trails.  It took about three nights in the thermal bag to salvage my skate skis.  So, I guess that being able to classical ski with skate skis is not a good thing!  In the meantime, we’re running with the boys, who love this cold weather!  So it is with warmer weather in mind that I look to the past and recreate hiking on Primrose Ridge in Denali Park.

I’ve had this hike in mind for several years, and this summer (2010) I finally located the “trailhead.”   Don’t ask park rangers for the trailhead, because this is not a maintained trail and therefore doesn’t have a sanctioned trailhead, just ask them where to access Primrose Ridge.  They seem squeamish about using “trailhead” for what is a backcountry trail.  Primrose Ridge and Mt Margaret are mutually inclusive.  As far as the trail, you can follow line of sight to the top, meander along animal footpaths or follow whatever path there may be.

The access to Primrose Ridge is about two miles west of the Savage River checkpoint, which means you must be creative about getting there, because private vehicles are restricted west of the Savage River Bridge during the summer season.  You can take one of the buses or you can park your vehicle at Savage River and either walk in or bike in to the access points, which, by the way, are not marked.  We chose to bike in from Savage River, which, despite being only two miles, is two miles uphill. A good access point is across from the rest stop (handicapped parking area), but since there is no formal trailhead, you can head up Primrose wherever the going looks good.  You may have to hike through some alders for a while, but will emerge to a wide open panorama.

Primrose Ridge is an easy hike, and the panorama is stunning, well worth any effort expended to view it.  It is an unobstructed, 380 degree rejuvenation.  I find myself not wanting to take my eyes off it, thinking that if I continue to soak it up it will be imprinted in my memory forever.  Even the best photo cannot do it justice, unless you can take a 360 degree photograph.  Aside from the view, other nice things about Primrose are that it is relatively accessible, easy, and doable as a day hike.  Oh, and Mt McKinley is visible from Primrose!  Be careful that the long daylight hours don’t lull you into a false sense of security, because if you are dependent on taking the last shuttle bus from Savage River, you need to come back to reality and check your watch.

You can hike Primrose as an out and back or you can follow your sense of direction east to a rocky outcrop where the “trail” descends to Savage River about a mile north of the Savage River Bridge.  We haven’t tried this yet, but it is on the radar.

Bill emerging from the alders at one of the access points to Primrose Ridge

Bill hiking down Primrose Ridge. Once you crest the ridge, it seems like you can hike forever!

Bill biking to Primrose from Savage River

A late afternoon shadow on Primrose

Enjoying the view from Primrose Ridge with the Park Road in the foreground

An evening view of Mt McKinley from Primrose Ridge. This is one reason you won't want to leave.

I met this caribou while hiking up Primrose Ridge, it was a surprise for both of us!

Bill hiking up Primrose enjoying the autumn vibrancy

For more photos of Primrose Ridge, visit the following galleries: Denali Autumn Tapestry and Primrose Ridge

Teklanika Bike Ride (May 2010)

Okay, I’m continuing with my attempt to recreate some of the lost posts.  There is no particular order to this, just whatever I feel like tackling.

Our favorite lodge in the Denali Park area (McKinley Village Lodge) opened for the season on May 24, so we headed down that way for a couple days.  The first day we hiked the Triple Lakes Trail from end to end and the next day we rode our bikes from Teklanika out (east) to the Wilderness Access Center, about 30 miles.  To do this requires a bit of planning, which isn’t our specialty.  Then again, maybe the problem is in the execution.

First, a few words on  Park operations.  The Park Road is not maintained during the winter, and once snow falls it is closed at the Park Headquarters (mile 3) until after the Spring Road Opening, at which time private vehicles may access the Park as far as the Teklanika Campground at mile 29.  Once the summer season starts and tour buses start running, the Park Road is closed to private vehicles at Savage River, mile 15.  At the end of the season, mid-September, the Park Road opens to Wonder Lake (weather permitting) for four days to winners of the Denali Park Road Lottery.  Once the lottery drive-in ends, the road is once again open to Teklanika until conditions dictate its closure.  The Park Road is paved as far as Savage River, after that it is dirt/gravel.

Memorial Day was May 31, so the full shuttle bus schedule into the Park was not yet in effect and tourist traffic was still light.  We made reservations for us and our bicycles on a camper bus that dropped us off at Teklanika (mile 29), although we could have gone as far as the Eielson Visitors Center, about 66 miles.  The buses to Wonder Lake don’t run until the first week of June.  It was tempting to go beyond Tek, but discretion being the better part of valor, we settled on the 30 mile ride.  The bus dropped us off and we unloaded our bikes and gear, then waved goodbye as the bus pulled away on its way to the Eielson Visitors Center.  The round trip to Eielson is about 5 to 6 hours, depending on wildlife sitings, and, although we had no time schedule, we had hoped to beat the bus back to the Wilderness Access Center.  It was an absolutely perfect day, and I was so excited about the ride, as it was something I had wanted to do for a long time.  We had packed plenty of snacks and beverages and stuffed them everywhere we could before biking off down the road.  We took our time, enjoying the majesty of the park and the Utopian day.  It was Nirvana: paradise, heaven, bliss, ecstasy, joy, peace, serenity, tranquility.  Several years ago I became frustrated with flat tires and switched to kevlar lined tires, and I have blissfully biked without a single flat ever since.  Not so, Bill.  After peddling the long climb before a nice 2 mile downhill coast to Savage River, Bill got a flat tire.  No problem, right,  3 spare tubes to choose from.  Not so fast, all 3 were bad.  It took us about an hour to get a fix and move on, during which time we waved at a few buses, including our camper bus, as they passed by.  East of Savage River the road was paved and the riding smooth.  Despite the flat, it was a great ride, and we earned our pizza, beer and ice cream.

I consider biking in Denali Park a privilege, and I still have a goal to bike the entire 92 mile length of the Park Road, I just need to either work the logistics to avoid camping or get in shape to bike it all in one day.

Nirvana. Mt McKinley, all 20,320 feet. My Inspiration.

Bill fixing his flat tire

There are more photos in my gallery.

Triple Lakes Hike (Denali)

Since not much is happening here right now, I thought I would summarize some of the earlier blog posts that were lost when the old site was taken offline.

The Triple Lakes trailhead is just off the Parks Highway about seven miles south of the Denali Park entrance at the north side of the Nenana River bridge (mile 231.3).  I should probably say the southern trailhead, because with the late summer 2010 completion of the footbridge across Riley Creek, and recent trail improvement on the north end, there may now be an actual northern trailhead accessible from the railway station or the visitors center.  I say that because of our experience hiking the trail end to end last May (2010), which I will get to later.

We have hiked this trail numerous times and enjoy it for its beautiful vistas (it’s Denali, that goes without saying!) and versatility as either an out and back trail or an end-to-end trail (7 or 8 miles).  If you hike to the end of the third lake and back, it is about 5 miles.  The trail on this end is excellent with opportunities to drop off onto the unbeaten path.  I’m not a fan of out and back, once I get on a trail I want to go wherever it goes, see what is around the next bend.  So, after several out and back hikes on Triple Lakes from the south trailhead, I had pushed Bill around so many “just one more bends” that we were well beyond the halfway point and were determined to venture on to the north end of the trail.  For the most part, this is a great trail with ongoing maintenance and improvement.  The trail was in great shape and easy to follow until the last couple miles when it descends from the ridge down to Riley Creek at the northern end.  At this point there were signs indicating that trail work (rerouting) was in progress and to follow the old trail, which we kept losing as it was either overgrown, washed out, underwater, poorly marked or all the above.  When we finally made it to Riley Creek it was too deep and fast to traverse, something we were aware of because it was May and melting snow and ice made the runoff furious.  We knew we had to take the forbidden passage across the Alaska Railroad bridge, which made it so much more sweet, and  after all, was a perk associated with completing the trek.

Toward the end of summer 2010 the park service completed the bridge (awesome!) across Riley Creek, and there were signs of trail improvement from the north end. This coming summer we will start the hike from the north end and check it out.  I can’t wait!

Bill walking across planks on a soggy trail before the trail climbs (south end)

Gaining elevation along the triple lakes trail

The second and third lakes along the triple lakes trail

The panoramic views are worth every ounce of effort

The trail on the north end heading toward Riley Creek

Crossing the forbidden bridge was oh so sweet!

The long-awaited bridge across Riley Creek (Aug 2010)

There are  many more photos in my gallery, see August 2009 and May 2010!

Skiing at Last!

Today I finally rounded up all my gear (really had to hunt for the boots) and went skiing at Creamer’s Field solo, just me, no boys.  I always need at least one solo outing before hooking up the boys.  I decided to use Bill’s skate skis instead of mine, since his had not been used since they were waxed several years ago and mine are in dire need of waxing.  We have about 4 inches of new powder on the trails on top of crud from the warm weather earlier in the week.  I was excited to be out and ready to skate!   However, my first few attempts at gliding told me this was going to be a workout, the skis had NO glide.  About half way around the front field I saw a skier and a skijorer going the opposite direction on a parallel trail in the woods and decided to follow in their tracks.  It was so much easier than breaking trail, and I think I had finally abraded  enough of the accumulated grime from the skis that I started to get some glide and even  managed to skate a bit, not pretty, but functional.  All the skis are  in the back of the Jeep to take to get cleaned and waxed before my next go.   Despite that, I had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed the solitude and beauty of winter and can’t wait to ski again.

ET update:   ET is much better, the Rimadyl and antibiotics are doing their job on his broken toenail and he is no longer limping. He was prancing with his tail high on his walk this morning  and playing with the other boys.  It’s so good to see him back to normal.

Skijor signs at Creamer's Field

Trail through the woods at Creamer's Field

Snow covered bridge at Creamer's Field

First Snowmachine Ride of 2011

The balmy weather continued Monday, so we decided to take a reconnaissance ride down the Tanana River and into the Tanana Flats.  It is always a time-consuming struggle finding all the clothes, boots, helmets, hats, gloves, etc and getting dressed for the first time.  We are fortunate to live where we can ride to the river from our house:  turn right from the driveway, another right about a quarter mile down the road, another quarter mile and a left turn down a hill along the power line then ride alongside the road about a half  mile to the river and then we can ride forever!  We took our SPOT GPS tracker along for a test to map our ride, and I was disappointed with the results.  The SPOT marks waypoints every 10 minutes, then connects them with a straight line.  Of course, the river isn’t straight and neither is anyone’s path, so while we followed the winding river, the SPOT map shows us cutting from point to point along a straight path.  I had noticed this during the Yukon Quest, as they also use SPOT devices to track mushers, but the bulb was dim and I didn’t get the big picture.

Anyway, we had a great ride, and the trail was in good condition for the relative lack of snow.  Just as the complexion of the river changes from season to season, it changes from year to year. There wasn’t  as much jumble ice on the river this year as last year and the river crossing points were a bit different.  I didn’t see any open water like I did last year, of course we have just come off of two weeks of 20-40 below temps.  We didn’t ride very far, just about 12 miles out (24 total) as we started late and daylight this time of the year is still relatively scarce, around four hours.  It was a fun ride and I hope to go again soon.

There are more photos in my gallery.

Bill taking a photo

The tunnel from the slough to the woods

Sunset in the Tanana Flats

It’s Positively Balmy!

It was 37 degrees above at the house today, about 15-20 degrees warmer than down on the river.  I budgeted the 4 hours of daylight better today and was able to both run and then dig out two of the snowmachines (the Arctic Cat 500s) from under this winter’s snowfall.  Since it was so warm, they were fairly easy to start (after sitting for 9 months) and I ran mine around the neighborhood.  The forecast is for relatively warm weather this week, so we hope to take a short ride down the Tanana River and out into the flats to check it out.  Once again we are way behind (about 2 feet) on snow, it is too bad all that good snow was wasted on the east coast where it wasn’t appreciated!

The Cats are warmed up and ready to go!

Heat Wave….

Remember the 1960s song Heat Wave by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas?  Well, it’s been going through my brain all day today.  It’s about 20 degrees ABOVE on the Ridge today, this after a December that boasted the longest cold streak in Fairbanks in over 30 years, which ended Thursday when the temperature at the airport rose above zero for the first time since December 4.  The temperature during this period ranged between 20 and 41 below (at the airport, the official station)  but lower in outlying areas, and higher in the hills when there was an inversion.  According to the News-Miner, ” ‘By Fairbanks standards, it was pretty darn wimpy…there was not really any deep cold.  It was just persistently chilly.’ ”  Regardless of what you call it, I am enjoying our slight reprieve from the cold and thoroughly enjoyed my run with Pelly today. ET has a sore paw and stayed home to convalesce, and Bill ran with Clem and Dawson.  It is a great start to the new year!

The boys, or at least a couple of them, are still in the Christmas package opening/destruction mode.  In the past couple days they have destroyed two pairs of 180s (earmuffs),  devoured a bag of biscotti and were starting on the second one when we caught them,  stolen their toys off the dryer, and various other obnoxious (but cute) behaviors.

Only Two More Days….

2010 is almost history and I remember sitting here a year ago summarizing 2009 like it was yesterday.  We had a great year, especially the summer, which we spent going back and forth to Denali Park, spending a total of 21 blissful days hiking, biking, running and eating at out favorite pizza place.   I’m looking forward to that again in 2011.

The boys enjoyed Christmas, especially ET who opened all the boys’ presents and destroyed each one within 60 seconds.  Poor Clem took refuge on a sofa away from ET’s frenzy.  Pelly and Dawson were relatively new to the present unwrapping, but enjoyed the toys while they could keep them away from ET.   About 3:30 the next morning , ET woke me up, supposedly to go outside, but when I opened the bedroom door, he ran downstairs and went to the Christmas tree looking for more presents.   Who says dogs aren’t smart?

Pelly was the only one that wanted this toy!

I look so silly in this, Mom....

We are out of the deep freeze we had for most of December, with yesterday’s and today’s temperatures holding around zero.  Since there was no inversion and the temperature was the same here and at the University, we took the boys to the University for a run for the first time in over a month.  It was good to run there again, and the boys like it, especially running past the reindeer!

Christmas Eve

I hate to admit it, but I spent the afternoon riding around with Bill and the boys (and waiting in the Jeep) while Bill finished his Christmas shopping, instead of wrapping gifts.  There’s something about knowing nothing will be open tomorrow that makes me need that last minute fix.  Reminds me of an old PP&M song called “Yuppies in the Sky,”  where the yuppies are out trying to spend money, credit cards at the ready, but no stores are open.  However, after being out in the last minute crush, I am happy to say that I am looking forward to staying home tomorrow!  While I was waiting for Bill I took a couple photos.

Second Street in Fairbanks 3:22 pm Christmas Eve.

A Raven scavenging some Taco Bell

The New Site

The new Husky House is up, and I need to get with the posts.  Unfortunately (for me) all the old posts are gone, due to my failure to back them up before the old site went off line.  Ooops!  It will take me a while to get used to the new site and learn what I can and cannot do, hopefully this will be only temporary and I will acquire the knowledge to work in all areas.  There are still some kinks to be worked out.

All the photo galleries are still available on my MobileMe Gallery.

It has been cold (20-40 below) the past several weeks, and working up the desire to run has been more of an effort than the run itself, and it is very easy to reward myself with a day off just for running the previous day.  The boys have to run at least every other day, so I am doing at least that, and once I am dressed and out, I enjoy the run.  The hardest part is getting out the door!

Today we gain 21 seconds of daylight!

In the meantime, the huskies, Bill and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

More Solstice Photos

These were taken around sunset today.

Sunset looking down the Tanana River

Sunset along a neighborhood road


It’s winter solstice, my favorite day of the year!  I took this photo of the solstice sunrise at 11:23 am.  Last night I spent time unsuccessfully photographing the lunar eclipse.

Solstice Sunrise

Partial Lunar Eclipse (12/20/2010 10:00pm)

Total Eclipse of the Moon (12/21/2010 12:02 am)

Husky House coming back online

OTC ready to post husky house site

The Husky House website is coming back online shortly with help from OTC . Stay tuned for Alaskan Adventure updates from Susan, Hubby and most importantly the Huskies!

Regards George
Co- founder of OTC
Web design company in Girdwood, Alaska