Saturday, July 19, 2014

Biz Review: Captain Greg's Charters

Fish on, baby!

A few weeks ago our friends set up two groups for halibut charters out of Homer, AK. So, Saturday morning we show up at the harbor (6 AM... yeesh) and meet up with Captain Greg for a day in Kachemak Bay, fishing for Alaskan Halibut.

I've never been on a halibut charter before, or caught a halibut, or even seen one close to alive. So, this was a pretty awesome experience. I love in in Homer and a beautiful day with a new adventure is tops.

6 people, 6 rods, 6 Halibut on!

Without further ado, here's my firs stab at a business review in AK. Happy reading!

The Details: Personable, knowledgable and funny - Captain Greg is pretty great. We lucked out with beautiful weather and calm seas, so fish or not, we would have been happy. But, to make the day even sweeter we stopped at a few different fishing spots and each of the folks on the boat (6 in total) limited out (2 fish, per rules). And lucky us, Captain Greg docked us in Seldovia for a quick break before heading back to Homer.

My Take: Captain Greg really knows his stuff (you would hope, right?). He has a clean boat, good gear and knew all the fishing haunts. He's an active member of the National Association of Charterboat Operators and took time to explain changes in regulations, the effects on sportfishers and charterboats. It gave us some very interesting conversation and I appreciated the education. 

Perks:
- Catching halibut
- Blue skies
- Kachemak Bay
'nuff said

Downside:
- Holding a fishing rod with a halibut on it in your hip flex is a little painful
- Potential for seasickness (it didn't happen, but I was a little queasy in the cabin)
- Kachemak Bay spray in your face as you glide across the water
... yea, rough life, right?

Bottom Line:
If you're looking for a fishing charter out of Homer, AK. Give Captain Greg a call. He knows where the fish are, is a pretty nice guy and the price isn't bad. 

Check out his website:
Give him a call:
907.235.4756
Or email:


I should mention, the friends who set up the halibut charter got married and it was lovely, so true to them and a very happy occasion. Here's to a lifetime of love and adventure!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bib #831, Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon

Eek! Less then two weeks until Mayor's Marathon, Alaska's biggest and my first marathon. 

I am so excited. There's only one goal for my first marathon - finish on my feet. Snacks, fluids and running outfit (I'm serious) have all been settled upon and are ready to go. Adam will be at the finish line with chocolate milk, peanut butter and a banana (oh yea.... I'm salivating just thinking about it). I am as ready as I am going to be.




Special shout outs to my mom Sara, stepmom Liz and Aunt Stephanie for being my biggest cheerleaders from registration through 20 miles to the finish. You are excellent role models and set the bar pretty high for a gal like me to do things like this.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Trip Report: Sable Pass to Sanctuary River Float, Denali NP

If you're coming to Alaska, you have to visit Denali National Park. It's an incredible place - 6 million acres of wilderness with one road cutting through it. If you're physically up for it, get out on a backcountry trip. It's the best experience.

This Memorial Day weekend Adam, Scott and I went to Denali NP to hike Sable Pass to Sanctuary River and float back to the road. It was great.

The Overview:


We left Saturday afternoon from the visitor information center for Sable Pass. I slept on the bus most of the ride out, no clue how long it took. Our route heads southeast off the road. There is a well-established social trail that leads around Cathedral Mountain and eventually drops down to the Teklanika River. It was a gorgeous day and we made good time.

When we got around and down, the winds were blowing on the Mighty Tek'. If I remember correctly, we crossed two braids. The water was very low for us that weekend. We ended up with damp boots and given the soggy tundra ahead of us, it was no big deal. I'm under the impression the Teklanika runs higher, so we lucked out. One brown bear encounter made an otherwise uneventful river walk exciting. We were on our way to Calico Creek!

Looking up the Teklanika Valley

There are a couple routes from Teklanika to the Sanctuary River. Some people opt to walk back to the headwaters of the Teklanika River and cross a pass to the Refuge Valley, then down to the Sanctuary. Others do what we did - walk down river (easterly direction) and turn south into Calico Creek valley/pass. Looking at a map, it appears to be a little shorter. I don't know how the pass crossing compares. We bushwhacked a little to cut into the valley, then dropped back down to Calico Creek and walked the waterway/rocks. Eventually, we went up into the tundra and found a nice bluff to set up camp for night 1. A small creek ran behind us, so we dropped down and cooked dinner, filled water bottles there.

Brag moment - I slept in Sunday. Super late. Like, I slept until noon. How lucky am I? To be such a lazybones in the Denali backcountry... I am so grateful for that experience and extra Zzz's. It was raining and sort-of snowing that morning and the days are long, so we were in no rush. Eventually, we took off and headed toward the pass. To get started, the riverbed was the best - we were able to get pretty far back before snowpack/ice bridges started showing up and it became unwise to stick around. So up on the tundra, over the boulder fields and eventually to the snowy pass we went.

Coming up the ramp in Calico Creek/pass

Adam ahead, breaking trail

The pass was great. Snowpack was in and stable and we caught a window of clear skies. I don't think it took us more than 30 minutes to get to the top of the pass from the final bench. A small snack up top (5,000' roughly) and we skree-skied and glissaded down, down, down to a reasonably mellow descent to the Sanctuary River.

Standing atop the pass

First glissade off the pass

Descending to Sanctuary River

We set up camp and got dinner started right away on the riverbed. I'd say within 90 minutes we were set up, fed and in bed. No BS - we were tired! Adam roused the troops around 6 AM the next day and we packed up our gear, inflated the boats and had breakfast down the riverbed a little ways. At 8:30 AM we were launching our packrafts into the Sanctuary and heading for the road.

Our experience on the Sanctuary was on par with what we read in other reports. The first mile or so was a little "butt bumpy" - low water, dragging over rocks, some portaging. At some point, the water got higher and it was pretty smooth floating to the end. There might have been some class 2 waters, but I think we were primarily on a 1 the whole time. Super mellow! We finished the 18 mile float in 4.5 hours, also on par with other trip reports.



About 45 minutes after getting out, we were in dry clothes and on a bus heading back to the car. Woohoo! Overall, a very straightforward trip. It challenged each of us physically, but was well within our abilities in the backcountry. You just can't beat a weekend in Denali.

Logistics & Other Details:
  • Here's what you need to know when you're getting your bus pass: the hike starts just past Cathedral Mountain, right before the Sable closure. Get with your bus driver when you're boarding, they're pretty savvy about trips and drop offs. We took the Toklat bus, but others might be available.
  • We started hiking around 2/2:30 PM on Saturday and hiked until almost 9 PM. One snack break before heading into Calico Creek (5 minutes). Similar length of hike the following day. Float took 4.5 hours on Monday.
  • I rented my packraft (sprayskirt, paddle and pfd included) from PacRaft Alaska - great service, boats are in good shape and the cost is reasonable

Trip Highlights:
Oh, where do I start? First, it was Denali and I love it there. The weather treated us pretty well. A herd of caribou crossing our path at breakfast was pretty special, a solo caribou running right at us was also amazing. Our bear encounter was exciting, especially since we walked away unscathed. We saw a couple intact caribou racks, a ram horn and moose skull. Awesome!