The Fun Dome (#58): High Flying Hikes III

I started hiking right after I crawled out of the primordial ooze. Then I walked uphill a few times as I got higher edumacation. We now enter the phase where Uncle Sam sent me around the globe. Let’s call the first part of that extended vacation the Early Single Guy Era.

Humphreys Peak. Flagstaff, Arizona. 1989. Jon Wiesinger was my pilot training roommate and we went north to escape the heat on the high point of Arizona. (Which makes me think…I’ve got the high point in five states: NH, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, and Arizona. Only 45 to go.)

To the head! Like good Planetary Defenders.

To the head! Like good Planetary Defenders.

Camelback Mountain. Phoenix. 1989-91. Climbed this several times during my two-year stay in the Valley of the Sun. Convenient and fun. Tried bouldering on a house-sized rock called Chipmunk Boulder on the north side of the hill. Still have the rock climbing shoes. Not sure why. Hoarding tendencies.

Danger in an urban environment.

Danger in an urban environment.

Four Peaks. East of Phoenix. 1990. Christy Kayser-Cook and Doug Kennedy climb this peak with me while we were in pilot training. I remember the summit being completely covered with a carpet of ladybugs.

Christy and Doug are excited!

Christy and Doug are excited!

Kendrick Peak. Flagstaff, AZ. 1990. Doug Kennedy, Leif Brynn and I climb the mountain to the west of Humphreys. Nice night watching satellites go overhead as we slept in the open. Doug just reminded me that Leif was hurling all night from drinking water from an old (apparently unclean) orange juice bottle. I guess I blocked that from my memory.

Concrete pad west of the fire tower. Looking over the Coconino Plateau.

Concrete pad west of the fire tower. Looking over the Coconino Plateau.

Denali National Park. Near Polychrome rest stop. Spring 1992. Went for an early overnight in May, I think. A lot more snow than I expected. In the brush, without my glasses on, mistook a big porcupine for a bear. Soiled my armor.

Early season hills marbled by snow.

Early season hills marbled by snow.

Granite Tors. Outside Fairbanks, Alaska. Summer 1992. Neat feature of rock spires northeast of town above the Chena River. Went here a couple times since it was close to town.

Easy to get above tree line in the arctic.

Easy to get above tree line in the arctic.

Mine complex above McCarthy, Alaska. Summer 1992. Dieter Bareihs and I climb up above the Kennecott copper mine complex and get a good look over the glacier. Mosquitoes were so bad at dusk I put on my rain gear and gloves. To cross the river to get to this hike, we pulled ourself across the river on a cart/pulley system. I guess there’s a bridge now to the town of McCarthy. Things were tougher back in my day, of course.

Overlooking the Kennicott Glacier.

Overlooking the Kennicott Glacier.

Eagle Summit. Between Fairbanks and the Yukon River. June 1992. I wanted some midnight sun, but didn’t want to drive to the Arctic Circle. So, one hundred miles from Fairbanks, I climbed up to 4000 feet in the mountains and got the midnight sun by cheating. The name of the mountain range? The White Mountains, which is funny to me considering my birthplace in the White Mountains of NH.

Near Eagle Summit catching some midnight tan.

Near Eagle Summit catching some midnight tan.

Emma Dome. Wiseman/Coldfoot, Alaska. August 1992. Dieter Bareihs and I say howdy to a grizzly and decide to skip the summit. And skip camping overnight. More about this trip here.

Emma Dome, Brooks Range, Alaska, August, 1992.

Emma Dome, Brooks Range, Alaska, August, 1992.

Mount Monarch. 100 miles Northeast of Anchorage. Summer 1993. Solo overnight to a peak that looked cool in the guidebook. First trip since the bear encounter. So, naturally I saw a bear print the size of a pie plate about fifty yards after I left the truck. Never saw the summit. In clouds, in a difficult scree field, after 12 hours of walking, getting wet and cold, I decided to retreat. This is supposed to be fun, not dangerous, I thought. Spent all night in the rain wrapped up in a tarp like a burrito. I didn’t own a tent yet. Woke up, looked out of my burrito and there was a herd of caribou right below me. Worth it.

Wet campsite on the side of Mount Monarch.

Wet campsite on the side of Mount Monarch.

Wonder Lake. Denali National Park. Summer 1993. Heard a woman I know just left her long time boyfriend. Invited her to Alaska. By the time she flies to Alaska, she’s already got a new boyfriend.  On this trip, another porcupine impersonates a bear and scares us while we’re looking out of the tent. Frigging porcupines.

Blueberry fields forever. In the shadow of Denali.

Blueberry fields forever. In the shadow of Denali.

Next episode, I’ll be preparing to leave the country for the Far East!

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About Eric Chandler

Husband. Father. Pilot. Cross Country Skier. Writer. Author of Outside Duluth and Down In It.
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