Sunday, May 27, 2007

Camping at Mt Prindle

I decided to try to do a small car-camping trip with all of us (Sonja + me + dogs), Saturday night of memorial day weekend. Since I have never been to Mt Prindle, I thought this might be a good opportunity to check out that area. The area is about 60 miles from Fairbanks on the Steese Highway (which is visible on the lower section of this satellite image on google maps), then one takes a 7 mile road northward along the US Creek to get to Nome Creek, which runs somewhat parallel to the highway. There is a dirt road both east and west along the Nome Creek. The Mt Prindle campground is on the east end of it, another 4 miles along the road.

We did things in Fairbanks in the morning (Lulu's bakery for a late breakfast, Farmer's market where we saw Keith and Susan, and Fred's), then Sonja took a nap at home, and only afterwards did we pack up the car and go.

And even then it was not without stops - first to inflate the rear tire which was again very low, like in the beginning of the week; then at Martin's office to water the seedlings I have in the windowsill there (and run on the grass in front of the institute and smell the flowering trees in the parking lot), and lastly at Fox at the spring to get water into the 5 gallon jug I brought with, since this was going to be car camping.

We then went out of town on Steese, past Chatanika, and everyone was very happy when we stopped about 4 miles in on the dirt road already at an overlook. It was warm though the wind was almost howling. Both Sonja and the dogs loved to stretch their legs there. The dogs almost too much so - they ran off, but did come back after some time.

We continued to Mt Prindle campground, where we took one of the sites in the official campground run by the BLM, for $6. After some dinner of (cold, already-boiled) pasta that I brought along, we went bushwhacking a bit with Sonja in pajamas on my back, and also ended up checking out the extensive overflow in the valley. The campground itself must have also had some serious overflow, because even now some ice reamins in places. Then it was way past Sonja's bedtime and we tried going to bed. That proved to be difficult, perhaps because it was so light. Eventually though, Sonja did fall asleep.

In the morning we changed the tire on the car, which was completely flat by that point, I had some breakfast while Sonja seemed to be on a hunger strike, and then we tried to find the trail to Mt Prindle, which one of our neighbors described as being over there by the parking area. Over there, there was a lot of overflow undercut by a running creek, and I decided to head downvalley instead of trying my luck crossing that overflow (in somewhat slippery running shoes with Sonja in my arms, while attached to two dogs that pullled a lot). That was a lot of fun. Sonja kept trying to decide whether she wanted to touch the overflow ice (or "snow", as she called it), the dogs, by thattime free since we were no longer in the campground, were chasing each other, the sun was shining, the birds were humming... After about an hour we came back to the car, and I was going to drive us to the next trail, to explore it.

At that next trail, a porcupine was crossing the road. Well, there went that idea to go on a walk with the dogs, I really did not want to deal with having to pull out porcupine quills. Instead, I shot a couple pictures. It is pretty difficult to get a head shot of the guy - due to being a porcupine, it turns to face away from you no matter from which angle you approach it.

Overall also, it was the first time I saw a porcupine for more than a couple seconds. It is a rather curious ceature, that half with the quills attaches to a regular furry half in a way that looks rather abnormal.

We drove until I saw the next trail heading up the hill, but when I asked Sonja if she wanted to go on a walk with the dogs, she said no, so we didn't go. Within a couple minutes of that, she was fast asleep. We did stop momentarily at another overlook, but since the dogs seemed to be tired and not wanting to just run around, I looked one last time back at the Mt Prindle massif, admired the wildflowers, and we headed home.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Awesome! What a great day! After an awesome week, the Juneau rain has set in--yesterday one of our weather stations was reporting over an inch of rain before 8am! It is spotty, and we love microclimates. I took the dogs up to the Spalding Meadows and didn't get a single drop of rain, but it was pouring on both the way to the trail and the way home. (I think we took Martin on that trail during one of his visits, but I don't think Dana was along.)