Honeymoon Hike & Float

When people asked ‘Are you taking a honeymoon after the wedding?’, my go-to response was ‘Why? When you leave, we’re still in paradise!’.

We do live in a little slice of paradise with unlimited potential for adventure. So in a quiet weekend between vacations and going back to work, Adam and I packed up for a down-and-dirty honeymoon in Southcentral AK. I would describe it in two words: blissful sufferfest.

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We hiked Berry Pass to Rosehip Creek, where we put in packrafts and floated to 20 Mile, and then to the Seward Highway. Because we were in no rush, Saturday we hiked and camped in the pass. Sunday, we hiked and float out. The trail, the scenery, the camp spot, the water and wildlife were wonderful. The nonstop downpour, from treeline to 45 minutes (+/-) from the car, not so much. Oh, and that 20-30 minute bushwhack through Devil’s Club at the very end, that definitely got my hands and neck… Also not great. When I was pushing through, cursing more than I ever have at a bushwhack, I had to think there must be a metaphor for marriage somewhere in this. I’ll let you know when I think of it.

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The Details:

We parked one car at the 20 Mile parking lot, another at Alyeska Resort. Hike started at Winner Creek trail, to Upper Winner Creek trail. The trail goes over quite a few creeks, and had washed out the trail in one section. Be prepared to get your feet wet. On a nice day, it would feel awesome.

The trail is maintained by the US Forest Service and is navigable until the very end. Once in a while we passed through high grass, but footing was always consistent.

We camped on a knob at the pass, finding a good spot to keep our tent bottom dry despite the rain. Various trip reports (and common sense) say there’s plenty of bear activity here, but we didn’t see or come across anything except one pile of scat (old) on the way out. Better safe than sorry, we cooked a little ways over and both of us carried bear spray.

Signage on Winner Creek trail indicate that the hike is ~ 10 miles. This map, from AK Mountain, indicates the float is ~ 12.5 miles. We put in around high tide on Rosehip Creek, and made it to 20 Mile to float with the outgoing tide. The trade-off for lots of rain was no headwind – I’ll take it.

We started hiking at 1:30 PM or so and by 6:35 PM had made it to the pass, set up our tent and had dinner. We were hiking by 8 AM Sunday morning (because when it’s pouring rain, and you have to leave eventually anyway – why drag it out?) and loading up the car by 3:30 PM.

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Gear & Food:

We went light, mostly. One ultralight tent and 30 degree bags. Clothes on our back to hike, Patagonia R1 layers to sleep, hike and paddle out in. His & Her Kokatat dry suits (thanks, Aliza!).

For meals, Adam did a Tasty Bite and instant rice. I went with Heather’s Choice Cherry Chipotle Chili. Breakfast was instant oatmeal and pop tarts (mmm… gourmet). Snacks were easy: sharp cheddar and homemade smoked salmon.

Icing on Top:

Dry clothes and shoes in the car, a surprise La Criox in my bag, and a damn good dinner at the Double Musky in Girdwood after. It was a good honeymoon.

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