On belay!

Guess who’s certified to belay, has two thumbs and no upper body strength?

THIS GIRL

I took a Belay Certification course with the Alaska Rock Gym to get up to speed on climbing basics and become eligible for future climbs at the facility.

We focused on top rope climbing, with one person climbing and the other on belay. Thank goodness for girlfriends – having a friendly face at the end of my rope significantly increased my confidence and the fun factor. Note: it definitely did not increase my skills.

The course covered gear, knots, anchors, falling and safely descending. Now that I’m certified, I can climb freely at ARG as I wish (assuming I have gear, a partner, and am practicing what I learned).

See you on the pitches!

Meet Leo!

I have joined the ranks of crazy dog moms. This week Adam and I adopted a sweet girl, a Pomeranian/Corgi/Husky/Lab mix from a home in Tyonek. She needed a rehome ASAP and a friend knew just the couple… We’re in the early days, but she’s proven herself to be brave, energetic and happy so far. I’m excited for a long future with this little lover!

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Picking up my new baby from Spernack Air at Merrill Air Field in Anchorage
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There’s this rap song, that goes “Face down/Ass up”… NSFW.
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Lucky me – Leo likes to run!

Girdwood Bike Tour

Adam and I have started an annual tradition of forgoing big Christmas gifts for each other, and instead booking a long weekend at The Hotel Alyeska for relaxing staycation. Last year we brought skis (an outing that infamously resulted in this “Do’s and Don’ts for Adventure Couples” post), this year we brought fat bikes for a Girdwood Bike Tour.

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The Watchman, from Advocate Cycles. The bike that launched a thousand rides.

Before checking in, we boomeranged down to Portage Valley to bike the frozen lake. Check it out on my “On the Trails” page for more information and pictures! Once we were in Gird, it was hot tub > sushi > bed, in that order and almost as fast as you read it.

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Rolling into Winner Creek Gorge, in the Chugach National Forest
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“Urban” Riding in Girdwood
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The couple that plays together, stays together!

Girdwood has some seriously fun winter trails for Nordic skiing and fat biking (not to mention an entire downhill mountain). After a slow morning we set off in search of the elusive Chugach Powder Guides‘ trail to the CPG Powder Hut.

Related Reading: The Powder Hut is Sweet, But Don’t Tell Anyone (outside link)

The snow was deep, quick and we didn’t make it more than 30 minutes out on trail one before we dropped and turned back. Instead we off through the Chugach National Forest Winner Creek Trail, back to the Winner Creek Gorge and cat bridge. Bummer for us, the hand tram (see linked info) is closed in the winter – we couldn’t make it a long loop. We did the ~ 3 miles RT in an hour/hour and a half on firm, well-packed trails.

What’s the carrot on a stick after a long day’s riding?

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Beer, obvi! From the delightful Girdwood Brewing Co.

One of the best parts about living in Alaska is that every town is “your town”, and despite the geographic mass – you actually know someone everywhere you go. It’s just luck of the draw, and the draw is stronger when there’s beer involved. We hadn’t been at brewery long when two friends popped in, and then two more, and another two more, and eventually there were 10 familiar, friendly faces gathered up around the fire pit outside. It was a good way to end the day.

The skies were grey when we woke up the next morning and I’m a totally fair-weather skier, so it was day 3 on bikes. Which, in all honesty, was just as much of a struggle as skiing would have been – I was tired! We didn’t feel like doing Winner Creek again or driving further south on the highway, so we biked up Crow Creek Road instead.

Adam and I have biked the Crow Creek Road before (The Best Saturday Ever, back when we were training for our French bike tour) – we only did 3 miles RT (of what could have been closer to 9-10) and it still totally kicked my ass this time.

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Big mountains peeking out on us… Heading up, up, up!
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I make this look good (and slow). Looking toward Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Arm from Crow Creek Road
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From the Crow Pass Trailhead (winter parking lot)
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There he goes! Beginning the descent from Crow Pass Trail (between winter and summer lots)
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That’s my nervous smile. Too bad you can’t hear the sound of cold brakes through a picture! Shred it, I did not.

Post-ride it was off to Chair 5 for a classic Bloody Mary. Do you even come off the trail, if you don’t stop for a Bloody Mary after, man? I was so hungry I successfully devoured 1/2 of a deep dish Chair 5 House pizza, wrapping up a fantastic weekend and kicking off a detox.