2014 is when the world of peakbagging began for me. I was an Eagle Scout at this point so I was pretty versed with following a trail, camping, boiling mountain house, and repeating it the next day. The level of peakbagging I do now comes with more risks, challenges, and joys and I love the places it has taken me, the friendships it’s deepened, and the process of discovery it demands. Acquiring the skills to safely and confidently overcome backcountry obstacles has been an extremely gradual learning process for me. Looking back on these early trips, I see the wonderful beginings of who I am today and I smile. At the time, I thought these little hikes were so big and I remember coming home from some of them feeling pretty wiped out. And if I make it to age 70 then I might once again believe that these hikes are hard; like I’m 17 again!
April 2014, Bird Ridge Trail
Bird Ridge Trail hike after school with Hunter Stuits, Tanner Stuits, Quinn Borowski, Ryan Senko, and John Perrin. Everyone but Hunter and I made it to the top. Maybe thats because we thought we could bring textbooks along with us, go figure.
April 2014, Rabbit Lake
Backpacking to rabbit lakes with Bryant Klug, Quinn Borowski, Ian Borowski, and Connor Zeitlow. It was a chilly but scenic hike on the way in and out, but at the Rabbit Lake campsite the wind was a toppling 40mph and blowing our tents sideways! Near impossible to light stoves.
May 2014, Flat Top
Hiked flat top with John Perrin and Quinlyn-Skye Wika. Nice warm weather. I swam around in a meltwater pool.
May 2014, Eagle and Symphony Lakes
Backpacking to the beautiful Eagle and Symphony Lakes in the south fork of Eagle River with Troop 26. It was on this trip that John Perrin sprained his ankle at the rock garden 5.5 miles from the car.
May 2014, Swan Lake Canoeing
10 miles of canoeing in the Swan Lake system and camping at Gavia Lake with Troop 26. Edit: This is the first trip I ever took my Sony Nexus 3n camera on.
June 2014, NYLT
Staffing NYLT at the Denali scout base was a blast! Very pretty scenery with some awesome friends. My favorite part was the party in Tate Miles’ tent consisting of balloons and TP streamers… And then we tried to blame it all on Benjamin Vincent and the learners.
June 2014, Homer and Kenai
Trip to Kenai and Homer with John Perrin, Hunter Stuits, Tanner Stuits, Ian Borowski, and Quinn Borowski. Did some tide pooling, go-carting, kayaking, and swimming.
June 2014, Echo Bend
Backpacking to Echo Bend near the Eagle River nature center. Campfire, flowers, and… Lammas (Raul and Cerbeza)!?! Thanks to Bryant for leading the awesome trip!
June 2014, Johnson Pass
Backpacking 24mi Johnson pass this weekend with Alex Kilby, Sam and Michael Connelley, John Perrin, Cole George, Ian Vollstedt, and Jared Vollstedt. It was very hot the first day and super rainy the next, but a backpacking umbrella does well to block both. This trip was a blast and I’m looking forward to spending my next 93 mile backpacking trip with these guys.
June 2014, Kenai
Kayaking at Johnson Lake and a short hike to Russian River Falls
July 2014, Philmont Scoutranch
At Philmont, our crew totaled 113 miles in the end. So, needless to say, it was a long trip, with many pictures. So here is what we did in the North Country of Philmont;
Over 50 miles of sweat, sun, and tuna cans
A midnight operation to sneak up Mt. Baldy by sunrise
Tour inside the Aztec Mine at French Henry Camp
And lastly, the South Country of Philmont was much hotter and more mountainous than the North section. Here are some things we did;
Over 60 miles of sand, blisters, and drug-free Honey Stinger bars featuring Lance Armstrong
Mt. Philips and Comanche Peak
Big Red and Black Mountain
Sweating up Schaefers Pass and Peak
Tooth of Time
30 yat 6’s
More black powder and black smithing
Edit: Philmont was more of a ‘class 2’ fun tbh. Tensions ran high and it was soooo hot. I hate the heat, which was helpful to learn on this trip because it really helped rule out any possibility of me living outside Alaska.
July 2014, Kenai
Dipnetting on the Kenai with Hunter Stuits, Paige Mohl, and Quinn Borowski.
July 2014, Ptarmigan Peak
Photographs from the Ptarmigan Peak hike that I did with John Perrin. It was a very sunny, windy, and beautiful hike. We saw ptarmigan on the hill with clouds dancing below.
Edit: This hike up Ptarmigan Peak would be my first dip into the world of off-trail scrambling and routefinding. I may not have known it at the time, but this was extremely pivitol. I had been in lots of clubs and activities throughout high school (Xc running, Xc skiing, Debate, Track and Field, and JROTC), but I wasn’t especially good at any of them even though I found them all enjoyable -particularly for the social aspect. But with ‘peakbagging’, as I would come to learn is the term for this new sport, I did seem to have a talent and the love for it came easy. It has played a huge role in my life’s trajectory (for the better, I think) and I will be forever thankful to John for introducing me to the sport and for being an insepperable and enjoyable friend throughout lifes continuing adventures.
August 2014, Wolverine Peak
Hiking Wolverine Peak with JP, the Stuits, and better weather than one could ask for. We saw a moose and bear on the other side of a valley and we tasted some amazing little blueberries.
August 2014, Johnson Lake
Hiking 7 miles on route to Johnson Lake while camping at Trail River on the Kenai Peninsula. Many rodents, mushrooms, and views along the way, ending with a spectacular view and heavier rainfall on the way back. Another simple and great hike.
August 2014, Lost Lake
Backpacking 16 miles this weekend with troop 26. Packing 15 pounds of glacial freeze Gatorade to give to the runners of this years Lost Lake Run as they raised money to fight cystic fibrosis. Lost lake was foggy and the hike was great.
September 2014, High Line Lake
Went moose hunting on High Line Lake west of the Susitna with my dad this weekend. We didn’t see any moose from the air, nor signs of them on the ground. The weather and scenery was fantastic, but at the end of the day we were stuck with an empty freezer.
September 2014, Pepper Peak
10 miles of beautiful trees changing color and punching through 4000 ft of fog to reach the top of Pepper Peak near Eklutna Lake. We were going to hike to Salt Peak as well, but due to time and energy we opted to go down to the East Twin Pass instead. With full honesty, this is the best hike I have ever done. This was the perfect way to wrap up the summer hiking season. I can’t put the magnificence of this Sunday into words, but my summer was fulfilled today. Simply a spectacular hike.
Edit: This was the only hike I ever had the pleasure of doing with John’s mom, Gwen Perrin. Impressive that she was just as able to do a 5000’er as we were (5000’ers aren’t a small thing in the world of Alaska). She was such a kind, thoughtful, and caring person. In the summer of 2015 and 2016 when John and I worked landscaping at green connection, we would often go back to his house to look over maps and we’d talk for so long about future schemes that it would be dinner time. Every time I’d be invited to join them for dinner and every time I left I would have a full belly. You couldn’t resist her warm invitation and, with her cooking skills, I never wanted to either! Those who knew Gwen were blessed to have had her in their lives and with her passing the Perrin home has suffered a huge loss. Saying a prayer for them to find new peace, joy, and fullness as they navigate life without her.
September 2014, Mount Alyeska
You know a hike is crazy when it’s more difficult going down then it was going up. Little foggy, lot of fun.
October 2014, Rainbow Peak
The Fall colors may be fading, but yesterday we packed all the colors of the rainbow to the top of Rainbow Peak. Snow at the top, Mountainhouse at an overlook, and a fun crew with loud music along the trail, I can’t think of a better hike to end the year with.
Edit: Enter Ryan Senko. Although I’d known him for years in JROTC it was on this hike that him, John, and I clicked and all three of us could tell that this was the start of something great. And it was indeed. Next summer, the three of us (almost exclusively) climbed and built off-trail confidence together and we almost summited every ‘Chugach front range’ peak. Although Senko now has a different order of priorities where flying his plane and rock climbing have taken the place of peakbagging, I know we’ve still got a significant overlap in outdoor interests and will share in more adventures.
November 2014, Rendevouz and Gordon Lyon
The snow wasn’t coming to us, so we went to the snow. Hiking Rendezvous Peak and Mount Gordon Lyon with these two beastly treckers! (John Perrin and Tanner Stuits)