Desert Solitaire


Flashback Friday


    A few years ago W and I went on a long roadtrip. We started in Bozeman and drove all the way down to Las Vegas, with a stop in the desert, in Canyonlands and Island in the sky. We drove through the outskirts of Yellowstone, down through the mighty Tetons and through snow and ice storms. I think our route looked something like this:


Canyonlands, Island in the Sky

    I had never ever been to an environment like that in my whole life so I was pretty excited to go. As always, our travels happen during winter break, but that is usually the best time to go, because no one else goes. This January in 2013 happened to be the coldest January in several years, I feel like this was a common theme for my winter travels from Alaska, I managed to go somewhere else where it was colder than Alaska, every single time. Driving towards Canyonlands was so breathtaking to me, these sandstone creations in the middle of the desert were piling up like large red stone thrones through the seemingly otherwise flat landscape.


Ice cold nights

    We seemed to be the only people camping in Canyonlands, at least based on the zero other cars at our camping spot, and the lack of gear in the few other cars we saw during the day. We arrived at our campsite and decided to have something to eat and watch the sunset. There were a few other people there too, but as soon as the darkness fell over us and these red stone thrones turned into different shades of darkness we were the only people left. Temperatures dropped down towards 10 and 20 below and with it being so dark already we decided to sleep in the car, because it would be warmer we thought. That was one of the coldest nights I have experienced, my guess is that the metal in the car insulated the cold air whole lot more than a tent would have done. 


Murphy Trail

    We went hiking during our time in Canyonlands, we picked out a route that seemed fairly easy, short and interesting. No one else could be seen out there, absolutely empty, just us and the stone thrones. During the day it got warmer, and while we hiked with hats and gloves, jackets were not really needed. 


National Parks are becoming Popular

    In January 2013 when we were camping in Island in the sky (that is a part of Canyonlands), the total number of campers, in a tent, was 90 (in all of Canyonlands). The total number of visitors was only 3617 (only 2700 in Island in the sky). In May 2013 the total visits that year was 75000 (51000 in Island in the sky), so quite a few more during peak season. The last few years the number of people that are visiting national parks in the US has sky rocketed! But the people that are representing that increase in visitors are retired white folks, so not an increase in younger visitors, which I would have thought. Total number of visitors in May 2016 to Canyonlands was at 128000, a lot more than in 2013, and in January this year (2017) they had 7400 visitors, but still only 147 people sleeping in a tent. Can you guess which national park in the US has the most visitors? I can give you one clue, which may or may not help. I have never been to that national park. You can read the answer at the bottom of this page :)


Most visited National Park

    So, what national park receives the most recreational visitors? Well the answer is, Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It received a whopping 11 MILLION visitors in 2016. Yellowstone National Park only received 4 million visitors and Denali? A little over half a million. 

    Are you going to visit any of these national parks this year?


Skiing in Denali


Adventure Tuesday

Spring in Denali?

    A few weekends ago, when we made a short appearance in Alaska again, we took the opportunity to go skiing in Denali. We were so lucky when it comes to the weather. It felt like spring, snowmelt, 45 degrees and sunny, with some blue sky! Denali is tricky, she can create her own weather patterns, that is why so few people actually get to see her. But we did, and we have so many times in the past too, countless times.

    För ett par helger sedan, då vi åkte tillbaka till Alaska igen, så tog vi oss även till Denali National Park. Vi var så himla lyckligt lottade att vi fick ett sådant fint väder, fast å andra sidan så är det nästan alltid soligt och blå himmel i Fairbanks, mer sällan i Denali, men vi hade tur som sagt. Själva berget Denali är så stort att hon oftast skapar sitt eget väder, det är därför som hon så sällan faktiskt syns.


Too warm to ski?

    The only downside to cross country skiing when its above 40 degree is that it is slightly too warm. But, we really really wanted to get out, and hiking was not an option since the snowpack was so deep. We decided to ski up this creek, towards the mountains. Sun was shining and the snowpack was thick, if you were trying to walk on the snow without skis you would sink through, well actually that tend to happen a bit with the skis too. We saw open water at some places but not a single animal, well, we did see some ptarmigan, but that was about it. We packed the snow down at our tunaround point and sat down for some lunch. I told W how lucky we were, lucky to be out here in the middle of Denali National Park. We glanced up the creek towards the mountains, and bot of us were thinking about the same thing. We wished we had a tent, more gear and time to actually get ut there and get somewhere. But we were pleased with the outing still. You take what you can get, right?

    Nu var det enda negativa med denna skidturen att det faktiskt nästan var för varmt. Helt otroligt i sig, men vi sladdade omkring på våra skidor där ändå. Snön var alldeles för djup för att gå omkring på, så det fick helt enkelt bli skidor ändå, och det gjorde ingenting. Vi packade ned snön vid slutpunkten av vår lilla skidresa, och satte ocss ned för att äta lunch. Solen värmde ansikte och vi båda stirrade in i bergen, och tänkte samma sak. Tänk om vi hade haft mer tid, ett tält och mer mat, då hade vi kunnat ta oss in i bergen, och fortsätta vår skidtur. Nu fick det bli en kort dagstur istället. Men vad gör det när du har dessa vyer att beskåda!


    Snow will stay on the ground until late April, early May, sometimes even later in Alaska. In Madison it's completely snow free now, and I walked around in shorts this past weekend. 

    Snön kommer att finnas kvar tills slutet av April, början av Maj, ibland även längre än så i Alaska. I Madison har våren redan stormat fram. Vi gick till och med omkring i shorts hela förra helgen, shorts och T-shirt, så varmt var det.




Flashback Friday  

Is this Landscape for real?  

    Almost a year ago I started packing, packing up my life into little boxes, well bags, to bring down, down from Alaska, and my sweet little cabin, down to Madison, WI. When you move from a state like Alaska, you can't just bring everything you own, it's expensive to ship things from that state, and expensive to rent U-Hauls etc. So, I did what everyone else does, sold most of my belongings and tried to reduced the number of bags to bring on my Journey. It was quite remarkable that I who came to Alaskaland 7 years ago (then) with only two suitcases now had so much stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? Bike, cross-country skis, backcountry skis, climbing gear and the list goes on. You can't just not bring those things, they are expensive, and have a low value second hand, much lower than what they cost when you buy them. I had already been bringing things down from Alaska, during several trips, and I still had this much. Either way, packed the car and drove with W, into the wilderness, into the big land of Canada, into no mans world and the Yukon, following the Alcan. What a trip, what a landscape. Completely breathtaking. 

    För nästan ett år sedan så började jag att packa, packa alla mina ägodelar som jag samlat på mig sedan jag flyttade till USA den där sensommaren 2009. Sex år senare hade jag som sagt bra mycket mer prylar än de två väskorna som jag hade med mig från början. Det blir så. Svårare då man ska flytta sedan, speciellt från ett ställe som Alaska, det ligger så långt ifrån resten av USA. Att hyra en så kallad U-Haul, som folk oftast gör i andra delar av USA då de flyttar är alldeles för dyrt. Mest eftersom man kör så himla långt för att komma ut från Alaska och sedan tillbaka till resten av USA. Det blev så att jag sålde en hel del av de möblerna jag skaffat, men packade hela bilen full med allt annat. Skidor, både längd och utför, klättrings utrustning och liknande, de kan man sälja förstås, men att köpa nytt är bra mycket dyrare och sälja begagnat får man inte så mycket för. Jag hade egentligen redan fått ned en hel del sedan tidigare till Madison, men nu så packades helt enkelt bilen med de resterande bohaget och så begav vi oss. Bort från Fairbanks, och Alaska, in i Kanada och dess djupa skogar. En helt otrolig upplevelse som ni alla bör försöka göra någon gång i ert liv. Vilket landskap.

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley
  with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Then for God's sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.
- Call of the Wild, Robert Service

    Have you ever been to Canada? If not you simply have to go!

    Har du någonsin varit till Kanada? Om inte så måste du verkligen försöka åka dit.


I don't Want to Miss Anything

"Up with the sun at four to watch sunrise and the sight of the awakening land. It seems a shame for eyes to be shut when such things are going on, especially in this big country. I don't want to miss anything" 

Wednesday Thoughts

Alaska on my Mind

    We were staying at a friends dry cabin outside Denali. At this point we had been in Alaska for more than one week and I felt more in love with Alaska than ever. But I have already made a choice, and I am satisfied with it. We all have our heart at various places in the world, that is very common, and I just keep spreading mine across this world too. After dinner I found a book in the book case, "One Mans Wilderness". I started reading it, and the first few lines of the first chapter caught my attention. "Up with the sun at four to watch sunrise and the sight of the awakening land. It seems a shame for eyes to be shut when such things are going on, especially in this big country. I don't want to miss anything" . That is how I feel, that is what I do. I have been spellbound by this big country too, and now there is no turning back. Why can't we live here forever too? Later on, before we flew back, I bought the book, because now, this is how I will remember my love for the wilderness and the open space that Alaska offers. I will dream about it instead of being a part of it, at least for a while.  

    Vi bodde hos en kompis utanför Denali National Park, i en så kallad "dry cabin", du vet utan rinnande vatten, såsom min stuga var då jag bodde i Alaska också. Vi hade varit i Alaska lite mer än en vecka, och spenderade sista helgen i Denali. Jag som saknat Alaska så himla mycket var kanske ännu mera dragen till Alaska nu, än tidigare, de sägs att då Alaska har tagit grepp om ditt hjärta så släpper det aldrig, aldrig någonsin. Efter middagen så hittade jag en bok i bokhyllan, "One Mans Wilderness", alltså en mans vildmark. Jag blev helt fast efter första meningen i kapitel 1. "Uppe med solen vid fyratiden för att kolla på soluppgången och för att se när landskapet vaknar till liv. Det känns som en vanheder att sova när något så storlaget pågår, speciellt i detta landskap. Jag vill inte gå miste om något sådant". Vilken text va? För det är precis så som jag känner då jag har spenderat otaliga timmar på att ta kort, eller bara vara ute i det vilda, inte bara i Alaska utan även på andra ställen. Innan vi sedan flög hem så köpte jag den boken, för att eftersom jag nu inte bor i denna storslagna natur, så får jag liksom alla andra som inte gör det, leva på böcker som denna. 



Sometimes you go to Alaska and adventure in your own little way. Here are a few snapshots from our time here....

This trip did not make me miss Alaska less....

Driving on a Snowmachine trail?


Adventure Tuesday


    We celebrated this past Christmas in Bozeman. It has become our tradition, well maybe my new tradition. I have spent several Christmases in Bozeman and each year we always do something new. This year W's dad had booked a forest service cabin outside Butte, Montana. We went skiing in the morning and later on drove towards the cabin. When we got closer to the cabin the wind had created some pretty hardcore snow drifts at places, to the point where the snow drifts were becoming a hazard if you didn't have a truck, and even then. W's mom and dad were in a truck and W, his brother and I were in a Subi. It quickly became pretty hard to maneuver the car on these snow drifted roads so we decided that maybe it would be best/safest? if we all got in to the truck instead.

    Vi firade jul, som vanligt, i Bozeman, Montana. Det är den platsen jag spenderat mest jular på här i USA. Detta året hade W's pappa bokat en stuga för hela familjen, en som man skulle kunna köra ända fram till dörren. På morgonen började vi köra, mot Butte, en liten stad väster om Bozeman. På vägen dit gjorde vi en avstickare för att åka längdskidor, sedan fortsatte vi lite längre västerut för att åka till stugan. Vägarna som vi åkte på då vi närmade oss platsen där stugan skulle vara, var inte de bästa. Det var mycket snö på vägarna och det var ibland lite svårt att köra, till och med med en pickup.


Snow Adventure

    We all started to unpack the car and moved everything over to the truck. We continued on the road, that now looked very very much snow covered, as in it didn't even really look like a real road anymore. I didn't feel good about this snow covered road but had graciously been given a first row spot for this adventure, the passenger seat. Probably to be sure that I could see the ditches along the side of the road. And, when I say ditches, I mean more of a hill on the side of the road. We got to a point where we decided that we should probably just walk the rest of the way. I had already put the coordinates of the cabin on google maps, but the cabin was not really close to where we were, it seemed to be way off of this road, which was weird because you were suppose to be able to drive right up to the cabin. W's mom and I started walking through the deep snow while the guys were going to turn around the truck, on this narrow road. Something I did not want to watch.

    Vi bestämde oss för att lämna Subarun och fortsätta enbart i W's pappas pickup. Jag fick förstås passagerarsätet med den bästa utsikten för denna turen. Medan vi åkte, eller ja försökte åka framåt så kunde jag se hur vägen smalnade av och att vägen var som på en slags ås, med branta sidor som slutade en bra bit ned. Efter ytterligare en bit så bestämde vi oss för att börja gå istället, eftersom det nu var omöjligt att fortsätta med pickupen. Jag och W's mamma började gå, främst för att jag INTE ville se på när de försökte vända pickupen på den här smala vägen. 


Cabin Hunt

    No sign of a cabin, and at this point I started to get grumpy. W had started walking towards us too now, with a big cooler in tow. But where was the cabin? All of a sudden W starts calling for us and it appears that they found the cabin. Down the hill on the side of the road, was a cabin. We had walked right pass it, that is how far away from the road it was, and this road we were on was most likely a snowmachine trail...whoops. We trekked back to the truck, got all the stuff back into the truck and again I was left with the passenger seat. You could feel the truck slip and slide to the sides, closer to the edge of the road and I was wearing sunglasses, closing my eyes behind them and hoping that we would not fall down the hill with the truck. Luckily W's dad is an excellent driver and finally we got back to the wrong turn. 

    Inte ett spår av denna stugan, som skulle vara i närheten av vägen. Så såg vi W längre tillbaka på vägen, som ropade på oss att de hittat stugan, hade vi gått förbi den? Jo där borta var stugan, en bra bit ned från vägen, även fast man skulle kunna köra ända fram till stugan. Men det var då vi insåg att vi var på helt fel väg, att den vägen vi nu var på faktiskt var en snöskoter väg, och det var därför det var lite krångligt att komma fram. Så, alla in i pickupen igen, jag i passagerarsätet igen, och den här gången blundade jag en stor del av vägen, eftersom bilen började sladda åt bägge sidorna. 


The Arrival

    We took the correct turn and drove a bit further. But this road was also looking sketchy because of all the snow drifts. W's dad and mom took the truck up to the cabin with all the gear and food, while we hiked instead. The road was passable, and when we got closer to the cabin W's dad had already turned around and was going to drive back and forth to the cabin a few times to make sure he made a good imprint in the snow so that we could get out the next day. He picked up W and his brother for some extra weight and I continued on to the cabin. 

    Så tog vi till slut rätt väg och kom fram, trots snön på vägen. W's mamma och pappa körde upp till stugan medan vi andra gick hela vägen. Nästan framme mötte vi W's pappa som ville köra ett par gånger fram och tillbaka på vägen, för att packa ned så mycket snö som möjligt. W's bror och W hoppade in i pickupen för att ge lite mer tyngd och jag fortsatte mot stugan.


Fleecer Cabin

    We had a great afternoon and evening at the cabin. It was nice to finally relax from all that adventuring we had been doing (well to me it was because I was a little frightened by the snow driving). The cabin has all amenities you can think of, a kitchen, bedrooms, a wood stove and even a flushing toilet and shower, cold shower of course. We started a fire in the wood stove as soon as we arrived at the cabin and while the fire started going we got all the gear in. We cooked food, read through the guest log, which is always so much fun, and had a beer or glass of wine while we digested the food in front of the wood stove. Later in the evening we had a bonfire outside before we all went to bed.

    Vi hade en jättefin eftermiddag vid stugan. Så skönt att äntligen vara framme efter vårt lilla äventyr. Vi gjorde upp eld i vedkaminen, packade up och började förbereda middagen. Vi drack lite vin och öl och mös framför vedkaminen, läste böcker och även gästboken som fanns i stugan. Senare på kvällen så gjorde vi även upp en eld utomhus vid vedplatsen. 


Getting Out!   

    The next morning we had planned on going for some hiking/ski adventures. We had breakfast and a pretty slow start to the morning. The wind had picked up during the night and the road was once again snow covered. At this point W's dad got a bit nervous, because we needed to drive quite far on this sketchy road we came in on, that already then was pretty much snow covered. And in a few minutes, we had decided to leave, like immediately. We decided that we were going to pack the truck, and then W's dad drove it out. We skied out, and it was so windy, and cold, but we finally arrived at the car we left the day before and started to drive out. The road was even worse than the day before and we had some sketchy passages but we all got out perfectly fine! The overnight trip had been a success with plenty of adventures, which is what I wanted so I was satisfied.

    Nästa dag så hade vi planerat att kanske åka lite skidor eller vandra runtom i krokarna. Vid hade en långsam start på dagen och åt frukost innan W's pappa kom tillbaka till stugan. Han hade redan ätit frukost och hade planerat att åka skidor lite längre bort. Men nu var han alltså tillbaka eftersom vinden hade ökat under natten och hela vägen var som igenblåst med snö igen. Han tyckte att det var lika bra att vi åkte hemåt redan nu, eftersom vinden bara blev värre och värre, och snön fortsatte att blåsa till vägen. Det var relativt mycket snö på vägen och vi kom tillbaka till stället där vi parkerat Subarun. W's pappa körde framför oss med pickupen för att platta till snön på vägen så vi kunde köra ut. Och det gick galant. Vi fick en jättetrevlig helg med en massa äventyr, även fast sista dagen fick ett abrupt slut.


    Did you guys go on any adventures this Christmas?

    Fick ni några äventyr runt jul?