A couple weekends ago, I flew up to Alaska to hike the Crow Pass Trail with my older sister, Malissa, and her fiancé, Jose, for Mandi’s 30th birthday celebration! We were also joined by Jesus (Jose’s brother) and friends, Nico and Justin. This was my first backpacking experience and I couldn’t imagine a better place to do it! I just love Alaska in the summer – it’s so beautiful!
Here is a little bit about the trail: The Crow Pass Trail travels along a small section of the Historic Iditarod Trail. The Historic Iditarod Trail runs from Seward to Nome and was used as a transportation and mail route for early Alaskan settlers. The Crow Pass Trail is about 23 miles (one way) with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet from Crow Creek Trailhead or 3,100 feet from the Eagle River Nature Center. We started at the Eagle River Nature Center.
Warning: Buying camping/backpacking gear is an investment. Since I didn’t have a lot of gear in the first place, I ended up spending hundreds of dollars buying just the essentials! However, I plan to go on more backpacking adventures – so it will be all worth it in the end.
We began our journey at the Eagle River Nature Center and parked our cars overnight for five dollars. It was raining on our first day – yet, I didn’t mind. Hiking and carrying a heavy pack was quite the workout. With summer in full swing in Hawaii, I really missed the cold air and rain.
We intended to hike 13 miles on the first day, which was halfway toward the end of the trail (in Girdwood). As first-timers with backpacking and hiking the trail, we didn’t anticipate the many obstacles that were ahead of us – which slowed down our hiking pace. Many portions of the trail were muddy and wet. We hiked through a rock scree, rocky paths covered in tree roots (which required careful footing), a small creek, eroded slopes, and technical sections using ropes and ladders. We also walked across wet logs and crawled under fallen trees! The trail definitely took a toll on some of us, including myself.
We decided to stop and set up camp 9 miles out from the Eagle River Nature Center. Although time wasn’t on our side and fell short of reaching the Ford Site, it was still a very adventurous experience!
Camping was one of the highlights of the trip. I didn’t expect to love it so much. After hiking with a heavy pack for 9 miles, it was so relaxing to sit by a warm fire and eating surprisingly good camping food. There’s something about the wilderness that makes me feel so alive even with a sore knee, numb feet and being utterly exhausted.
It was a gorgeous morning the next day. The sun was peeking out from the majestic mountains surrounding us. I woke up in a chipper mood, because I was super excited to be waking up in the beautiful outdoors.
I realized that I had overpacked…and wasn’t looking forward to carrying my backpack for another 9 miles. On our way back, we decided to split into two groups to make sure Mandi could make it to her birthday dinner. I stayed back with Malissa who needed to go at a slower pace due to her knee – but I didn’t mind at all.
The hike back was awesome! The sun was out and we made lots of stops to relax and take photos. It was such a perfect day to hike in Alaska and everything was so breathtaking from the wildflowers to the snow capped mountains. I wish we had planned a longer trip – because I could get use to this…even with a heavy pack.
We saw some wildlife and evidence of wildlife. We had seen a frog, squirrel, mountain goat, a moose with her calf, and a couple beaver dams. There were plenty of animal scat on the trail – including bear poop.
Overall, it was a great backpacking experience. I had fun, but I also learned a lot. I can’t wait for my next backpacking adventure and I hope to to reunite with the crew on another hike…maybe in Kauai? Who knows! Until next time!