Alaska Road Trip – Day 1

Post by blogger | May 15, 2010      

Carbondale, Colorado fades quickly in the rearview. We’re already nearing Nevada — we’ll try to camp high tonight at a mind numbing 7,000 feet so we can stay acclimated. Better take some Diamox for that kind of footage, eh?

Denali backcountry skiing expedition prep.

Home invasion -- Denali backcountry skiing expedition prep.

It is about 4,000 miles to Alaska, by way of the California Sierra. Tomorrow we’ll try to set up for skiing something on the Sierra East Side. If the weather doesn’t cooperate we’ll keep heading north.

Getting out the door back home was one of the tougher get-readys I’ve done (really, it went on for six months). By the time our cargo trailer was packed with 1,500 lbs of food and gear (including road trip stuff), we’d spread ourselves over the place like some kind of tropical insect invasion. Every floor was covered. Every table sagged under a gear cornucopia worthy of a king’s banquet. Even the garage and half the front yard (with tents) we’re maxed. I sprained my foot (minor) hopping over a stuffsack.

The last pair of ski boots were shoved into the cargo box like a college level phone booth stuffing. Meanwhile, Lisa was finishing last minute sewing on a pair of Louie’s pants. Of course I was under the pickup bed with air tools, doing a last second swap of a set of Rancho RS 9000 adjustable stiff shocks. Ski boots are not the only thing that can use some beef. Dial up those 9,000’s to max, and you are not going to tail sway. It’s like having iron bars for shocks, yeah baby.

 Out of Africa, er, I mean Out of Carbondale

The boys Out of Africa, er, I mean Out of Carbondale. Jordan (left) Caleb, Louie, yours truly.

Our 2500 Silverado is a rolling electronics studio. Luckily I put in a half dozen more 12 volt outlets over past months — we’re using every one of them. Caleb and Jordan are in the back seat with two computers plugged in. I’ve got another ‘puter humming in shotgun position. Cell phones are charging, sat radio is blasting outlaw country. We’ve even got a Garmin GPS trying to give us directions (we set it to “fuel saving mode,” ha, fat chance, we realized after it sent us on some weird frontage road and wasted a gallon of kerosene.)

We’re hauling a 2,000 pound camper and 2,000 pound cargo trailer, getting around 15 mpg burning diesel. Key is keeping the engine just under “power mode” by modulating our speed. We watch the fuel use in real time, and can tell where the sweet spot is. Even so, round trip 8,000 miles, shew, glad we have 4 guys to share the cost. We did do an accurate MPG calc and got 12.2 MPG during one leg that included a couple of summits. I was figuring worst case scenario of 10 MPG, so that was nice.

If the 4 of us were paying for airline travel, gear shipping, Anchorage food prices and the Anchorage/Talkeetna shuttle, we figure we’d actually spend a bit more than the drive will cost–that’s a plus as well. I didn’t figure the mileage wear/tear on the truck into that, instead, I’m donating the truck miles as a part of WildSnow’s support for the boys.

Denali get ready

After packaging 450 lbs of food, then messing around with gear for days, we'd trashed the place. I wasn't too happy with this parting gift to my lovely wife, who was very forgiving and patient. So we scrawled out an expedition check to pay for a visit from the maid service. After hearing that, Colby and Ty probably wish we'd packed the food at their bachelor pad so they could have gotten a free deep cleaning. Sorry guys, we'll have to try that next time. Besides, if you got the maids over there they might raid the kegerator and never get anything done.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


11 Responses to “Alaska Road Trip – Day 1”

  1. Francisco May 16th, 2010 5:52 am

    I am taking my 9 and 11 year old kids to A-basin today. I’m not sure I packed a lot less than you guys!

    Good luck, how cool.

  2. John R May 16th, 2010 6:35 am

    Lou, how many porters did you hire to move all that food and equipment up the mountain?

  3. Randonnee May 16th, 2010 7:50 am

    Congratulations on the successful launch! Good article.

  4. Lou May 16th, 2010 9:51 am

    John R, the answer is 6.

  5. SB May 16th, 2010 10:23 am


    I’m sure you’ll have no shortage of topics during your trip, but I’ve got a blog request.

    I’d be interested in hearing about your food prep on your climb. I’m no foodie, but prepping meals for 3 weeks on a glacier sounds like a daunting task to me. Even your strategy for the road trip would be interesting.

  6. Lou May 16th, 2010 10:51 am

    SB, thanks for asking, yeah, a lot of expeditions these days pay an expedition outfitter or guide service for their food planning. Credt to the boys for not even thinking that way, but rather being self reliant and tackling something they had little to no experience with (I’m fairly good at it myself, but bowed out due to my time commitment for gear acquisition and other WidSnow stuff.

    So, it was Colby and Tyler who headed up the food committee. They polled everyone for likes, dislikes, allergies, etc., got some advice from myself and other expedition planners, then came up with a few dinners and breakfasts that will repeat in 4 itterations or so. Several of the dinners are based on pre-packaged soup mix and stuff like that for seasoning. They’re a bit salty for my taste, but still quite tasty. Breakfast is either oatmeal or cream of wheat, with a good variety of bulk items to dress it out. We’ve got a bunch of meat products, including a huge pile of pre-cooked bacon, lots of tuna and salmon, sausage etc. The boys planned lots of cheese and butter, so I packed plenty of Lactaid and should be good.

    Perhaps Colby and Ty can comment here. I’m planning some food posts so you’ll see that as well.

    Oh, and road trip breakfast this morning was breakfast burritos made with grass fed beef sausage, fresh fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. Orange juice and tea for beverages. We brought our outdoor cooking gear so we could avoid over-using the tiny camper kitchen, but discovered this AM that we’d forgotten the propane hose for the cooktop, so we’ll pick one of those up at first opportunity and meanwhile just use the camper stovetop with care.

  7. Halsted May 16th, 2010 11:14 am

    “Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw a car packed for a ski vacation.”


  8. Derek May 17th, 2010 8:36 am

    LOL maybe you should have planned your trip out a bit ehhh? WOW

  9. Tyler May 17th, 2010 9:16 am

    SB- The food planning and prep was no easy task. For the expedition food we tried to make dinners that would taste good, provide a good number of calories, were quick to make, and were relatively packable. For dinners we came up with six different options that we will alternate through. Many of these meals involved ingredients like rice, pasta, or instant potatoes as a ‘base’. We then added simple seasonings and protein like chicken, salmon, and tuna to finish it off. Lunches we tried to provide some different snack options to eat on the go. Different meats, cheeses, some trail mixes, beef jerky, and clif bars will hopefully keep the group powered during the slog. For breakfasts we have cream of wheat and oatmeal with lots of toppings: sugar, dried fruits, nuts, coconut, butter, bacon, etc. A lot of this is new territory for me. We tried to be as scientific as possible with the rationing, portion size, etc. Once we get back we’ll try to give a full report on the system. Should be quite an experience!

  10. Andrew May 17th, 2010 9:54 pm

    Bon Voyage and best wishes! May the snow gods smile on you.

  11. Mark May 17th, 2010 10:55 pm

    Pre-cooked bacon is amazing stuff. Due to the reality that the product has far less fat than regular bacon, the cost is actually quite good. Have a good trip and enjoy.

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