Posts Tagged ‘Backcountry Skiing’

Sierra waiting patiently...

Sierra waiting patiently…


Black labs are great. Looking back now at my growing up years in Alaska I think about my family dog who has passed on. I’m not sure what my teen and college years would have been like without her. Returning home from school, work or home for the summer I had no answer to those puppy-dog eyes except to oblige and take her out.  Our outings ranged from quick day trips to the nearby Chugach Range to multiple day expeditions. 

One of my favorite local trips was with a friend and his airdale Clem. We went mountain biking and blueberry picking at our secret locale which was loaded with fresh termination dusted sweet berries. Clem had a knack for blueberry grazing as she just munched to her heart’s content. Her airdale goatee was stained purple by the first hour as Sierra watched with head tilted in wonderment. I guess she knew that I would inevitably end up hand feeding her.

Another quick day trip found us on top of a ridge in the Chugach Range. It was August and the fall colors were slowly descending down the steep peaks that surround my hometown. I sat on a rock and watched as Sierra stood then sat staring intently out listening and sniffing the crisp air. After a few minutes, in between the sounds of wind gusts I heard the faint sounds of a wolf howling from the valley floor below. 

On fly fishing trips, my dog would accompany me on many solo and group trips into bear country. She could smell a bruin from a mile away. While on the water, her need to be next to me resulted in a comical display. While deep wading out into the icy Kenai, she would swim out upstream from me then float on by with the current looking perplexed. While float tubing lakes for trout she would dive in and swim circles around me until tiring then head back to shore for a quick breather only to continue the circuit over again.

My favorite times with my dog were in the backcountry during winter and early spring. The above photo is arguably my most favorite. A winter storm had just dropped in over 2 feet of fresh powder the previous week. Perfect skinning 15 degree weather met us on this bluebird day. After a 2 plus hour hike up through the deep snow I snapped this pic. I’d like to think that this was one of her most favorite times but she may have had a few faves attributed to my parents cooking then feeding her a favorite homemade morsel.

Growing up in Alaska without a dog (a lab in particular) is like growing up on the Moon without gravity boots. A loyal lab keeps you grounded, makes you appreciate the panoramic view that life offers up to those willing to see it and helps you refocus on the more important simple things in life.


My brother's new additions.


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Local beach

Winter in Alaska has its moments. Fortunately for many Alaskans like myself winters are a pleasurable time of year aside from a few stormy weeks in December and January. The remaining winter-haters, of which there are many, emulate our fuzzy neighbors and hibernate by spending as much time indoors surrounded by ‘happy lights’ and PFD funded flat screens as possible. Of course there are many Alaskans who pre-thaw and spend a week or two in *warmer climes.

If you are like me and prefer peace and quiet versus loud and obnoxious grab your tele skiis or board and head for the backcountry. On a similar note, if you don’t mind loud and obnoxious between you and the snow, grab a snow machine and head for the backcountry. Alaska takes all kinds and considering our differences we pretty much get along.

J. Foreman

Relax | Photo: J. Foreman

*Lucky winter #1 | Secret beach. Any guesses?

Secret beach

Secret beach #2

Secret beach #2

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