Bear Doing Things Get Outside

Winner Creek Winter Hike

March 20, 2017

Knowing that I can’t come to Alaska without hiking (it runs in the blood up here), and wanting to introduce Hunter to the Alaskan Outdoors (aka the reason we fell in love with this state), I ventured South to Girdwood with our friends Betsy and Cody to explore the snowy trails.

We met up with Maeve and her two incredibly cute pups at Girdwood Picnic Club for lunch. This was a perfect place to fuel up, with incredibly delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, reuban quesadillas, and gyros. The restaurant had the best vibe with oversized dark leather booths, log shaped pillows, and a bright and eclectic interior. It kind of reminded me of my dream living room.

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Once we were fueled up, we headed over to Alyeska to park and hit the trail. Betsy & Cody recommended we do the Winner Creek Trail, due to it’s gentler slopes and insulation from the wind due to tree cover. Matt and I had done this hike a long, long time ago – back in 2013 when we moved up to Anchorage – but had never attempted it in the winter. It wasn’t until I was walking in the woods that I realized I had been there before.

The weather was perfect: sunny, clear, and chilly. The trail was relatively isolated, with us only seeing a handful of people and pups, giving us the chance to go at our own pace and enjoy the amazing views.

The three best parts of this trail:

  1. It’s part of the original Iditarod trail. You’ll find marker’s signifying it on the hike.
  2. There’s a handtram! In the summer, you can take the handtram across the river to continue hiking farther into the Chugach Mountains. During the winter, the handtram is closed and end of the line for the hike. The handtram is 3 miles from the trail head.
  3. The river is gorge-ous. and beautiful. There’s a spot about 2.8 miles in where you can stand on a wooden bridge and look down into a magnificant gorge. I don’t remember it being anything special in the summer (which is to say, it’s amazing but on par with the rest of Alaska’s beauty), but covered in ice and snow, it’s downright magical.

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Prepping for this hike with Little Bear was tough at first, so I want to share how we bundled and kept warm. The temps were in the high teens, and I wanted to make sure first and foremost that he was safe for the hike. After scouring the internet, I wasn’t finding any good advice for hiking in cold weather with a baby except to put 12 layers on them and not go out when it’s below 30*F. Which is crap, because if that were the case, babies would have to stay inside in Alaska for almost half the year. No.

I reached out to the Hike It Baby Anchorage chapter for some advice and recommendations, and was reassured and sent in the right direction. The biggest thing was to keep Little Bear warm, without overheating him. We went with a cotton base layer footed jammie and a fleece bunting suit. We added mittens and felt booties with a fleece cap for additional warmth on fingers and toes. I wore him on a chest carrier to have him share my body warmth, and borrowed a thick down coat from Cody that I could zip over the both of us. This kept him incredibly warm, with him nestled up against me for the entire 6-mile journey with no issues.

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