Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The studded tires are on my cyclocross bike and snow is imminent. It has been a slow 6 week creep towards these 20 degree mornings: first I needed a skull cap, then a head light, then had to dig out my shoe covers.  (As a side note, you pretty much need gloves most mornings in the summer up here). Now it has come to studs. Bring it on! (and please groom it for XC skiing when it comes).

I seldom have the occasion to play Dungeons and Dragons these days (at least the more RPG centric flavor). It's actually sadly been years since I sat down and played paper and pencil D&D. It's just hard to find the time to do the preparation and time block to get folks together. Plenty of people in my age range do find the time, though I suspect my desire to ride my bike, hit the gym, watch a movie, read a book, etc. all essentially bully D&D out of the temporal room. Warhammer, skirmish games, and general board games fit my lifestyle nicely, particularly in the winter.

However, I do love to read D&D blogs. Just as I occasionally delve into online accounts of trips to the Boundary Waters, I love sparking and revisiting old memories of adventures past. This review of Beyond the Crystal Cave is fairly accurate even though I have an ultimately positive memory of the module. I ran it as a tournament back in 1992 on a random weekday when Brother Rice gave us a day off. I devised a point system that placed much more emphasis on puzzle solving rather than a body count, which fit perfectly with the module. Not everyone was pleased with the outcome, though Geoff was happy as the winner. Perhaps I'll break out my copy of Castle Ravenloft this weekend so Henry and I can envision some crystal cave styled caverns.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Call it a dry run if you will. I've always wanted to hike the length of Crow Pass Trail from Girdwood to Eagle River, but the timing never worked out correctly. You have to wait for June to melt away much of the snow and it is also wise to line up a companion or 2 to head along with you due to the river crossing. I have read that the first 3 miles from Girdwood to the top of the pass are pretty strenuous, so I decided to give that a day trip on Saturday. The termination dust is on the march so it is time to get these hikes in now.

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Yes, the goal of the trail is up there in the snow. I believe the parking lot is at around 1000 feet. Up and up the steep trail for 2 hours will get you to the peak.

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At the top of the pass is a Forest Service cabin available for rent. I gather that it is often reserved, but after determining that it was empty I decided to go inside for my lunch break.

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There is an undeniable charm to this little buttress to the howling winds and I'd like to stay there someday in the future, though hiking up the kerosene/diesel fuel for heat sounds like a pain. I read through the guest book and found a wonderfully charming entry that I will paraphrase from memory:

Your body brought you to this beautiful place! Take care of it and it will take you many more beautiful places!

I smiled at this thought and happily chomped away at the apples I brought along. About a mile across the blowing snow was the height of the pass and the glacier.

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The trail descended steeply from here to the valley that will meander to Eagle River in another 20 miles. I had had enough of climbing steep mountains so decided to turn around and concentrate on cruising downhill. I cannot wait to tackle this entire one way hike next summer! In Alaska, you're never more than a 2 hour hike from winter.