Alana had some extended time off from work and we decided to take a trip south to the Coal Mine No.5 cabin near the Alaska Range. I was borrowing skis from a friend as I had recently broken my bindings on another trip. Alas, at the trailhead I discovered that their bindings were incompatible with my skis (maybe something to check beforehand) and both of us ended up walking. The trails were in good shape and we were able to walk the 2 miles to the cabin without much issue. Remi and Taiga distracted themselves with the many smells outside the cabin, ultimately finding a frozen shrimp buffet on the ice from some past visitors. This made the dogs very happy, but the owners less so.
This cabin has the unique problem of having too small a woodstove. In most cabins of similar style, one does just about anything to avoid starting a big fire as they can get remarkably hot. However, the stove in this cabin is much smaller and we had it running wide open most of the time to keep it at reasonable temperatures (0 to +15 outside temps). Otherwise, we spent the bulk of our days sledding down the hill to the lake, reading and watching the mountains.
We took a few hours to head further south to see the ice cave at the toe of Castner Glacier. The trail in was harder than anything I’ve seen in the Interior and judging by the number of cars at the trailhead it wasn’t difficult to imagine why. We first intended to go prior to the cabin on a Sunday, but encountered some 25 plus cars at the trailhead. Quite the surprise and enough reason to turn around and try again a day later, where we ended up being 1 of 3 cars.
We were blessed with great views of the mountains and the sound of wolves howling in the middle of the second night. Remi was the hero on the way back, dragging everything back to the trailhead in the sled. Quite the life, right? Oh, the contrary. The energy of a 1-year-old husky knows no limits. We ended up running after him so that we could keep up behind the sled, and of course helping pull the sled on the uphills. All was well though and it was a good test perhaps for further travel styles in winter trips ahead.