Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nancy Lake Snowshoe Run

Monday was a holiday, so I was determined to enjoy the extra day off of work. Brooke and I had tentatively decided to go on a snowshoe run, and I was really looking forward to it. I slept in, til almost 11:00, and then texted Brooke. Brooke had also slept in, and was just waking up. We each grabbed some breakfast and then Brooke showed up at my house, ready to go. We loaded my snowshoes, gators and other winter gear and my puppy, Daisy, into her truck and off we went.

We had talked about going to Red Shirt Lake, which is accessed by a trailhead at the very end of the Nancy Lakes Parkway, and we know that the summer trail to Red Shirt Lake was about 3 miles, so 6 miles round trip. Then Brooke’s boyfriend told us that the Nancy Lakes Parkway is closed in the winter, at least a couple miles before the trailhead, which would have made for a hike of unknown length, but at least 10 miles. With the short daylight this time of year, we decided against Red Shirt Lake.

In an exploratory frame of mind, we headed down the Nancy Lake Parkway, after being assured that there were lots of winter trails we could run on. Sure enough, after a couple miles, we came to where the borough had quit plowing the road, and a sign in the middle of the road saying that from that point, the road was closed to highway vehicles.  Brooke probably could have put her truck in 4 wheel drive and we probably could have kept going, but we didn’t want to get a ticket. So we parked at the winter trailhead parking lot just before the sign, and headed out.

There was probably 6 inches or so of snow, so the snowshoes weren’t absolutely necessary, but they kept us from constantly post holing in snow past our ankles. Snowshoes make any snow more than 3 inches or so easier to run or walk in. Since there were only a few vehicles in the parking lot, once we left the parking lot itself and were on trails, I let Daisy off her leash and let her run the whole time. We ran 4.78 miles:

We made a couple of turns, and wound up on a trail marked as the way to public use cabins #2 and 4. Oddly, we never saw a sign for cabin #3, although the map clearly showed it as being located right where logic said it should be, between 2 and 4. The public use cabins are right on Nancy Lake. When we got out there, we found the lake solidly frozen, and there was 2 or 3 inches of fresh snow on the ice. We saw some snow machine tracks on the snow, so we figured the ice was solid enough to be safe for two girls on foot, so across the lake we went:

We ran across the lake, around an island, and back to the public use cabin. This was only my third time out on foot on a lake like that, but the snow machine tracks were very reassuring, and I wasn’t afraid at all. While we were out on the lake, we were passed by a couple on fat bikes. Daisy loved running around on the lake, and wandered around the shoreline too, checking out peoples’ yards and probably getting into things she shouldn’t. One time I called her because I couldn’t see her anymore, and then I saw just her plume of a tail bouncing down the side of the hill, and once she ran out onto the lake, she lost her footing and slid several feet on her bottom, making us laugh.


The lake was definitely the high point of our run. I loved it. It was absolutely beautiful. The very idea of running around an island just struck us as totally cool. After we rounded the far side of the island and started heading back, we were treated to an amazing view of Denali:

 After we got back to shore and the cabins, we hit the trail again.  We stopped when the sun was setting and did some yoga:

 (Brooke in Dancer pose)

(Warrior 2)

(extended side angle pose)

And some falling, because really, balancing on one foot on snowshoes and uneven terrain is not easy:

 (not quite Eagle)

(the dance is over)

and then we turned around and headed back to the truck. Neither of us brought our headlamps, so we didn’t want to take a chance of being out in the dark. We were both pretty happy to cover almost 5 miles in our snowshoes without being completely exhausted, as it was our first snowshoe trip this winter, and neither of us have done a lot of high mileage runs lately. It was a total blast!

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