I was really nervous for my first Summer Wilderness Classic. The route was long, 180 miles, from Gerstle River Bridge (SE of Delta Junction) to McKinnley Village flanking the north side of the Alaska range below Mts Hess, Hayes, and Debra. Only ~30 miles was raftable, so I expected my feet would be pretty hammered. John Pekar, my Winter Classic partner, couldn’t make it, so I went solo. The terrain was spectacular, but my joints were pretty devastated by the uneven ground; it took a month to recover. I also made some mistakes with food planning, with the outcome that my stomach could only process Mountain House meals. I only had one Mountain House per day, so I ended up losing 6 or 7 lbs in 4 days. Yuck. Despite all that, it was an incredibly rewarding experience and I learned a ton. After leap-frogging with Brad Marden and Eben Sargent the entire distance, I finished 30 minutes behind them. We have since joined forces on some awesome trips (Iliamna, 2010 Winter Classic, 2011 Winter Classic).
Your photographs are amazing! I could look at the first shot for quite awhile. Alaska is…breathtaking. I have seen 25 states in my lifetime, but not Alaska…yet.
– Barry K. Mullen, Vancouver, Canada