Hatcher Pass, Alaska

At the end of August, I spent three days hiking over mountains, across glaciers, and through some of the most beautiful valleys with four of my best friends. Here are just a few photos that I hope will show you at least a fraction of the grandeur and beauty that this adventure contained.

Day one was spent hiking the afternoon away along the river valley that snaked its way down from the glaciers above. We trekked through mud and sopping wet willows until we broke the foliage line and began our climb up the mountain. The climb was steep and the wind began to pick up with the rain pelting us at our backs. But with a view like this it's easy to forget your cold and hungry body and be consumed by warmth from the beauty and majesty that this world possesses. 

As the first day's light began to fade, we scaled over the top of the ridge to find the view of our home for the night just below. We maneuvered our way down the rocky cliffside, the monotony of the rain making us that much more excited to get inside. We made a warm meal and warm drinks, nestled into our sleeping bags, and called it a night.

We rose with the sun on day two, made a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, and headed out. The rain was already falling, the mundane rhythm of the drops on our backs becoming our new normal. We turned to what was left of the trail and headed up the pass, scaling nearly two miles of boulder-scattered cliffs until we reached the top, looked down, and were greeted by a rope that lead us over the other side of the mountain onto the glacier below.

As we grabbed hold of the rope and began to repel down the mountainside, our feet soon found the icy floor below. We made our way across the glacier and into the valley. The rain was now falling harder and we were growing weary. We climbed ridge after ridge only to find out that we had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. We were in a valley miles away from the hut we were to call home that evening. The light was fading, the temperature dropping, and fear of hypothermia was setting in. We made a unanimous decision to pull out our tents and set up camp where we were. We made a hot meal to warm our shivering bodies and nestled in for what was sure to be a very vexatious night's sleep.

The next morning we woke before the sun had risen. The rain receded for a brief moment, so we hurried to put our tents away and head out. It was brisk, the light rain turning into sleet as we began to climb in elevation. Our bodies were hungry for warm, dry clothes and a good night's rest. We conquered boulder field after boulder field, crossed rivers, and traversed around lakes until we found ourselves at the foot of yet another glacier.

We climbed and climbed, sliding our way up the icy floor below. We reached the top around midday. We were home free. Almost. All that stood between us and civilization was a five mile descent down into the valley.

So, there we stood, at what was the end of a beautiful chapter of this story called life. A chapter full of brotherhood. One of adventure and love, where bonds were formed as strong as the mountains we crossed. I am so thankful to have gone through the valleys and scaled the highest peaks with these men, both literally and figuratively. How great a blessing is community.

Brandon EckrothComment