The Pinnell Trail

June 6th, 2008

Pinnell indeed

Drew hiking the PinnellThe Pinnell Trail is a surprisingly well marked and maintained 27 mile tundra hike off of the Steese Highway. It starts and ends on the road so it can be shuttled easily. There are even two nice cabins on the trail. It’s a bit of an anomaly in the rugged and undeveloped interior of Alaska, not unlike the Tors trail. Drew and I had not planned on hiking it, but we still had some extra days we had originally planned on using in Denali and Luke’s parents were coming in to Fairbanks with perfect timing allowing them to do the car shuttle for us. So we hiked it, staying one night at the first (and nicest, it turned out) Red...?cabin. We had the whole trail to ourselves and it follows a ridge line a long ways from the road for a nice feeling of wilderness solitude. The remarkable features of the hike were the fact that the whole thing is above tree line, the myriad standing stones people had erected (apparently the trail is often foggy) and the fact we had the privilege of hiking it during “Red Flag” operations. The Pinnell trail is under a Military Operations Area (MOA), which is home to two large month-long training exercises where military planes from all over the world come to Alaska (whereMOA fighter jets no one complains about the noise). Some would have found it an annoying detraction from the wilderness experience, but I feel like it added to the unique Alaska experience, and Drew knows all about military aviation so he enjoyed the show as well. All day fighters left high swirling contrails and occasionally bombers would fly low over us. All in the never ending daylight of the northern Alaskan summer.

Dinner time!Me by the cabinSweet beetle

View from the cabinRocky ridge on the Pinnell


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