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Backpacker Magazine – June 2004

Guide's Choice: Hiking, Biking, Paddling, and Sledding Adventures

From paddling Lake Superior to glacier-hopping in Alaska: 6 hair-raising, lung-busting adventures from America's top outfitters

by: The Backpacker Editors

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Alaskan Glacier Hopping

Sink your pick into something a little steeper.

Trail-less and ice-carved, the Hanagita Peak region of the Chugach Mountains is wild country, even by Alaskan standards. Without a guide, you'd be toast. With the mountain-savvy folks from St. Elias Alpine Guides, you'll blitz the wilderness in 5 adrenaline-packed days. Start with a 40-minute bush-plane flight to an old mine site, climb an alpine pass between the Chitna and Bremner Rivers, and then descend a roped route along a steep glacier, with awesome views of 16,390-foot Mt. Blackburn. Once down, you'll explore the valleys around Hanagita Peak, then head for the Klu River and your bush plane out.

Contact: St. Elias Alpine Guides, (888) 933-5427; www.steliasguides.com

Minnesota Icecapades

Dogsled into the heart of a Northern winter.

Ten below zero, stars as sharp as sparks, sled dogs howling back to the wolves-just another soul-stirring moment among many on an 8-day, 75-mile dogsled traverse of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Ontario's Quetico Wilderness Park with Arctic explorer Paul Schurke. You couldn't do this trip alone, so harness up the dogs at French Lake and let Schurke teach you how to mush. You'll cross a series of iced-over lakes, pass frozen waterfalls and ancient pictographs, and camp in heated tents on quiet bays. Need a break from the dogs? The skiing and snowshoeing potential is endless.

Contact: Wintergreen Dogsledding, (218) 365-6022; www.dogsledding.com

Escalante Exploration

Play Lewis and Clark in a sea of stone and light.

Anonymity adds to the adventure on this outfitter's creative treks. The routes vary according to your interests, but many climb one nameless ridge after another, reminding you just how little traffic Utah's 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument sees. One sweet 5-day outing begins with a difficult 6-mile scramble and 1,200-foot drop into your basecamp along the Wingate section of the Escalante River. From there, you can explore trail-less canyons, hike to Anasazi sites, and search for mountain lion tracks.

Contact: Escalante Canyon Outfitters, (888) 326-4453; www.ecohike.com


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