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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sharing a Ride

I have been hauling freight with Adam for a couple of weeks now. I have put over a thousand miles on my snowmachine. I have broken one suspension spring and lost one bogey wheel. (I lost the bogey wheel because I forgot to tighten the bolt after I replaced the suspension spring.)

Today I told Adam to "go on ahead and go home without me, I am going to stop and take pictures and pick up our mail and basically goof around". We had hauled loads of lumber to a cabin on Shell Lake, where a guy is building a new workshop this coming summer. Shell Lake is not accessible in the summer except by airplane. There is no river close enough to get you there and there is no overland trail in summer, so almost everything goes to Shell Lake in the winter time via, snowmachine freight haulers.

Anyhow, I wanted to take my time going home so I could share this ride with you. I am going to start the trip from the Lake coming back toward home.

The lake is nestled in an area called Shell Hills (of all things) and it is near the base of the Tordrillo range of mountains which is a sub range of the Alaskan Mountain Range. The Tordrillo's are toward the southern end of the range. The main mountains in the Tordrillo's (if you want to look them up) are, Mt Gerdine, Mt Torbert, Mt Spur, Mt Talachulitna.

The lower hills covered with trees in the foreground is Shell Hills. Go over those hills for about 8 miles and you come to Shell Lake. I am about 8 miles from those hills now, in the middle of this swamp crossing. I am looking back where I just came from in this picture.

The trail threw this swamp has been groomed by a really big rig because they are bringing up a 60 ton articulating dump truck to a gold mine in the area. That is a whole different story.

All of those Mountains I named are over 11,000 ft. high. (I was not smart enough to take a picture from the lake surface.) The lake is about three forths of a mile wide and a few miles long, situated in a glacial valley from the hills. There are several cabins around the lake and there is Shell Lake Lodge. Shell Lake Lodge is owned by a Lady named Zoe. Zoe has been on the lake (the first full time resident) since 1974 if my math is right. She is now 72 years old and still runs the lodge by herself. Myra will have to tell you the rest of Zoe's story some time.

When I drive away from the lake I am headed up in to the Shell Hills trail which is heading North and up away from the Lake. This trail is very narrow, winding and bumpy. To get over the hills takes approximately 8 miles. There are a few high area swamps that smoothe out for a few hundred yards but mostly twisty turney bumpy riding. The scenery is, hills, willow and alder trees with pine and birch everywhere. When I get down out of the Hills I am in a very large swamp area. It is 16 miles across the swamp the direction I am going and I don't know how far west the swamp goes for sure. I know it is longer to the West than it is to the North. This swamp is not passable in the summer, only when frozen over in the winter. There are several little pine trees when I first enter the swamp but after a mile or so most all tree growth stops. I am sure that is because there is too much water for them to survive.

This video is a full circle of where I decided to stop in the middle of this swamp.

These pictures are from the same place as the video, just easier to make out some details.
It was kind of a Hazey day so it is hard to make out the details but, if you look at the horizon closely you will see mountains. I am 100% surrounded by mountains around this swamp.

In the haze just to the left of this clear mountain you can see the ghostly image of Mt Foraker.

I had just hauled about 1600 pounds of lumber about 100 miles from the landing then was heading back toward home. This is what I got to see from my windsheild for the entire day (more or less).
What a perfect place on earth, at least in My opinion!
Thank You for letting me share.

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