Nice hike on Pinnell Mountail Trail

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We did the Pinnell trail last weekend. This starts on the top of Eagle Summit, just off the Steese Highway around mile 107. Eagle Summit is famous for rough summiting and crossing during the Yukon Quest. The trail goes from there, 27.3 miles south to the 12 mile turnout at mile 94.

We got a later start than expected, due to leaving home late and some construction delays on the Steese (yes, there was active construction for 20 miles, after 9pm on a Friday night!). We hit the trail around 11pm, but of course it was still light out. We hiked just a couple of miles, and camped on a small saddle. By early morning it was quite windy and foggy. Not really fog, though: we were in the clouds.

Saturday was a long hiking day. We spent the first half in the clouds, with rain, high winds, and temperatures in the 50s. This was chilling, but we kept moving and did OK. The trail was entirely in the arctic tundra, so markers were mostly posts and cairns. The trail is very well marked, but there were some uncertain areas, especially around Porcupine and Pinnell mountain peaks where fog was thickest and the trails weren’t very straight. We stopped for some lunch and a hot drink in a trail shelter.

Later that day the clouds burned off, and weather turned very pleasant. We stayed for the night in the second trail shelter, which featured Hoary Marmots. Beware the marmots! They are raccoon-sized, and operate as a clean-up crew for the shelter.

Sunday, we had a pleasant and warm hike back to the 12 mile turnout. We then mounted our bikes, which we left there Friday night, and rode back to the truck at Eagle Summit. This was a 20-mile ride, including around 6 miles of uphill to get to the top of the summit. The road was fine, the bugs were not too bad, and it was good to get to the top. The Pinnell Mountain Trail is recommended! For more information, see the BLM site.

We didn’t bring any dogs on this excursion, but maybe another time. The trail is rough, and there are also some animals: Hoary Marmots and other small mammals, grouse and ptarmigan and other birds, caribou (we saw two!), and rumors of fox and wolf.

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