Alaska Day 12 - Hiking Granite Tors Trail and amazed by Northern Lights
Granite Tors Trail - Chena River State Recreation Area - AK Travel Blog› entry 719 of 1090 › view all entries
About 100 kilometers (61 miles) north-east of Fairbanks is a place that has been popular for a long time: Chena Hot Springs. This mountain site is one of the many geothermal locations north of the city. A continuously stream of water of 69° C (156 F) is flowing here. In the past it brought the gold panners some warm relief, now it is mainly tourists that go here. Chena Hot Springs has become a resort, complete with its own landing strip! The water is cooled down so people can swim in it.
The idea was to go here and take a healthy bath in the thermal spring waters. But, we found we had to earn that so we planned a short hike in the Chena River State Recreational Area, a state park of 1,028 km² (254,080-acre) mainly focused on hiking, rafting/canoeing, camping, biking, fishing, and winter activities.
On our way to the springs we briefly stopped at a cross point with the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. This 1287-km (800 mile) long mega structure transports crude oil from the Prudhoe Bay in the north of Alaska to the city of Valdez in the south. It takes the oil about 12 days to make the whole pipeline journey. So, oil that was pumped into the pipe at the moment I landed in Alaska still had not made its way into the refinery of Valdez....
In the Recreational Area we chose to do a part of the Granite Tors Trail. This is a 24-km (15-mile) long hike with a 750 meter (2460 ft) height difference on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the Chena River.
We started hiking early in the afternoon. The hike started relaxed in a marshland with boardwalks. Later it started inclining more and more. The higher trees disappeared from the landscape as we ascended further and further.
At about 2.5 hours and 8 km (5 mile) into the hike we came at the point to return. We had not seen a tor and we were still not too happy with the results so far. So, after some calculations, we decided we could proceed and make the whole tour.
The remainder of the tour was pretty heavy. We kept climbing and finally, at the summit, we had to deal with a lot of mud and unstable soil, which significantly slowed us down. The trail kept going up-and-down more than we thought. Quite exhausting! The tors were impressive but given the time we could not hang around too much admiring them. We had a long and strenuous descent ahead of us.
We still went to the Chena Hot Springs Resort for dinner. It had become cold and a good salmon near the fire helped to recover. The bath was skipped for sake of time. We had a quick look at it and inhaled the specific smell of Dihydrogen Sulfide (H2S) coming from the thermal water. And while standing there, another moose walked by, just like she was one of the resort's guests.
We arrived late at Fairbanks. I quickly visited an ATM of my bank, which was nearby the city's entry point. If I had not done that we possibly would have gone straight to the hotel.
It took some time to convince Stephan that we were not looking at something else. We decided, despite the late time, to drive to the Fairbanks University, located at the edge of the city near the dark forest, to improve our view.
More pictures below! Deze fake-tekst heb ik toegevoegd om net iets meer regels te genereren zodat deze rare website toestaat dat de bijgesloten foto ook vertoond wordt.