Bird to Pioneer

I am a huge fan of far-off trips to amazing, new, and exciting places, but man is it great to find amazing, new, and exciting places in the backyard! Thursday evening, a friend on her way home to Girdwood after work dropped John Wros, Jeremy Wood, and me off at the Bird Valley Trailhead for a traverse of the Chugach State Park. Almost all of the terrain we covered was new to me, which was such a treat. Generally speaking, we went: Bird Creek - Bird Pass - Grizzly Bear Lake - Camp Creek - Eagle River - Dishwater Creek - Bombardment Pass - Eklutna Lake - Yudikench - Pioneer. Lots of tundra walking, some river crossing, a bit of thwacking, and a whole bunch of sunshine. Oh! And another friend -- Dave Bass -- joined along the way. Wohoo! 

Heading up toward Bird Pass, with fireweed that was almost taller than me in spots. Photo by K. Strong.

Enjoying the morning sunshine in the Bird Pass area. Photo by K. Strong.

The view up toward Grizzly Bear Lake. Photo by K. Strong.

Somewhere above Grizzly Bear Lake. Photo by K. Strong.

Somewhere above Grizzly Bear Lake. Photo by K. Strong.

Camp Creek Valley. Blueberries were everywhere!!! Photo by K. Strong.

I don't recommend doing this part in a running skirt. Photo by K. Strong.

We waited out a thunderstorm before finding our way up Dishwater Creek to this amazingness. Photo by K. Strong.

And then we found this amazingness.  Photo by K. Strong.

The following morning, we went up Bombardment Pass, where Dave was waiting. Photo by K. Strong.

If it was just a bit wider, I would have strongly considered making a water slide out of this with the weather balloon I found earlier that morning. Photo by K. Strong.

Taking a break before heading up our fourth pass of the day. Photo by K. Strong.

Looking down to Eklutna Lake. Lower in this valley was some of my favorite walking: an idyllic creekbed, fields of wildflowers, and a bivy spot someone has obviously spent loads of time perfecting. Photo by K. Strong.

Contemplating the next river crossing. Photo by K. Strong.

And going for it. Photo by K. Strong.

Our final day, on the way toward Pioneer. Photo by K. Strong.

Heading down yet another ridgeline. Photo by K. Strong.

Looking toward the Knik Glacier, giving my feet one last socks-off break before the final push to the Pioneer Ridge trail and our descent to the car, snacks, and cold beer (!), courtesy of my fabulous housemates. Photo by J. Wros.

It was so beautiful out there, and I'm so psyched to have shared it with three super fun people. Thanks guys for the great trip!

For reference, here are some write-ups and videos from others who have done similar traverses (both slightly different than ours) and that provided much of the inspiration for this one.