In taking a trip in May, it was always an issue whether enough snow would melt to take this particular hike. Just one week earlier, I was looking at other options. But a park ranger said the ridge looked mostly melted so I went for it. But clearly there was still a fair amount of snow and on the first day and the start of the second, I thought I might end up turning around and heading down if the top of the ridge was too snowy. As it turned out, it was mostly melted, but there were some deep sections where I postholed to mid-thigh depth, making the going slow and exhausting at times.

On this first morning camping out, the sun was strong and it was very warm for Alaska. When I left camp at 8am, I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and not chilled at all.

This was the start of the route the second day. Stay at the left edge of the canyon (of Little Coal Creek) at first, then angle left up the knoll in the upper left part of the picture. The trail was easy to follow but occasionally muddle and snowy.

Here was the key section an hour up. Head to the left, just below the middle, turn the ravine just above it, then traverse uphill to the right, staying above the ravine, to a pass.

There was a fair amount of snow, but by being there at 9am, it hadn't melted yet, so generally held my weight. After another hour, I had passed this section and reached the pass at 3500 feet.

The next section looked not too bad. But as it turned out the snow was softer here and I sunk in very deep at times

The trail with a rock cairn next to it

A ptarmigan, still wearing its winter white

With the tiring conditions, I decided to stop after 6 hours or going when I found this great tarn at 3300 feet. It was at the top of the ridge, so I could see both directions. There was a much larger lake just below, but it was mostly ice-covered and snowed in. Note the sections of water in the foreground. Alaskan hiking tends to be very soggy. Little polls and soggy tundra are everywhere and a day with dry boots is rare.

Although I saw no large animals on this trip - no bears, wolves, moose, sheep, or caribou, there were many cute small animals. Here is an arctic ground squirrel near camp

Another ptarmigan, this one transitioning to its summer colors

And a marmot

Once again my camp had a great view. The sun didn't go behind the ridge until 10:30-10:45.

Continue to part 3