A Holiday Weekend Up North

This long weekend was filled with reasons to celebrate:  Saturday was my husband’s birthday, Sunday was Christmas Eve, and Monday was Christmas.  And the best way to celebrate in Alaska is to head outdoors!  For my husband’s birthday, we decided to rent a public use cabin for the night up at Nancy Lake and invited a few friends to join us.  This is one of my favorite things to do in the winter when I want to head out for a quick adventure in the snow.



On the drive up to Nancy Lake, we noticed that Denali was out.  It’s hidden in clouds about 60% of the time, so whenever it’s out we usually take notice and try to find a way to see it better.  Nancy Lake doesn’t really have any great views of Denali, but the town of Talkeetna does, which is an hour north of the cabin where we were staying.  We decided to be spontaneous and turned our drive into a road trip up to Talkeetna to see the mountain at sunset!


We arrived in Talkeetna at around 3:00 pm just in time to catch the sunset.  We forgot that the sun sets even earlier up north than it does in Anchorage, but it was worth rushing up there to get these views!


Since we’d come all the way there, we decided to walk around town for a bit.  Talkeetna is really tiny but it’s one of my favorite places in Alaska.  We went to The Roadhouse to get one of their insanely delicious cinnamon rolls and learned that they had a display of the entire town of Talkeetna that was made out of gingerbread.  We’ve never been there during the Christmas season but I think we need to make this a yearly tradition.

After grabbing some yummy food, we quickly drove back down to Nancy Lake and got ourselves ready to backpack out to the cabin in the dark.  The trail is only about one mile, so we pulled a sled full of wood to heat the cabin and piled our water on there as well to lighten our load in our backpacks.  Even though it was -1 degrees it only took us about an hour to heat the cabin enough to feel comfortable without a coat, and drinking some hot chocolate helped.


Andrew down on the lake

We stayed up late playing card games and eating candy bars instead of birthday cake.  The next morning when the sun finally rose around 10:00 am we finally got to see the gorgeous wintry woods surrounding the cabin and the frozen lake.  It was zero degrees but we couldn’t resist running outside to play with the dogs in the snow.


Ridley running through the snow!  He loves frozen lakes.

We packed up and hiked out at noon, and then headed back home for a shower and a quick nap before Christmas Eve dinner at our friend’s house.  We finished the night by driving around Anchorage looking at Christmas lights.  Christmas morning was amazing because I got an unexpected surprise:  a new Deuter backpacking pack!  My current pack is great but just too tiny for anything more than an overnight, so now I’m really excited for next summer’s adventures with my new pack!

Right now I’m getting ready to leave for the airport to fly home to Philadelphia to visit my family for a few days.  It has been a great holiday weekend, and I’m excited to check out and relax with my family for a few days.  I hope that all of you had a great holiday weekend, and I’ll catch you all in 2018!

What did you do to celebrate this weekend?  Did you get anything exciting for Christmas?

7 thoughts on “A Holiday Weekend Up North

  1. I love how you and your husband choose to spend birthdays! I spent mine in Theodore Roosevelt National Park this year and it was perfect; definitely going to start spending all my birthdays outside. Do you have a technique for layering clothes for hiking when it gets that cold?

    1. That sounds amazing! For the cold I usually do 2 or 3 layers depending on the weather. The first layer is usually thin wool or fleece. The second layer is thicker fleece. Then I’ll wear a coat or puffy on top of that.

  2. Beautiful photos! We always drive around where we live on Christmas Eve to look at lights. My husband maps out where the best displays are, and it’s become a nice tradition for us.

    1. I love that tradition! When we lived in Philadelphia the light displays were totally crazy and I really miss that!

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