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It’s an early morning - Could be Thursday or Friday, but either way, it’s day twenty-six. I’ve been paddling nonstop, head down for two hours already, when something stops me - that nagging feeling I’m missing something. I look up from the compass I’ve been glued to for the past thirty minutes, only to be struck by a amazing sight - The morning fog has burnt off, and with the sun rising, the glassy calm water has become a pool of molten pinks and oranges.
One of the aspects I love most about long distance backpacking is the eating. After a few months on the trail hikers have usually burned away all the extra padding that has fueled the first few hundred or thousand miles, and the body enters a stage I like to call “eat all the things” phase.
Last June, my buddy Greg Balkin and I found ourselves flying to Alaska for an impromptu backpacking trip through Denali National Park. Having fit the trip in between our other commitments and obligations, we had a total of six days–including travel time–to squeeze in as much adventure as we possibly could. Fortunately for us, Denali’s vast, trailless wilderness lends itself perfectly to rambling explorers, so with a very loose itinerary we headed into the hills. Our objective: experience as much as possible in 48 hours or less.