The Mint Hut
June 29, 2019
Our group chose one of the hottest days Alaska has ever experienced to hike 24 miles in the backcountry. I had hiked this trail last year in torrential conditions. In 2018 my friend and I began our trip after several weeks of heavy rain and all but swam our way to the hut. This time, Alaska’s record-setting temperatures contributed to equally memorable and miserable travel. With every step, I felt the weight of my pack become more intense. The midday sun’s heat radiated off of the trails surrounding foliage. Each time the trail cut back towards the river, a cool moment of relief. The relatively flat trail wound it’s way through thick brush, terminating at the end of the valley and base of the surrounding mountains. From there, an uphill scramble. The ascending trail seemed to be in worse shape than the year prior. A few sections required both hands and feet to work in unison to maintain traction. The inability to do so would result in a several hundred-foot fall. Rounding the last corner, the hut. The thought of heat stress and fatigue immediately faded as it came into sight. We set up camp and eventually ventured into the surrounding terrain. As we climbed higher, the temperature began to drop and the green alpine floor gave way to boulders and snow.