Hiking the Resurrection Pass Trail
A very attractive feature of the trail system is the string of rustic cabins built and maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. Renting for $3545 per night, these cozy little abodes offer a welcome respite from inclement weather.
Equipped with wooden bunks, heating stoves, counter space, and not much else, they're an excellent alternative to tent camping especially if you've got wet clothing and wet feet, and if the novelty of eating dinner in the rain has worn a bit thin. And for winter visitors, cabin rental is one of the last great bargains available anywhere.
"Rustic" means you supply nearly everything yourself bedding, cooking utensils, cook stove, and food. There are no lights or running water, and the wood stoves aren't suitable for use as cook stoves. The cabins are furnished with tools for cutting and splitting wood, so you can practice your Paul Bunyan techniques, providing you cut only downed or dead trees.
If you rent a cabin, it's important to abide by some rules of common courtesy: Don't leave food in the cabin; clean the cabin before you leave; and don't occupy a cabin if you don't have a permit you're subject to a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail.
Reserving a Cabin
You can make cabin reservations by phone toll-free (877-444-6777) up to six months in advance of your stay and pay by credit card. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, seven days a week, from January 1 through March 15, and then from 9 a.m. to midnight through mid-October; the office is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. You can also make reservations online at http://maps.ReserveUSA.com/static/ak2.html.
The Web site is clunky and the telephone operators aren't in Alaska nor do they have detailed info on the area or the cabins so it helps to be informed on some basics. The most basic info namely, which of the 185 cabins listed on the Web site are actually on the Resurrection is almost impossible to divine from the listings. Here are the cabin names and their mileage from the northernmost trailhead near the town of Hope:
Caribou Creek, 7.0 miles; Fox Creek, 11.6; East Creek, 14.4; Devil's Pass, 21.4; Swan Lake, 25.6 (not to be confused with the West Swan Lake cabin, reachable only by floatplane, or with the Swan Lake cabin in the Tongass National Forest near Petersburg); Juneau Lake, 29.1; Romig, 29.6; and Trout Lake, 31.8. Total trail length from Hope to Cooper Landing is 38.6, so if you're starting at the southern end, you'll have to do the math yourself. The trail is easy to negotiate and mostly gentle in slope, so you can calculate hiking times according to your regular pace.
Camping along the Resurrection
Tent sites are available along the trail the quality ranging from cleared sites established by the Forest Service down to and including any flat spot where you decide to crash. Tent camping requires no permits, but use common sense and consideration for others and for the environment. If at all possible, don't be a pioneer. It's better to occupy places already cleared than to have every hiker hacking new campsites out of the brush. If you must build a fire, use existing fire rings. No one likes to hike through other peoples' camps, so locate your tent out of sight of the trail when possible.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication