Sheep Conditioning 101

The Butte near Palmer is ready for climbing. It is one of the first hills here in the Matanuska Valley that is free of ice and snow early each spring. I just climbed it this morning, along with about 47 other people and dogs enjoying the sun. 50+ degrees feels great in April.

Climbing Buddies

It’s already April, so only four short months before hunting in Alaska is in full swing, and Sheep Hunting in Alaska starts. And often, June and July are so busy with other summer activities, conditioning takes a back seat. So I rely heavily on April and May for the bulk of my conditioning exercise. Then I often coast through to August, with only scattered conditioning jaunts to put the finishing touches on “sheep shape” for me. And, getting into great shape by the end of May helps me enjoy the Alaska outdoors to the fullest, since our fishing, camping, and hiking often demand more than couch potatoes can handle. See you on the hills.;


Three Months ’til Opening Day

Resting at Twin Peaks' First Bench

May is a great month to work on conditioning for a sheep hunt, or any mountain hunt. Here is Alaska, the warmer weather (60 degrees yesterday) has us all thinking of summer activities like fishing, rafting, hiking and camping. But it’s still too early for most of those serious Alaska Outdoor Adventures. So, it’s an ideal time to work on conditioning, before the busy months of June and July preempt us from regular workouts.

My partner and I again climbed the Twin Peaks Trail in the Matanuska Valley yesterday. The 1000-ft. climb with no stops was not very difficult with a 60-lb. pack, although we could have pushed faster to make it as difficult as we wanted. For the first time this summer with that much weight, it was a good installment into our conditioning for an August sheep hunt. And neither of us were sore the next day, so that speaks volumes about how we are approaching ‘sheep shape.’ And May days are often wonderfully clear, coll days – ideal conditions for climbing and dreaming of sheep hunting in Alaska.

Conditioning for the Alaska Outdoors

The Matanuska Valley has several picturesque trails I use for conditioning. The Matanuska Lakes Trail system connects to the Crevasse Moraine Trail System. Together they contain over twenty miles of trails with dozens of ups and downs over the moraines left by the last retreating glaciers in the Valley. Friday I took my two dogs for a two-hour run/walk. It is a wonderful place for everyday dog owners and those interested in raising housedogs that stay healthy and happy. They had a great time and I took one more step toward getting into sheep shape.

Taiga located four male spruce grouse with their mating colors – mostly consiting of a large crimson patch over their eyes. He treed them, then left on command to find another. After a long winter of few bird hunting trips, he was thrilled to go ‘hunting’ again. We are both looking forward to upland hunting in Alaska this fall.

These trails are some of the first to open in the Valley and are used regularly by locals looking for early spring exercise. With the constant up/down/up pattern on these trails, it is a great workout for those looking to get in shape for the summer. However, there are also a few relatively flat areas on spurs that connect to University of Alaska land along Trunk Road. And the abundant bird life and numerous stocked lakes, there are several attractions of these trails. My wife and I and our two dogs love this area.

Taiga & Loomis Resting Along Matanuska Lakes Trail System