It’s Time to Unplug…
Because family time is fleeting.
Close your lap tops, set down your smart phones and cash in on your vacation time—It’s time to spend some quality one-on-one time with your father or son. You’re not getting any younger and the wilderness is calling you.
Last Frontier Mushing Co-op partner & guide, Matt Hall will come together once again with his father, Wayne Hall of Bush Alaska Expeditions to offer a once-in-a-lifetime mush through the Last Frontier. Matt started guiding for his parents company when he was 16 years old. Now a partner in his own expedition company and a champion of the Yukon Quest—A race his father competed in three times himself—And a top 10 finisher in the Iditarod, Matt wants to get back to his roots and spend time with the one who taught the tricks of the trade, His Dad.
Take the trail less traveled and join this fearless duo to learn bushcraft & survival skills, spark conversation in your relationship & strengthen your father-son bond. Years down the road don’t wonder about what he would have done differently or what in turn, he was pleased he accomplished. Know those details for certain. Head out into the wild and learn what type of person they’ve grown to be. Explore, together. Grow, together.
(Exact dates tbd)
The Father & Son Wilderness Survival (FSWS) expedition begins and ends in Cantwell and traverses the Denali Highway. The highway, though beautiful, tends to have a split personality—95% of the time, beams of sun light hit your face as you witness miles & miles of breathtaking scenery over valleys, summits and tundra; The other 5% of the time, gale force winds can cause whiteout conditions as you struggle to stay on the trail and clench the handle bar of the dog sled, relying on your wits, dog team and expedition crew to make it down the highway; The latter is what brings us closer and forulates epic tales of triumph and adventure. No matter what type of weather we experience, we’re confident you’ll be sent home with a sense of accomplishment & survival. Learn how to set up winter base camps, start fires and cook cowboy dinners. Share stories of grit and determination, while sharing meals with new friends from around the world.
Before we set out on the adventure, we meet at the Mushing Co-op to outfit the crew with extreme cold weather gear. Between our Mushing 101 course and a shakedown mush we get everyone acquainted with the sleds, dogs and equipment for our journey. At the end of the day, we meet at Two Rivers Lodge for a family dinner to learn a little bit about each other before we set out into the wilderness. The following morning the shuttle picks our guests up at the hotel and heads south to Denali. Once we hit the trail head, each guest is assigned their own 5-6 dog team and will have the same group of canine athletes every day to establish a bond between musher & team. No prior mushing experience is necessary, but we do ask that guests are active and relatively fit. Guests should be prepared and able to stand on the runners for 4-5 hours each day with intermittent stops for snacks, lunch and photo op's. The trail is on the Denali Highway, which is unmaintained in the winter and stretches 135 miles through remote wilderness from Cantrell to Paxson. It’s one of our favorite places to visit in the winter.
We provide guests with six nights of lodging: two of which will be in hotels at the beginning and end of the trip; the other four nights will be spent on the trail in either lodges or winter tents. Two of the trail nights will be spent in Wall Tents & Arctic Oven tents--The tents are heated by wood stoves and are exceptionally warm. We provide sub-zero rated sleeping bags & ground pads. The other two nights along the highway are spent at Alpine Creek Lodge, which is a remote quintessential Alaskan lodge with showers, beds & home cooked meals.
Day 1: Pick-up @ 1 pm. Meet ‘n Greet at the Mushing Co-op, Outfitting, Mushing 101 & Shake Down Mush. Family Dinner @ 6 pm.
Day 2: Pick-up @ 8 am. Drive from Fairbanks to Cantwell (~4 hours). Hit the trail for a 25-30 mile day. Lunch on the trail. Mush to base camp location. Set up camp. Wood Gathering & Fire building and Camp Chores & Survival Lessons. Dinner.
Day 3: Dog Care & Food Prep. Breakfast. Break down camp. Mush ~35 miles to Alpine Creek Lodge. Lunch on the trail. Dinner & Poker Night.
Day 4: Day trip from the Lodge and lunch on the trail. Return back for the evening for dinner & adventure sharing. This could also be used as a rest day if anyone wanted a day to relax off the trail with their father or son.
Day 5: Breakfast. Mush ~35 miles and have lunch on the runners. Set up camp. Wood Gathering & Fire building and Camp Chores. Dinner. Survival Workshop.
Day 6: Dog Care & Food Prep. Breakfast. Break down camp. Mush to Cantwell, lunch on the runners & Farewell dinner. Return to Fairbanks late in the evening.
Team Building & Survival Skills Workshops
Fire Building | Winter Fires & Woodstoves
Tracking and Wildlife Identification | Wildlife Encounters by Dog Team
Knot Tying | If You Can’t Tie a Knot, Tie a Bowline
Reading the Land | When & Where to Set Up Camp
Adventure Sharing | Tales from the Trail & Life in the Bush
Ice & Open Water Classification | Mushing Through Jumbled Ice, Open Leads & Overflow
Leadership Skills | What it Takes to be a Gee-Haw Leader
Extreme Cold Weather Survival Skills | Proper Gear & Layering
Meals will be cooked on the wood stove or on a bushcountry tripod grill over an open fire pit. Satiate your outdoorsman appetite with our backcountry menu made up of local fish & meat.
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Airport: Fairbanks International Airport
Lodging: Night 1 & 6 @ a Fairbanks hotel (Included)
Transportation: A complimentary hotel shuttle is provided from the airport to the hotel. Transportation is provided to-and-from the Mushing Co-op & to-and-from the Denali Highway.
Food & Beverage: We cover the expenses for the Meet ‘n Greet & Farewell dinners (meal + 1 drink). We provide all the meals & beverages while on the trail.
The Denali Highway is not only a great location to learn how to mush but also has spectacular views of the Alaskan range and a plethora of wildlife viewing possibilities--Caribou, moose, ptarmigan, wolves, wolverines, lynx and fox! Don’t forget about the Northern Lights!
All-Inclusive FSWS Expedition
We'll provide you with everything you need to ‘rough it’ in the Alaskan wilderness--Round-trip transportation from Fairbanks to Cantwell, gear, meals & lodging over the duration of the expedition!
- - -
Only 6 spots available. This trip is about quality. We want your time here to reflect just that.
Matt Hall // LFMC Founder
Matt was born and raised in the Bush of Alaska in the small town of Eagle, located along the Yukon River. Raised by his parents, Wayne and Scarlett Hall, he was immersed immediately into a life with sled dogs. He had a very sweet, yet modest upbringing, relying on the family's sled dogs for transportation, income, sport and companionship. Everything at the Hall residence was centered around their substance lifestyle & the beloved Alaskan Huskies.
Matt has been on the back of a sled ever since he was four years old. By the time he was old enough to control his own 8-dog team, Matt worked his own trapline alongside of his father. During this time of year the family would bunker down in a dry cabin located on top of American Summit. The trails in this area are some of the most technical trails he would see in Alaska, forcing them to run their dogs in single file in order for them to fit down the extremely narrow, snow swept paths. Not only were the trails difficult, but Mother Nature was a force to be reckoned with in the heart of Yukon Charley in the frozen North. Father & son would experience her test of survival skills on more than one occasion. Many a time, an emergency shelter would be quickly fashioned due to unforeseen weather, forcing Wayne & Matt to bunker down on the trail to wade out the storm. Matt was 12-years old the first time this happened.
Matt grew up living a self-subsistence lifestyle. Once the trapping season was over, they would mush 15 miles back to the town of Eagle with their 40-dogs, then 6-miles over the frozen Yukon River and a mile through the woods to reach home. Here, all of their fruits of labor from the summer and fall months of preparation would be in order. The harvest from the garden would be canned or pickled and set aside in the pantry; the moose and caribou--quartered, hung out and tenderized; the fish that they all worked so hard to harvest out of the Yukon River with their wooden fish wheel would be cut and hung to dry as winter provisions for the dogs.
Matt was about 7-years old when his parents started Bush Alaska Expeditions. When he was 16, he was one of their main tour guides, chauffeuring his passengers through the cold backcountry of Alaska, down jumbled ice trails and overflow of the Yukon River. Scroll through the pictures to the left to see the cabin Matt built in Eagle when he was 16-years old.
2017 marked a childhood dream come true--Matt had won the Championship title in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest. He finished the race on February 14th in 10 days 1 hour and 7 minutes. It was his second attempt going in the Whitehorse - Fairbanks direction. His two lead dogs, Anchor & Keeper were awarded Golden Harnesses and all dogs were given steak and roses at the finish line.
Hall has since completed five Yukon Quest’s, placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th. He has also competed in the Iditarod twice, placing 11th in 2018 and 6th in 2019.
Wayne Hall // Bush Alaska Expeditions
Wayne was born in New Jersey. From the age of 16 to 29 he rode saddle broncs and bulls in the professional rodeo. He learned how to fly to further his rodeo career and get him from one act to another. Wayne then decided to quit the rodeo and focus his attention on flying: he went on to fly float planes in Fiji then on to Texas, learning how to fly crop dusting planes. Wayne moved to South Dakota where he flew, owned and operated a crop dusting business. While in SD he also raised and trained exotic animals for circus acts, which included elephants and chimpanzees, the latter his favorite animal to train. When he moved to Alaska in 1987, his chimp Snooki made the trip with him. Wayne abided his time by Moved to flying commercially on the Bering Sea until 1992. He met his wife, Scarlett, in ‘98 while flying float planes in Juneau. He moved to Eagle in 93 (the three of them) and he ran a trapline for many years learning arctic survival, gaining knowledge of reading ice and putting his training skills towards raising the best trained sled dogs around.
Wayne and Scarlett Hall's interest in sled dogs sparked when a neighbor asked them to look after their dogs while out of town. Scarlett was immediately hooked, ironically it took some time for Wayne himself to jump on the back of the runners. Wayne's fascination with animals soon got the best of him and he hooked up a team for a test drive. From then on out, the Hall's took to the trail via dog power. Wayne eventually ended up getting the racing itch and competed in the Yukon Quest three times. He was the first musher in history to complete the Yukon Quest 1,000 with all 14 dogs. The family has owned and operated their own tour company, Bush Alaska Expeditions, for many years.