Packrafting Clearwater Creek

6 07 2011

Sunset Denali Highway.

The 50% chance of rain forecasted turned into 100% before we crawled out of the truck to start our 4th of July packraft trip. We started our trip with sights on packrafting the East Fork Susitna in the Clearwater Mountains off the Denali Highway. After a few hours of hiking in the driving rain, soaked to the bone, we set up the megamid at Grogg Lake, warmed up with hot tea, and changed our 25 mile hike, 36 mile packraft, 3 day trip heading west to the Susitna, to a 2 day,12 mile +/- hike and 15 mile packraft trip headed east to Clearwater Creek. 

Wildlife was abundant. Within a few miles we had a curious caribou approach us he came within 15 feet. Before we left the ATV trail for the tundra we had already seen 2 caribou and 1 red fox and 1 cross fox. Near Grogg Lake we ran into a decent size herd of caribou dancing across the tundra. Amazing to see, but in a driving rain, so no pics 😦

Will and Katie hiking above Grogg Lake. It seemed as soon as we made our decision to change route and shave a day off our trip the weather improved. Although we got a few moments of sun, it was mostly cloudy and rainy-but just the normal Alaska drizzle, not the driving rain leading up to Grogg Lake. However, over the mountains to the west it looked pretty stormy, making us feel better about our decision.

Dan descending to the Clearwater Creek valley.

Wildflowers were everywhere. We saw dozens and dozens of different varieties.

Dan anxious to get in his packraft. We had to wait for a few more miles before that could happen.

More wildflowers.

High tundra hiking. Dan, Katie, and Will headed towards the put in at Clearwater Creek. This trip had almost no bushwhacking! When we descended into the brush there were convienent moose trails leading us right to the creek.

Dan paddling down Clearwater Creek.

The creek itself is Class 1, with a very brief, and very easy Class 2 section. Perfect trip for people new to packrafting like Katie and Will.

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