Beaver Creek – Summit (no) Trail

19 06 2018

Kasey and I decided to take advantage of an early (hot) June weekend and explore her new stomping grounds in Fairbanks. Beaver Creek is a National Wild & Scenic River just north of Fairbanks in the White Mountains with road access. We slept in and got a little bit of a late start-we put in for the 35 mile float starting at Nome Creek at 1 pm._J6A8588Beaver Creek is a Class 1 river that meanders through low, rolling mountains. It’s beautiful in every direction. _J6A8631_J6A8635Lots of dead wood from previous forest fires. I love the interior weather-we had mostly hot & sunny, with thunderstorms rolling through at jet speed (which was a welcome temperature difference) and rolling out just as fast. We never got more than a couple drops of rain, however, surrounding us it looked like some areas were getting downpours._J6A8660_J6A8674_J6A8679Late evening Alaska sun! We finished the 35 mile float in 8 hours, including stopping to cook dinner on a gravel bar.  We arrived at the Borealis LaFevre cabin well before we expected to. It was a great break from the bugs, which were getting worse & worse. Unfortunately, the area surrounding the cabin was trashed by previous users 😦 The cabin gets heavy use all year long, but we were disappointed that users hadn’t been taking care of it. We found the small window inside the cabin not seated properly, so it allowed mosquitos in….Kasey got the majority of the buzzing & bites, as she slept closest to the window. After a few bites, I burrowed down in my sleeping bag to get some relief. It was still much better to be inside the cabin than out, mosquito-wise!_J6A8712_J6A8749_J6A8757Tussocks! We found the winter trail and started our 20 mile hike through the swamp, tussocks, and burnt forest. After about a mile, we found a channel that we had to unpack our boats, re-inflate them, and paddle the short distance to the other side to continue our journey. IMG_3096IMG_2886Eventually, we found the Summit Trail, which started off nicely-a boardwalk through the tundra! Which quickly turned into bushwhacking on the boardwalk, as the environment has taken over. Not too long after that, the boardwalk disappears, so does the faint trail & it’s climbing over downed trees from a previous fire & bushwhacking through alders at the same time. Occasionally, we would find the trail again for a short time. And follow it until it suddenly stopped. IMG_2895IMG_2903IMG_2910IMG_2918Wildflowers! They were starting to pop up everywhere! It was super hot & there wasn’t much water available (I got a little dehydrated). We eventually found small kettle ponds to purify water from. IMG_2923Eventually, we got to the easy ridge walking! We thought we might camp up high to (hopefully) avoid the majority of the mosquitos, but even on the ridges the mosquitos were bad. It felt like we had our own, personal clouds of them following us.IMG_2928IMG_2932We had originally thought we could do the 20 mile hike in one day (which can be done), but allotted two days. After a late start that morning, and lots of bushwhacking, we found the Summit Shelter unoccupied and in great condition, so we decided to stay there, instead of pressing on to the highway and getting to the truck at 1 AM.  It took us 9.5-10 hours to go 12 miles to the Summit Shelter. I think that’s a new record for slow 🙂IMG_4452_J6A8775The 8 miles from the Summit Shelter to the Elliot Highway are easy, trail is in great shape (it’s well used, crazy difference between that part of the trail and the 12 miles between cabins). We had some post holing through snow, but it was almost a welcome relief from the hot sun 🙂IMG_2943

 

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The Brooks Range Trip: Part 1-Geadake Lake to Arrigetch Creek on the Alatna River

19 08 2011

The only words to describe the Brooks Range and Alatna River are amazing and stunningly beautiful. The Alatna is one of six designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Gates of the Arctic National Park, and for good reason. The Endicott mountains range from rolling hills to sharp, jagged spears and everything in between. Many are reminiscent of the southern Rockies-very unlike any other mountains in Alaska.

Dan, Boone, Kasey and I got dropped off by floatplane in bright, late afternoon sunshine (after flying through rain the whole way) on Geadake Lake, the headwaters of the Alatna, where the Alatna River starts as a trickle flowing from the southern end of the lake.

Immediately, we found a caribou rack & skull-the first of a few we came across!

Fresh snow dusted the peaks 1,000 feet up. Being the second week of August, temperatures ranged from below freezing to upper 50’s or low 60’s, and the weather jetted in and out so quickly it was hard to keep track of. During our 8 day trip we lucked out and only had 2 solid days of rain, one or two days or rain/sun, and the rest was mostly sunny.

From the lake, we hiked through tussocks for 3.5-4 miles before the river was big enough to launch our Alpacka rafts.

Along the way we were treated to caribou dancing across the tundra.

We found snow on the river bank……

Early in the afternoon, on our first river day, my boat started losing air. We found the main valve to be seperating from the raft. We had to stop every 5-10 minutes to re-inflate the boat. We set up camp early that day so we could fix my raft with Aquaseal, before we were to hit the rapids above Ram Creek. Luckily, it held. Also, the river looked like it was at an average flow, and the rapids ended up being an easy Class 2 (not the 2+/3 that the river guide suggests, maybe at a different water level they are.) The rest of the river is Class 1.

Fresh wolf tracks! We found loads and loads of wolf & bear tracks on every sandbar. These tracks are from a wolf that came through our camp overnight.

Boone leading the pack.

Kasey heading down river.

The crew.

Dan.

Rain down river. The weather moved with lightning speed up and down valley.

A short time later, blue skies.

Boone cooking dinner on a backwater channel of the Alatna, near Arrigetch Creek.

This night it dipped below freezing, and we woke up to frosty sleeping bags and some ice on the channel. From here we stashed our boats, and headed into the Arrigetch Peaks for the second part of our trip.

 To be continued………..








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