Carlo Creek to the Nenana

7 08 2012

 Eva, Dan, and I met Katie and Will at Carlo Creek to do the Coffee/Pizza packraft. Starting out with coffee at Carlo Creek and ending with pizza and beer at Panoramic Pizza, it’s a perfect way to begin and end a trip. It’s a 15 mile hike in up Carlo Creek, then a 15 mile float out on the Nenana. The Denali area this time of year is gorgeous, wildflowers are abundant, I was stoked to be doing another trip up there. And, this is our last trip with Katie and Will before they move to Wisconsin so Will can finish his PHD.  

Katie, Eva, and Dan on the hike in.

 Alaska cotton.

Katie and Will hiking up the Carlo Creek valley past this turquiose mountain lake. Carlo creek is a crazy, beautiful blue color, like this lake. This part of the hike was really easy, and we found tons of game trails.

Will enjoying the blue skies and sunshine.

No short supply of wildflowers!

Katie crossing Carlo Creek.

Looking back down valley. Once the valley turns to the south, the easy boulders begin. 

My over confidence of how easy the hike was drastically changed when I saw the bouder field we had to climb. After climbing most the way up it, here Katie is crossing a snowfield just short of the pass. And another stunning blue lake, that in late July, the ice was just now breaking up on. This part of the hike would be crazy treacherous if the rocks were wet.  

The view from the pass. Just when we were hoping never to see another boulder-holy boulder field! The fun was obviously just beginning…..

Katie and Will wrapped in a sleeping bag on our dinner break. The winds had really kicked up, and it went from a tank top and shorts kind of day to where the heck is my puffy jacket kind of day rather quickly.

Once we decended to the bench, I ran into a large caribou that mistook my paddles sticking out of my pack for antlers wagging at him. I took my pack off as quick as I could once I realized what was going on and he kicked up some tundra with his back legs staring right at me! Unfortunately, no pic, cause this was one of the rare occurances where my camera was in my pack 😦

We had crazy winds that were constantly changing direction all night. And we woke up to the pass being socked in. Very glad our tents held up to the abuse, and that we made the pass the day before in clear, dry conditions.

The crew on the Nenana. I never imagined I’d do a seal launch in my packraft, but I did on the Nenana. Not seeing a gravel bar or eddie in sight, after careful inspection of the grass for sharp rocks or twigs, I hopped off into the river.

Katie, Eva, and Dan enjoying the splash of sun we got the next day.

The Nenana (for the most part) is a really easy Class I. Right after the river turns north and you cross the Parks highway there is a fun, splashy section of class II.





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.





Colorado Creek Cabin

26 04 2011

Sometimes, even the best planned trips, don’t go as planned. Six of us were set to spend a four day weekend at the Shrode Lake cabin in Prince William Sound for a weekend of skiing, kayaking, hot tubbing in our portable hot tub, and two kegs of Midnight Sun finest. It’s fair to say we weren’t planning on packing light for this trip, to say the least 🙂 But, at the last minute, gale force winds and 10 ft seas kept us out of the Sound, so we checked the weather around the state, quickly repacked our gear (much less of it!) and headed north to Fairbanks where warm, sunny skis greeted us. We spent the night in Fairbanks with Katie and Will, and then the six of us headed north to the White Mountains and the Colorado Creek cabin.

The trail is about 14 miles each way, mostly in and out of a forest of spruce trees-many that had been through a forest fire in recent years. Although, once you rise in elevation,get near the cabin, the views open up to the beautiful white mountains. 

Sabrina, Parker, and Jon headed in through burned spruce trees.

Lots of windswept snow in the pass above the cabin.

Dan (in the sleeping bag), Sabrina, Jon, and Parker suntanning-Alaska style!

Lots of chill-axing went on once we reached the cabin.

Dan reading in the evening light.

The White Mountains.

Dan and Parker skiing off into the sunset.

Sabrina showing off her ninja moves at sunset.

It ended up to be a great last minute xc ski trip-allbeit not the backcountry ski trip we had planned. Next year!








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