Up early. Good to shower after 3 days. Weather supposed to be decent next two days but know that could change in a minute. I was heading north now, the opposite way from last few days. I was on my way to Denali NP. It is about 4 hours from Anchorage so I planned on going halfway with a decent hike today.
Hatcher Pass was the destination. There are multiple hikes that lead to this area. I chose the Gold Mint Trail. It is a 16 mile route that is pretty flat for the first 7, following a stream back towards its source, then the last mile is a vertical romp up to the pass.
I found the trailhead about 830. I parked and left envelope with cash for daily use fee. I packed a small pack with binoculars, rain gear, food, water, bear spray and an emergency kit. I passed a group of hunters a couple miles in and took my orange construction vest out of my pack and draped it through the shoulder straps. It was a beautiful morning, hoping it held. I worked my way on a slow hook/draw from right to left to the back of the valley.
Finally came across the river I was to follow the rest of the way, a beautiful shot.
The mile marker signs disappeared at mile 4 and the trail got real tight. I was sloshing through mud and fending off bushes. I thought I lost the trail and ended up on some side game trail
It was one of those hikes where you keep saying, “ I must have gone 8 miles by now. If I don’t get there in the next 30 minutes I will turn back.” I was now 4 hours in. I did not know at this point that the trail actually went up to the pass. I thought maybe it just went to the back of the valley and ended. I knew there was a cabin at the end. I kept turning corners to the left, hoping to see a cabin, but no dice. Eventually I got to the back of the canyon and the trail went straight up the side….dammit!!!
I was nervous about this. I was the only one out here and was about to scale these boulders. One slip and a twisted ankle and then I spend the night. Funny that I was thinking that because half way up I came across this.
I was glad I found a spot to crash in case I could got stuck, and even more glad there was not a dead body inside.
I was actually getting fairly nervous as I did not think I was on the right trail. I kept going because I thought if I could find the cabin then at least I could find the right trail back to my car. I was getting fairly high and there was only one more landing to the top of the range
This cabin had to be around here somewhere. I couldn’t go higher. I was no longer on any path just wandering around. I turned a corner and looked back down the mountain and saw this small red color in middle of below picture
I found it! I was so relieved. Later, when I got back I was told that earlier in the week a couple got lost out here for a few days. I was not really in too much danger cause I always knew where the river was, I just did not want to have to go down the way I came up and try and make it back by dark.
The good news was I found the cabin, the bad news was that I really wasn’t that far off the trail, it really was that steep and not a game trail along the river. The last ¼ mile I had veered to the left. Imagine a clock and I was at the 6. I went up the last part clockwise, where a spine of the mountain ran from 6 straight line through 12. The cabin sat at 2, and that is why I did not see it going up clockwise. It was not until I reached 12 and started getting around the spine that I looked back at saw cabin at 2.
Anyway I moved down as carefully and quickly as I could to make it back in 8 hours
A great hike….now that it is over. I did not feel like camping that night so I found a BW in Wasilla with a nice view
The next day I got a view of Denali
The weather turned ugly and did not let up for the rest of the drive, or day for that matter
Denali NP was kinda closed for the season. Basically there is one entrance with a 60 mile rd that runs into the park. To avoid traffic, they don’t allow private vehicles, rather everyone takes school buses along the road and gets off and hikes back country for a few days. Since season was over they let people drive their car to the end for 4 days if you win a spot in a lottery. After those lottery days you can drive the first 15 miles. It was still a lottery day but I did not enter/win but I could still go to mile 15 and do some hikes.
So I went to place called Savage river and did a 2 mile loop
I did not see much. I did not see much wildlife anywhere! It was ok, people were stopped and looking through binoculars, but a bear encounter through a lens was not enough for me to pull over.
I got back to the campground at the park entrance and crashed for the night.
The next day I was do to hike a 17 mile ridge trail in nearby Denali State Park, but it was pouring and after my 16 mile, I was fried. I drove south and if it cleared I would stop and do a hike along the way into Anchorage.
Of course it did not clear. I spent an extra day in Denali. The next day I did a hike outside of town called twin peaks. It was a five mile straight up with a view of a lake. Enjoyed the view, breeze and leaves rustling in the trees and on the trail
I got back to town and went into an antique shop
I am always on the lookout for interesting things from my trips, but everything here was crazy expensive. They had this cool Ulu knife that eskimos/Native Americans used to cut meat and furs, and I almost got, but then I realized it is the classic Alaskan gift and is every novelty store in town and airport. Cant have that.
I rented a bike and rode the coastal trail. I was going fast. I did 20 miles in an hour on this thing. So sick part of me wanted to make the most of my rental and if it was rent-by-the-hour then I was going to do the ride in an hour. I got back and they said that the ride usually takes people 3 hours. Not me! And I even got a shot of a moose
Why I feel a need I don’t know. The other day I rented a truck from Home Depot and you are charged $15 for every 15 minutes or something. I found myself driving like a maniac, swerving left and right through traffic to get it back as soon as possible. Just stupid.
I took the below shot of a float plane coming in
It is cool, there are constantly these bush planes circling the city and coming in from all directions. I decided to go to the aviation museum figuring it would be all about these bush pilots and their pioneering adventures
It had that but also a big section on Japan attacking Alaska in WW2 and actually taking control of 2 islands. Not many people are aware of this. Alaska was not a state yet, so it was kinda like the attack on Pearl harbor, being a US territory, but I had a brought a book about it and now I did not have to read it.
I did like the sign they had above the urinal
The trip was over. I had terrible weather but some great glimpses when I needed them most. I enjoyed the area and would not mind coming back to go deeper into the bush, but for my money, I would opt for hiking and driving through Banff and Jasper vs trekking all the way up here with high prices and sketchy weather.
Until Next Time,
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