November 1st, 2009 by Carl
Here’s a photo of school teacher Natalie from this past trip. We had a great walk across the Sanford Plateau in July. The weather was awesome, as you can, and we had an absolutely gorgeous evening after dinner up on the Plateau; the sun going down to the north lit up the entire region just beautifully. Natalie wanted some photos of her reading a book that she could show to her school students when she returned to teaching after the summer. I took a couple of her in front of Mt. Drum, and a few with the awesome west flank of Mt. Sanford as a backdrop. You can also see some of the glacial moraine in the valley below, a remnant of the receding Sanford Glacier. We hiked across the lower portion of the moraine, and then climbed up on to the plateau the following morning. It’s a steep climb, but as is the case so often with climbs like this, so well worth the effort. Once upon the plateau, the walking is easy, and the vast open range of tundra really a great place to visit.
This trek was a first for Natalie, she’d never taken on quite a trip like a backpacking trip in Alaska before, and I admired her willingness to jump right on in with a fly-in trip like the Sanford Plateau hike. Even when we got a little re-routed by high water in the Dadina River, and had a bit of bushwhacking to do in order to get to our landing strip destination, she handled it with aplomb! Far better than I did on my first ever bushwhack through Alaskan alder. Great job, Natalie.
This trip is really a nice walk, and generally gets far fewer visitors than some of the better know hikes on the south side of the park. We didn’t see another hiker on the entire trip. We saw a grizzly bear, found a huge moose rack, and saw bison (and a grizzly bear den) from the plane on our flight back to Glennallen. Don’t let the lower visitation deter you; the views don’t get any better than from the Sanford Plateau, which offers spectacular vista of Mt. Drum, Mt. Zanetti, Mt. Wrangell and Mt. Sanford, all of which stand over 12 000′ high, Mt. Sanford topping out at over 16 000′ high! Snow-capped peaks like these, bathed in warm summer alpenglow, make for great hiking, camping, backpacking, photography, and even reading.