December 28th, 2007 by Carl
Here’s a short trip review of a trip we did this previous summer. Skolai to Wolverine, a favorite route for just about everyone who’s done it. We did this trip in 2007 in late July, early August, and had a blast. Allowing extra days to spend on route gave us the leeway to make some shorter days, with less time carrying heavy packs, and more time eating good food, enjoying the lingering sunsets, and dayhiking and exploring the region. We hiked up to Hole in the Wall on our first afternoon, where we saw and photographed a family of White-tailed ptarmigans, along with some Dall sheep. Hole in the Wall is one of the first places most visitors get to be up close with a glacier, so it’s always a treat. We had a late lunch up in the hanging valley, and moseyed back down to camp in the early evening. The following day we hiked over to Chittistone Pass, where we set up and camp and did a short walk around that area. The following day we dayhiked across to the Russell Glacier, and got great views of Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill, towering 16 000′ and 15 000′ peaks. The University Range is something to behold, for sure, and the southern reaches of Skolai Pass is probably the best place to view it from. We saw caribou and red fox in the area as well.
Our backpacking trip began in earnest the following day as we hiked down the Chittistone Valley and across the Goat Trail. Camping on the west side of the Goat Trail is great, and being up high we had great views of the valley below. Nick had asked me beforehand where might be a good place to propose to April (pictured), and I said I though this was as good as any. I’m pleased to say the proposal went well, and next thing I knew April had this huge rock on her finger! Nick told me later he wanted to propose as early in the trip as possible, so she could carry the ring and get it out of his pack.
It was really cool to share in this experience with these 2 wonderful people, and I couldn’t have appreciated their willingness to share it with me. Thanks so much to both of you, that was definitely a highlight for me.
We hiked up Hassen Creek and April found a place she wanted to camp down by a couple of waterfalls. It looked like a great place to camp to me, and we spent the night there. The following day we had an easy walk up onto a bench near Wolverine Ridge, and we did a short trek over to the north side overlooking a moraine and taking in the HUGE vistas north to the Nizina drainage and the Wrangell mountains.
Over at Wolverine we saw a Dall sheep ewe, and I managed to grab a few decent images. One I really liked. We found a nice site close to the landing strip, hunkered down for the evening and prayed for good weather in the morning, as Wolverine can be quite windy, making a plane landing iffy. The morning broke calm and clear, and before long the sound of Don coming up the valley in the Beaver was in the air. We jumped on in, flew back in time for breakfast in McCarthy, showered, and spent the afternoon wandering around Kennecott and the old mill, even venturing out to the glacier. Next morning we were back in the van on the road for Anchorage, with an engaged couple now riding along.
Congratulations to both of you, and all my best for a wonderful marriage I’m sure you’ll enjoy for years and years to come.