Exploratory Treks Wrangell - St. Elias National Park
Thompson Ridge and Juniper Island
An exploratory route for 2017; I’ve hiked part of this route a couple of times, but we’re planning on doing the whole section this coming summer. Packrafts in hand, we’ll hike west to east, along the coast of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. We’ll have (weather permitting) great views of the mighty St. Elias Mountain Range nearby, without the task of constantly climbing and descending; on one hand, it’ll be easy, with no elevation loss/gain. On the other, it’s one of the least visited areas of the park, indeed of Alaska, and we’ll have numerous opportunities to explore this little traveled region. Expect this trip to be simply dripping with solitude.
Samovar Hills & the Malaspina Glacier Traverse
Have you ever wanted to hike across the largest piedmont glacier (meaning the glacier’s terminus is on land) in the world? In 2012 we walked from the St. Elias Mountain Range across the Malaspina Glacier to the Alaska coast at Yakutat Bay. The Malaspina Glacier, generally regarded by geologists to be a piedmont glacier, actually reaches the Pacific Ocean. Some friends and I confirmed this on a month long expedition in Nov 2011.
This trip is a real Alaska classic; I hiked portions of the trek this fall, in November, with Erin and Hig as part of their “Life on Ice” journey. What an amazing landscape the Wrangell – St. Elias coastal region is. Thunderous breaking waves, crashing on the shore, towering moss-covered Sitka Spruce trees, miles upon miles of empty beach, bald eagles and trumpeter swans flying overhead, and a very rarely backpacked part of the park. Similar to the Malaspina Glacier Traverse but starting inland.
This is a great area for beginners to intermediate hikers. The broad open expanse of the tundra on Capital Mountain offers big views – huge views, even. The walking here is mostly brush free, easier than much of the steeper mountains to the south, but with views second to none. Capital Mountain lies immediately north of 16 237′ Mt. Sanford.
Wildlife are present, though not usually in great numbers. Moose and bears most likely, and possibly mountain goats as well.
Looking for a simple, easy trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve? The Capital mountain hike could be what you’re looking for. We fly in from Glennallen, which saves the long drive to McCarthy. A short flight drops us on the north side of Capital Mountain. From there we can basecamp and dayhike, or do a traverse around the mountain. This is a good option for a 4 or 5 day easy walk, with plenty of exploratory side hikes along the way. Caribou, moose, bear and wolves live in the area, as do Dall sheep.
Gates of the Arctic National Park
A 2nd trip option we’ll consider at a later date is a return to the Gates themselves, on the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River. The Gates area is a little more accessible, though still a fly-in trip. This a great area for a week long hike in the Brooks Mountains. These 2 trips both fly in from the Dalton Highway at Coldfoot. Either of the trips can be a “point to point” trip, or a loop hike, or a basecamp and day hike trip. Either can be combined with a packraft adventure for the ultimate artic travel.
1 week to 2 weeks is good, and timing is really pretty flexible in Gates of the Arctic, but before the end of August is recommended; old man winter comes early up north!
Denali State Park
A great place for a hike. Kesugi Ridge-Curry Ridge offers a nice trail system, and is a perfect option for someone looking for an easier walk, or a good introductory Alaska backpacking trip. Send us an inquiry if you think you might like to consider this.