Choices Choices Choices
Carl Goes Back to ANWR
Coming in 2023, I’m again leading a backpacking trip to the Refuge, Above the Circle. I had so much fun last year I’m gunna do this one again. I truly love the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
3 Spaces left
Dates June 8-17, 2023
Difficulty rating: intermediate level.
Arctic. National. Wildlife. Refuge. Need there be more?
Backpacking over the Continental Divide just “feels” like something special. We start on the southside of the range and make our way through a couple of drainages over a spectacular high pass to the north slope of the refuge, and on to our pickup at the designated landing strip.
In 2022 we saw scads of caribou, making their way northward just like ourselves. We also saw muskox and there were rumors of a passing grizzly bear.
And not a single other person for 10 days. This will be sweet.
Rhane Goes South
Rhane is aiming to guide the Southern Traverse, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. “Man, I this place!”
Bremner Mines to Tebay Lakes. Not for the novice. A burly walk.
I promise you this is my favorite hike in the world. There’s just nothing quite like it.
Dates July 15-27 (3 spaces)
Difficulty Rating: Challenging.
A harder trek than the more commonly hiked Seven Pss Route, which runs from Bremner Mines to Iceberg Lake. This hike is further, harder, gets WAY fewer visitors, and no other commercial operator runs it. Ever. Not for folks who aren’t solid on talus, scree and rock. You don’t need to be an athlete, but you do need to be in really good shape.
Depending on water levels you’ll have a solid river crossing. The main terrain challenge is sidehilling, or sidewinding as my friends in Canada call it. But the rewards? Worth every second.
An Alaskan Classic.
Rachel Goes to Denali
Rachel could end up anywhere. But in 2023 she’ll be backpacking in Denali AGAIN Decadent Denali, our newest Denali National Park trip.
Why this one? Because it’s Denali National Park, that’s why.
Bomber! Rarely visited. Views of the highest Mountain in North America.
Difficulty Rating: Challenging.
You fly from Anchorage to Denali National Park, near the legendary Ruth Glacier. A steep burly clamber up to the tundra on a ridge above the valley, and explore the high country. Steep country.
You’ll backpack along the ridgeline and then drop down and make your way back toward your bushplane’s pickup spot. Requires solid skills for sidehilling, some bushwhacking and a happy countenance. With luck, Rachel can show you some sweet view of Mt. Denali.
How's this work?
We are super stoked about this idea. And we think you will be too.
These select trips are specifically designed around what the guides want to do. We schedule the trip, scout it, map it, plan it, and then invite you to join us to undertake it.
Typically, these trips will be a little more rugged, a little more adventurous. You should be too.
The trip may be an exploratory route we’ve never done before but had our eye on. Sometimes they’ll just be a guide’s favorite trip that he or she decides “I’m going to do this route again next year”. Whatever the nature of the trip, they’ll be a lot of fun.
All of this means the trip will likely require you to be a little more self-sufficient than some of the other options we run. We’ll still look after you, of course.
Initially the trips are by invite over, and a tip of the hat to repeat guests who are looking for another adventure with us.
Why? Because we think you’ll appreciate the invite and you’ll appreciate a trip tailored for folks of a similar mindset.
Schedules: Dates are set and the trip scheduled. If that schedule works for you, we’d love to have you along. If not, we’ll look at another trip for you or maybe next year.
Logistics: We’ll configure the route, the logistics and help you with the gear and whatever else you need. We just want to be clear the purpose of these trips is as much about the guide doing a trip he or she wants to do as it is us taking you out on a route you want to do.
These aren’t for everyone, but they may be perfect for you.
I would like more info on each of the specific trips/routes?
Then you should contact us here. We may end up putting up detailed trip pages for each, that’s not online yet.
What I can tell you for now is that each of these routes is trek for solid hikers, with stunning scenery, few people, and a remote, wild adventure. And if you wanna come, and the dates work for you, drop me a note ASAP.
I'm not ready to book, but want more info.
Then you should contact us here and mention that. We can pencil you in and go from there.
Do we have to provide our own gear?
No. These trips are just like all the other trips, we can outfit it or you do it yourself. We don’t provide backpacks, sleeping bags or sleeping pads. But food, tents, hiking poles, fuel, etc, are options if you need them, as per usual with all our backcountry trips.
Do we have to bring our own food?
No. See above. As usual, it’s either/or. Whichever you’d prefer.
Is it invitation only?
Yes. That doesn’t mean it’s only available for previous clients. You can’t just sign up for one of these trips without an invite, or ask us to schedule it earlier in the summer, etc.
Can I ask to be invited?
Yes. Your space is up to the guide. The guides’ choice.
Have you hiked these routes before?
In some cases, yes, in some cases, no. In some cases we may have hiked part of the route before. They’re simply trips that the guide chose to do, and we’re inviting you to join us.
Can I do more than one?
Sure, if there’s space, the dates allow, and you’re up for it. And if each of guide OK’s it.
Do you have a Gear Check List?
Oh yeah. Right here
Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a detailed Trip Information Packet with more than enough information on gear to keep you busy. Until then the above check list is a good outline of what you need.
How are the difficulty ratings defined?
Well, “defined” probably isn’t the right word. This is Alaska after all. But this an important question to consider.
One boot equals easiest and five boots the most challenging option. Thanks.
As a general rule I’d suggest rating everything here one notchfrom what you might be used to (assuming you haven’t hiked in Alaska before). If you consider yourself up for an intermediate level hike assume that a trip rated intermediate here will probably be a bit tougher than you’re expecting. Not impossible, but harder than you think.
As I mentioned above, terrain is the biggest factor here and it’s extremely subjective as to what is difficult terrain and what is not.
Some people really struggle walking over a boulder field, and others don’t find it difficult at all. Some people find sidehilling more difficult, or bushwhacking, and so on. But the most common element people struggle with is almost always terrain. Your balance is probably a more important consideration than how miles you run on a treadmill each day in the gym.
One of the best ways to lower a rating is simply give yourself an extra day or 2. Make a 5 day hike a 7 day hike and it’ll much more manageable. Conversely, if you want a challenge give yourself a little less time and you’ll find just about any trip here as challenging as you could want it to be.
Again: please carefully. It’s the boot icon in the sidebar of the trip page.
What’s Included/Not Included?
All trips and trip prices include the following.
* Professional Guide Service: Experience is paramount, as is a friendly, flexible atmosphere for your trip, and Expeditions Alaska go out of our way to bring that to the backcountry. I know the routes, the natural history and the place as well as anyone, and all the best campsites! Backcountry camping in Alaska can be intimidating for a novice and even for some intermediate and experienced hikers. A qualified guide service can go a long way to minimizing problems that may come up. Customers returning for
seven eight nineten consecutive hiking trips with Expeditions Alaska speaks volumes for the value of a good guide.
* Travel and Accommodations: Expeditions Alaska typically offers a complete .
For example, for our Wrangell-St. Elias National Park trips, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in Anchorage, drive to McCarthy in our comfortable conversion van, stay the night at the Kennecott River Lodge, enjoy a hot breakfast the following morning in McCarthy, then fly into the backcountry. Backpack and hike for your trip, fly back to McCarthy, have the afternoon in and around McCarthy, exploring the Kennecott Glacier, or the old mines up at Kennecott, spend another night at the Kennecott River Lodge, and drive back to Anchorage the final day, right to your hotel in Anchorage.
For the ANWR trips, we’ll usually travel from Fairbanks to Coldfoot or Kaktovik by plane, then fly into the backcountry. Whether we pick you up at your hotel in Fairbanks or not will depend on whether we’re driving or flying north. If we fly, we’ll meet you at the airport. If we’re driving, we’ll pick you up.
* Gear: We can provide all cookware, fuel, etc for the trip. Feel free to let us know if you’d like to bring your own. We can get the fuel you need as it’s not possible for you to fly with any fuel in your luggage. If you would prefer a fully outfitted trip we can accommodate that. You’ll need to bring your personal gear, such as a sleeping bag and backpack. We’ll also provide bear-resistant food canisters and bear spray for the trip. Expeditions Alaska trips will also provide a cook tent for the trip. We also provide hiking poles for you if you don’t have your own.
* Safety: Any professional guide service puts safety first. This means caution, it means responsibility and it means an excellent knowledge of the area: the terrain, wildlife and travel, backcountry camping and safety. Fully qualified Wilderness First Aid certification. A satellite phone available for emergency backcountry service if necessary and a backup emergency messaging device such as Delorme inReach or PLB. We bring a GPS, map and compass on every route we do. This is an owner-operated business and all participants can feel confident knowing they’re not getting an intern or inexperienced guide for their trip.
* Storage: Extra travel items that won’t be needed while we’re in the backcountry (limited space available).
What’s Not Included?
Expeditions Alaska do not provide the following unless otherwise specified.
a) food and camping gear — Expeditions Alaska will outfit your trip if you would like us to. For a minimal addition in cost, I’m glad to supply food and camping gear (you will need your own personal gear, such as a sleeping bag, pad, clothes, pack, etc). Any specific items you may need help with, just send me an email or call me and I’ll work it out for you.
b) travel arrangements to Anchorage from outside Alaska.
c) trip insurance. Our suggestion is Travelex.
d) travel meals. Any hotel or lodge meals we eat in the frontcountry are not included in your price. So if we stop to eat along the road, for example, we do not pick up the tab for that.
d) guide gratuities.
The ANWR and Gates of the Arctic National Park trips include all travel (return) from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, or from Fairbanks to Kaktovik, where we fly into the Refuge, as well as rafts, dry bags, etc. The Icy Bay and Malaspina Glacier trips start and end in Yakutat, Alaska. Because of the nature of backcountry adventure, trips vary year to year. Each trip is also available for longer or shorter durations, and trip prices vary accordingly. Similarly, group bookings (3 or more participants) can receive substantial discounts.
For more information, contact us using the Contact Form here.
All clients complete the backcountry waiver before departing for any of our trips.
Reserving your place on a trip requires a 50% deposit. Deposits are non-refundable. All tripsbe paid in full 45 days prior to the scheduled departure date.
If the client cancels on a trip paid in full, 90% of the price can be deferred to another trip within the next 12 months, provided that
i) Expeditions Alaska is able to fill the spot,
ii) the trip is full and
iii) 30 days notice is given.
If cancellation is within 30 days of the trip only 75% of the fee can be carried over to a future trip. No refunds are given for cancellations within 14 days of the trip departure.
Expeditions Alaska reserves the right to cancel and/or modify the itinerary of a trip. You will be refunded your payment in full if Expeditions Alaska cancels your trip.
If weather or other factors delay or impede your trip, there will be no refund of fees. Expeditions Alaska is not responsible for any other costs incurred by the client as a result of the cancellation. Additional costs incurred through weather delays and itinerary changes are the responsibility of the client.
I still have more questions