The Atwell's Roadtrip Adventures travel blog

Nabesna Road Beaver

Carly and Erik in the Spruce and Alder

Creek Hiking

Across the Valley

Carly taking a break from Boulder trekking

First Sheep

Magnificent Geology. Leftovers from a past eruption

More geology

A whole troop of Dahl Sheep

Back through the wash across the valley

More sheep. They were everywhere.

Well stare!

Another view across the valley

Mommy and Carly piking their way up the ridge.

The gang near the top of the ridge

Mom and daughter checking us out.

More sheep.

Hello!

Lamb not worried about us at all

On the way back down

Another spectacular view

Down the Ridge

Ahh, Back into the rocks.

Ptarmigan were numerous.

Looking up the mountain

Ah. Isn't that special?

I didn't know camelbaks had an octopus.

Trumpeter cruising

The road to.....

Here

Moon rise in Wrangell

Yellow moon rising

Mount Sanford

Mud puppies

Grafitti

This sheep can't hold it's on horns up


Wrangell St. Elias National Park is the largest NP in the United States. It’s connected to Kluane on the Canadian side. It’s pretty much a wilderness park with very little in the way of facilities and visitor amenities….but it displays overwhelming views and terrain and provides an immenseness of solitude.

Maybe we’ve spent too much time around the tourist trap part of Alaska and not enough in the wilderness which is what really endears us to this place. We seemed to get more relaxed as we entered the Wrangell, St. Elias area and it’s emptiness… Well, empty, except for the hunters. It’s now hunting season here.

We spent a couple of hours at the visitor center which is situated about half way between the only two roads that lead into the park. There were very good exhibits there and the rangers were very friendly and helpful.

We decided to explore only one of the roads into the park, the Nabesna Road which is a 40 miles gravel and mud road. There are no formal campgrounds in the park but there are many primitive camp sites distributed along the road. We drove 20 miles in and set up camp on Rock Lake. Our camper and truck are now brown, but it’s a lovely shade of brown! There is also quite a bit of graffiti on the truck now as well. Yes it’s still raining.

We decided to do the Skookum Volcano hike as recommended by one of the rangers at the visitor center. Magically, the clouds parted and we saw some blue sky and mountains, many mountains, snow capped, snow covered, barren, and green, yellow and red ones. Wow!

As the day progressed the blue sky increased. We plied the trail through alder and spruce forests until we came to a creek.. It took us a while to find a crossing that the kids could manage but we finally did and it was onward and upward following the creek/creek bed. We ended up having to do many creek crossings but with no mishaps. Most of the rest of the trail followed the boulder laden creek up toward a pass. This was the first hike greater than 2k feet elevation change that the kids didn’t whine a little. The secret is rock! The more rocks, the more happiness and obliviousness to other impediments. In the pass we hiked up a ridge on the soft carpeted tundra. As you can imagine the views were magnificent as well as the geology. We were able to get within 50 meters of sheep and probably saw 100 total. We also ran across a large group of Ptarmigan which entertained us by flying along the ridges.

On the hike we also crossed paths with a hunter who told us to watch out for bears as there were many in the area. He also gave us some tips on where and how far to go and not go. He said that “they” were allowed to take 10 moose and 10 or so bear in this area of the Park which is really the “Preserve” section. He was very helpful and friendly as all of the locals that we have encountered have been….until the kids almost hit him with an errantly thrown rock…… The hunter’s warnings of bears, darkness and tough terrain did sufficiently worry the mom so we hiked down pretty fast once we reached our destination.

After returning to the camper we were greeted with a magnificent moonrise over the mountains which further delayed our fine gourmet dinner of clammy patties and the last of the Kenai Stew.



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