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Topic: Wrangell-St. Elias NP Hiking, What to hike< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2012, 6:18 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So I will be in Alaska this summer working in Naknek. I want to do some hiking since I am up there and have chosen to go to Wrangell.

I am looking for a hike that is about 6 or 7 days. I will hike prolly the last week in July.

So anyone got any suggestions?

Do I need to get from Naknek to Anchorage and then get a flight out of there? Who should I use?

I am in good shape and have some good experience hiking but just don't have much experience actually setting up the trips.

Any help would be appreciated.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2012, 2:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wildhawg

Yes, you need to get from Naknek to Anchorage. Flying from Anchorage to Wrangell - St. Elias is expensive .. you'd have to charter a flight. There are a few shuttle services you can look at.

Wrangell - St. Elias NP is a big place. There's a wide array of choices. What works best for you depends on so many things.

The Sanford Plateau is a great option, and means you only have to travel Anchorage - Glennalllen, which is less travel time.

The Goat Trail means you have to travel Anchorage - McCarthy, which is longer and more involved. It's a good walk.

Iceberg lake - Bremner Mines is a good hike, a little harder.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 06 2012, 6:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You will probably need to fly from Naknek to King Salmon, and then to Anchorage.  Look up Pen Air, they have regular service between King Salmon and Anchorage.

As far as getting to the park itself goes, Glenallen and McCarthy are two jumping off points for the park.

Here are two air services, one in McCarthy and one in Glenallen.

http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/

http://www.coppervalleyair.com/Bi-Week....thy.php

Copper Valley Air has a flight from Anchorage out to the area of the park and you could then coordinate a drop off/pick up with them.

Alternatively, you could get a ride with a shuttle like this one (which costs less than flying from ANC):

http://www.kennicottguides.com/gettinghere.htm#shttl

Without knowing whether you are hiking into the park, or getting dropped off somewhere, it is hard to give you any advice beyond that.  Carl (Walkinman) guides trips in the park, he is a great resource.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2012, 12:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey guys thanks for the info. After researching everything I think I have decided to do the Goat Trail. I think I will really enjoy it. I really can't wait.

Walkingman or anyone else have any tips/heads up for the trail?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2012, 4:17 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey Wildhawg

Are you hiking the route solo? Or with a group? On a guided trip?

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 10 2012, 11:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I will be going solo
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 10 2012, 12:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Cool.

My advice:

Allow at least 2 more days than you think you need to walk the route.

Are you heading from Skoai to the strip at Wolverine? Or down to Glacier Creek? I'd say stay high and go to Wolverine; you avoid crossing the Chitistone River that way. And Wolverine's an interesting area to hike.

The trickiest section is the actual ravine called 'The Goat Trail' - you'll know it when you see it. Without posting photos and tons of detail, all I can tell you is do NOT take the lower trail. The main one, that you THINK will be the right one, is the wrong one. Climb up the the ridge maybe 50 yards BEFORE entering the ravine ; the correct trail will traverse horizontally, not descend, across the scree slope, then after maybe 75 yards start to ascend, gradually. When you finally are on the other side of the ravine, you'll be a good few hundred feet HIGHER than you started. If you take a trail and find yourself heading LOWER than where you started into the gorge from, you're on the wrong one.

Do some side exploring .. definitely allow a day to hike over to the Russell Glacier and that area (south of Chitistone Pass). And spend a day up in Hole in the Wall.

When in August will you be there? I'll very likely be there Aug 6-11 or so.

PS: I'l post some comments on your other thread in the gear forum too.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 12 2012, 11:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey Carl

Thanks so much for your help.

Can you give me the names of a couple of companies that shuttle into McCarthy from Anchorage and also who will fly me into the park to hike the Goat Trail for a pretty good price?

I really want to do this and have a blast but I also need to not just go overboard spending money so I need to figure out the cheapest way to make the trip but still have a blast.

Thanks
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 14 2012, 3:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

wildhawg

I'd look at the services trollinmotor mentioned above. For flying in to the goat trail area, go with either Wrangell Mountain Air or McCarthy Air (from McCarthy).

A shuttle service from Anchorage to Glennallen, then another to McCarthy can sometimes be configured.

The cheapest way, is to hitch. You can usually get a ride. Or hitch part way, say from Glennallen to McCarthy.

Jen's the cheapest and best option to go direct from Anchorage - McCarthy, imo.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 18 2012, 2:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As usual, Carl has given some great advice.  Follow it!  Definitely allow a couple of extra days.  20+ years ago I was heading towards the Gorge when the NPS had a pilot drop us a message indicating we should not try to cross the Chitistone.  There was record heat that summer and 2 groups ahead of us suffered serious injuries trying to cross the swollen river.  We were on a tight schedule so we ended up going back to Skolai Pass area and getting picked up there a couple of days later.  That was the last time I ever planned an Alaskan trip based on things going anything close to perfectly!  Of course it could have been worse - like all the folks who got stuck in the backcountry in the aftermath of 9/11 when all flights were banned!
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 18 2012, 3:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd also highly recommend the hike ending on Wolverine Mountain. I did it 12 years ago. A photographic virtual tour of my hike is here recounting many of the trip's trials and tribulations and will give you a great idea of what's in store.
Wrangell St. Elias
We rented an SUV and drove it from Anchorage to McCarthy. Then we used Wrangell Mountain air. Our photos may still be on their web site.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 17 2012, 11:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

hey, i'm also looking at visiting that area for this summer and have a really important question i'd like to tag on to this thread.  how difficult is it to cross over a glacier (root glacier exactly to donoho peak area) when you have NO experience with chunks of ice? 'ya read about all the risks of glacier travel, but i don't want to end up paying a lot of money for a guide when i just need to get across it. crossing over to the hidden lake and hiking up hidden creek a little bit would be nice also, but another glacier.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 19 2012, 5:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Brandon

When will you be there. The root glacier is typically snow free by late June, sometimes  earlier. You should have crampons; and experience with crampons. It's p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e to hike it without crampons, but that's super contextual, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone without knowing their experience level, etc.

The crossing over the Kennicott Glacier to Hidden Creek is definitely more involved; you don't need to rope up or anything, but route finding is an issue, and it's easy to waste a day running into oblique walls, etc.

If you're just going over to Donoho basin and then backpacking there, before coming back, my suggestion (without knowing anything about your experience, etc) would be to hire a guide to just walk you over the Root. That would be a minimal cost, then you're on your own for the rest of your trip. Call Jared at Kennicott Wilderness Guides, and talk to him; they could easy hire a guide out for a half day to help you cross the glacier.

cheers

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PostIcon Posted on: May 20 2012, 3:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i've posted this similiar topic elsewhere and got five replies telling me to get a guide (and one guy there for comic relief--don't ask, i'm confused too).

we've actually been talking to jared for about two months now and he's been extremely helpful and patient in planning other parts of our vacation. and we do like the idea of having someonen there to answer our touristy questions. guess we'll stick with him :p  

main reason we started wondering if a guide is worth it is because the initial plan consisted of thee days of hiking we could do on our own (since it didn't touch the glacier) and one day were we'd really need him since it was exploring the glacier. but i've sent him a email asking for a more involved trip (basically, crossing the root to donoho and base camping there)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 29 2014, 2:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thinking of a trip there, this year or next.  What are the best maps/mapping to use for the Goat Trip from Wolverine airstrip to Skolai airstrip?

Thanks,
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2014, 7:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Three

Topos are USGS McCarthy C-3 and C-4.

I use the Nat Geo topo software now. None of the maps have the Skolai-Wolverine route marked on them, or the Wolverine airstrip.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2014, 7:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

PS: I just re-read the thread. For anyone interested in the route, the info I posted above in Post #7 is for the last ravine if you're headed FROM Skolai TO Wolverine. Coming FROM Wolverine, you should hit the main ravine on a trail that leads you right where you want to go.

There are 4 ravines to cross, the trickiest to navigate is the big one, last on Skolai  -> Wolverine or the first one Wolverine -> Skolai.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 9:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Mar. 31 2014, 7:33 pm)
QUOTE
Three

Topos are USGS McCarthy C-3 and C-4.

I use the Nat Geo topo software now. None of the maps have the Skolai-Wolverine route marked on them, or the Wolverine airstrip.

Cheers

Carl

Thanks Carl.  Appreciate it.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 9:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Apr. 01 2014, 9:44 pm)
QUOTE

(Walkinman @ Mar. 31 2014, 7:33 pm)
QUOTE
Three

Topos are USGS McCarthy C-3 and C-4.

I use the Nat Geo topo software now. None of the maps have the Skolai-Wolverine route marked on them, or the Wolverine airstrip.

Cheers

Carl

Thanks Carl.  Appreciate it.

Carl,

Maybe a dumb question.  Do you usually pack ropes for stream crossings or traverses?   Looked on your website and didn't see it on your gear list.

Thanks
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 1:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Apr. 01 2014, 7:47 pm)
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Carl,

Maybe a dumb question.  Do you usually pack ropes for stream crossings or traverses?   Looked on your website and didn't see it on your gear list.

Thanks

Are you talking about roping group members together while crossing streams, or attaching a rope across the creek for folks to hold on to?

Neither one is a terribly good idea.  I've crossed a lot of deep fast-moving streams in AK and elsewhere (although the location is irrelevant).  Attaching yourself to a rope is a disaster waiting to happen if you do go under.   Being attached to a fixed rope while underwater is a scripted recipe for drowning... you'd like to pop up but the rope and the force of the current keep you pinned in place.  Being attached to everyone else just means "if one goes down, we all go down," and the complication of snags/entanglement underwater make it particularly dangerous.  Setting up a rope on both sides as a handhold doesn't do much better, since you still need 2 of your group cross the creek without its benefit (one to set the rope at the start, the other to remove it at the end), and if you fall you'll be unlikely to be able to keep ahold of it anyway.  It just serves as a mental handrail more than a physical one.  If you get swept down by current, it is far better to go with it, put your feet forward and hop/scramble to the bank when you can, whether it's 10 feet downstream or 200.

But the fact remains, if a river is safe to cross, you don't need a rope.  And if it's not safe to cross, a rope doesn't make it safer at all.  Better to use your own judgement and footing when crossing a creek.  Trekking poles help.  Spend time scouting up-down stream until you find a place you can do it without rope, or if the river is just too fast/deep, you may have to change your route accordingly.

I wish you guys the best of luck in your trip, but please don't rely on ropes to keep you safe when crossing creeks that you otherwise wouldn't.   Be safe out there.

- Mike



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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 5:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ Apr. 01 2014, 5:47 pm)
QUOTE

(Three @ Apr. 01 2014, 9:44 pm)
QUOTE

(Walkinman @ Mar. 31 2014, 7:33 pm)
QUOTE
Three

Topos are USGS McCarthy C-3 and C-4.

I use the Nat Geo topo software now. None of the maps have the Skolai-Wolverine route marked on them, or the Wolverine airstrip.

Cheers

Carl

Thanks Carl.  Appreciate it.

Carl,

Maybe a dumb question.  Do you usually pack ropes for stream crossings or traverses?   Looked on your website and didn't see it on your gear list.

Thanks

Hey Three

As GoBlue said, no, a rope is not a good idea for river crossings. Rope and water aren't a good mix; a last resort even for experienced Swiftwater Rescue teams.

For the traverses like the goat trail, a rope wouldn't be very useful. You can't anchor off, and you're not going to hold on to a rope with someone attached to it once they've fallen down the mountain. You can't stand on a sketchy narrow crumbly trail and stop someone falling with an unanchored rope.

I've used a rope ONCE for crossing the Chitistone River, where I wrapped a pack cover around my pack, roped it up and threw the other end of the rope across the river (where luckily it stuck) .. I swam the river, walked over and grabbed the rope end, and played my pack across the river like a 65lb rainbow. Worked like a charm.

That was on a solo trip. I wouldn't do it that way with a group. And I wouldn't do it that way again.

It's much easier to turn around and go back if I can't find a decent crossing spot.

If you go Skolai to or from Wolverine, and not Glacier Ck, you won't be crossing the Chitistone River; the largest crossing will be 3/4 of the way down the Chitistone valley before the goat trail, coming down the mtnside from the north/right. It's fast and can be nasty; but very doable. The best spot to cross is down low, right above where the stream runs into the bigger water in the main valley. I've hiked all the way up the hillside to the lake the stream comes out of, and never found a better option at high water.

Do NOT fall into the main river. Death awaits you a short way downstream.

The main concern with the Goat Trail section is taking the wrong trail (they're actually sheep trails, not goat trails). If you follow the wrong one you'll get cliffed out. The info in Greg's Falcon Guide on this section is wrong; don't follow that.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 7:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Apr. 02 2014, 3:48 pm)
QUOTE
I've used a rope ONCE for crossing the Chitistone River, where I wrapped a pack cover around my pack, roped it up and threw the other end of the rope across the river (where luckily it stuck) .. I swam the river, walked over and grabbed the rope end, and played my pack across the river like a 65lb rainbow. Worked like a charm.

That was on a solo trip. I wouldn't do it that way with a group. And I wouldn't do it that way again.

This tends to work better.  :;):   Just sayin'.



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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 8:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
Setting up a rope on both sides as a handhold doesn't do much better, since you still need 2 of your group cross the creek without its benefit (one to set the rope at the start, the other to remove it at the end), and if you fall you'll be unlikely to be able to keep ahold of it anyway.


Been part of this for a slow moving, comparatively wide river with trees to anchor to on both sides.   Group was much larger.

Carl and Mike, appreciate the advice for AK and mountain streams and I plan to follow it.  Thanks.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 9:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ha ha, Mike .. yeah, that works much better .... til you hit some ridiculous raging mess hurtling down a mountainside. :)

I wouldn't ferry across the Chitistone River down where I crossed it then, unless I had either a hard boat or a bigger packraft .. maybe in my Explorer 42, with a helmet. A better solution, 99% of the time, is to spend more time looking for better places to cross.

Even many of the smaller streams here, Toby Creek (runs into the Chitistone from the south side, maybe 2-3 miles downstream) is ridiculous .. and a packraft isn't the ideal mode to cross .. it's narrow, broiling water. The one I mentioned in the post above coming down the mountainside before the G. trail is steeper .. way too steep to paddle in a packraft. It's wadable, not terribly deep, just treacherously rocky and turbulent.

Three - as I said, that trip, unless you go to Glacier Creek, or down Doubtful Creek, river crossings aren't really a problem. They're all pretty manageable, unless you get some silly high water.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I know Carl. :)  I was just making a light-hearted joke.  I've crossed plenty a narrow, frothing creek while carrying my packraft on my back because pulling it out would've been impractical at best.  Although I do think perhaps you slightly underestimate the whitewater capability of those little rafts, but that's another topic altogether.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 10:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh, definitely .. and I learn more about them every year.

I've paddled them in some big water .. and some of my friends here do crazy stuff with them. We ran the Lakina at high water last year, and some of those were Class IV holes. And I'm thinking about doing the Kuskulana this year if I get a chance. The gorge is pretty gnarly I'm told.

I just emailed alpacka about modding some of my boats to add the cargo fly and the whitewater spray decks. The Cargo Fly is awesome.

It's more that it's easier to run a whitewater river than ferry across a super fast river.

QUOTE
I've crossed plenty a narrow, frothing creek while carrying my packraft on my back because pulling it out would've been impractical at best.

For sure, and it works the other way too ... I've carried boats across a river for the same reason, when we so CLEARLY should have paddled them. One group didn't want to stop and inflate the boats and so on, so waded a river, but one of them then took a nasty swim. In 35˚F water. As I said once I hauled him out and then ferried him and 2 others across ... "that we just carried these boats and gear 60 miles across the countryside to NOT use them to cross a waist deep river is as dumb as it gets". :)

We learn by doing.


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(Walkinman @ Apr. 02 2014, 8:36 pm)
QUOTE
I just emailed alpacka about modding some of my boats to add the cargo fly and the whitewater spray decks. The Cargo Fly is awesome.

Do, definitely.  Ever since I got the spray deck added to mine, I wouldn't want to run anything even slightly turbulent without it.  Makes a world of difference.

Now if they can just figure out how to enable an Eskimo roll in one, we'll be set. :p  No luck yet on that, though I have foolishly tried before.  It worked about as well as you'd expect, lol.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2014, 4:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey Mike

I have one boat with the whitewater spray deck and the cargo fly. It's a no brainer, imo.

They're definitely "roll-able"; it's different to rolling a hard boat, for sure, but in some ways easier. Now a full on combat roll in big water I'm not so sure about; I think the deck would pull off too often. Some folks are putting thigh straps in to help with rolling them, and definitely move the seat forward to sit closer to the center for any real whitewater boating.


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