Jason and I took off for the mountains south of Delta, part of the eastern Alaska Range on Friday. My guidebook, Outside in the Interior: An Adventure Guide for Central Alaska
describes the hiking in the area as “limited only by your imagination”. I’m quickly discovering that this is really the only way to describe most backcountry travel in this state. I think we both expected more of a “trail” here, but after searching for and failing to find an elusive cairn described by the book we just took off in an upward direction.
The whole photo set is up on flickr here.
After about a two or three hundred foot near vertical adventure of literal swimming through alders we managed to get to some more rocky terrain. We continued to gain elevation until the sliding talus gave way to tundra and the colors became spectacular. It’s already fall in much of Alaska and the colors were really starting to show here.
We still had to trudge through some low bushes and make our way through a couple of short stretches of loose talus, but the hiking was pretty mild. Within a few minutes and a couple zig-zags we were out into the open.
We had some choices: hug the main talus slope, down to a small lake, or stay on the ridge and head north. We liked the idea of staying on tundra so we stayed on the ridge.
Really cool view of the mountains, Delta River, and a little alpine lake.
Eventually the ground changed from rocky to two foot deep “sponge” and walking became tiring very fast. We probably walked for more than an hour on the soft stuff and I was getting pretty done with it. We did see ptarmigan, though.
A quick descent through thick alders took us to a tree-filled and then rocky valley with a jeep road. We erroneously walked along the road for about three miles in hopes of getting to Canwell Glacier. We didn’t make it all the way because it was getting late, rain started to fall, and we had a 7 mile hike back to the car. At the end of the day we had walked around 18 miles and my legs felt pretty trashed, but it was a really great day.
On the drive home we saw lots of moose, a swan, and a freaking spectacular sunset!