Monday, September 10, 2012

9/8/12 Packrafting Upper Resurrection Creek

It was a really nice day. I feel guilty packrafting when it's sunny. Anyways...we hiked up the Resurrection Pass Trail from the Hope Trailhead 7 miles to a footbridge (just before Caribou Creek). We floated about 1.5 miles until we entered a burn area. The main channel split into several channels and numerous strainers were across all of them. I wouldn't recommend floating this upper section.

We also checked out, but did not run, the Cascades. There is a spot on the trail where you can see a boulder the size of a tool shed through the brush on the opposite bank of the creek. This is a good spot to put in above the Cascades. We took a look at the rapids, but not good enough to know if there were more drops or if there was any wood. They looked class II+ to IV. 

We put in below the Cascades about a quarter mile. We ran into one place where there was a sweeper and strainer across the entire channel. It was around a blind corner, but there was an eddy that was very easy to grab. From there it wasn't far to a mini canyon with some II+ drops and waves. After that it was class II back to the trailhead. No more wood either. It was a fun float, but only the Cascades down seemed worth it. It probably goes without saying, but scout the Cascades well. The Sixmile gauge was 9.62ft/0.963kcfs and some of the creek could have used some more water.

 The Cascades


Monday, September 3, 2012

8/24-25/12 Delgga Mountain & Paradise Peak

The plan this weekend was to attempt four summits in the Paradise Pass area of Chugach State Park. The weather forecast morphed as the trip approached, and it looked like rain for Friday evening and Sunday, but partly sunny for most of Saturday. This was a pretty good forecast for this summer so we headed out Friday evening on the Crow Pass Trail from Girdwood.

Wind kicked up during the hike and the ceiling dropped as we got intermittent showers. We sidehilled in and out of Clear Creek and continued sidehilling into Paradise Valley. With only a couple hours of light left we decided to set up camp in the lower Paradise Valley. The light rain began as we were setting up our tents and quit early next morning.

We woke up to fog with blue patches. We walked through dense fog until just below Paradise Pass. We climbed up the scree got a view of our options. The peaks across Moraine Pass were obscured by clouds, including our objective Synthesizer Mountain. We could see Delgga Mountain so decided to follow the ridge and connect to Paradise Peak as well. It was a fun scrambly ridge to the summit and down to the saddle between the summits. We had to drop from the ridge occasionally to avoid exposed sections. It was a walk up to Paradise's summit. From there we descended scree slopes back into Paradise Valley. 

Once back at camp we discussed the feasibility of staying another night and trying to climb either Synthesizer or the Kinglets. The evening was turning really nice, but we decided to bail because of the weather forecast. Turns out it was a good decision, because it rained and blew all Sunday in Girdwood. 

Because we weren't able to climb any other peaks it was a little unnecessary to make this an overnighter, but it was sure a nice camp spot. The total distance was 16.8 miles with 7200 feet of elevation gain which would make this a good day hike.

 Hiking down moraines on the Crow Pass Trail.

 Clear Creek

 Sidehilling into Paradise Valley.

 A little alcove to keep our cooking gear dry.

 Paradise Valley

 Two Marmots

 Hiking through the soup.

 Paradise Pass

 Moraine Pass and Grizzly Bear Lake with Pyramid Point on the right.

 Delgga Mountain with Paradise Peak peeking out on the right.

 Paradise Valley

 The ridge to Delgga's summit.

 Paradise Peak

 Summit of Delgga.

 On our way to Paradise Peak.


 Who's on the summit of Paradise Peak? This Guy...

 Looking towards Eagle River.

 Crow Pass and Raven Creek Valley

 Back at camp.

 Cirrus clouds over Raggedtop.

8/11-12/12 East Fork Chulitna River Backpacking/Packrafting Loop

I've read posts on this river over the last couple years, and it sounded like some fun packrafting. It was time to check out some whitewater with overnight gear. Originally we had decided to make this a long day, but thought there might be some route-finding challenges and played it safe and planned for two. I'd recommend two days if it's your first time doing the route we did, unless it's closer to the solstice.

We chose the Hardage Creek access. You can park at the Chulitna River Raft put-in at the East Fork Bridge, or at the East Fork Wayside a few hundred feet North. From the South side of the bridge we headed South to the intertie. We followed that a short ways until we bushwhacked East where we ran into an ATV trail. We followed that until we saw Hardage Creek head SE. From there we left the ATV trail, and walked up a meadow until brush forced us into the creek. We crossed the stream countless times until we reached the moraines that led us to the beautiful 4600 foot pass. 

We traversed the hillside until the easiest walking led us to drop into the creek and follow the tundra bench on the South side of the creek. At the point we dropped into the creek Jason cut his hand on some shale pretty bad so we had to tape him up. He lived! We had to drop in and out of a couple drainages, but animal trails and the path of least resistance led us the right way. Eventually we headed North across the creek we were paralleling and hiked through Dwarf Birch for a couple miles before getting forced into bushwhacking. We opted to Willow and Alder rappel down to the creek where we tried walking in the creek and busting through thick brush. Before long, we reached gravel bars in the brush we could connect, that led us downstream. There was one good sandy camp that we passed by (on the unnamed creek), but ended up finding a spot above Crooked Creek a mile further. Total travel time so far was 11 hours.

We were able to float from near our camp to the Chulitna. The banks of the Chulitna near Crooked Creek have large cobbles so not great camping; just something to keep in mind. It was relaxed class 1 to 2- floating in the shallow river until the entrance to the first canyon section. The water isn't terribly difficult, but it pays to scout so you enter the small drops in the right channels. There was one class III drop in the first canyon section and one III+ drop in the second canyon section. Don't rush through the beautiful canyon!

After exiting the second canyon it's a mix of boulder dodging and class II rapids; it's never mellow enough to just sit back because of constant maneuvering. In the last mile be on alert for wood. There was one tree that was leaning over the entire channel that is slowly falling. The floating took us 7 hours. The trip total was 30 miles (equal parts hiking and floating) with 3000 feet of elevation gain. This trip is what packrafts are made for!

 East Fork Chulitna Wayside.

 The Intertie

 Brief Schwack

 We found the ATV trail.

 The most deliciousest of all berries. The Clouderry.
To me it tasted like a mango creamsicle!

 Leaving the ATV Trail.

 Hardage Creek

 Moraine Ahead

4600 foot pass

The valley we dropped into.

 All taped up!


 Dwarf Birch

 After the brush rappelling.

Ode to Ed Plumb's East Fork trip!

 Crooked Creek

 Confluence of East Fork of the Chulitna and Crooked Creek.

 Canyon Entrance


 Hauling out a packraft!

 Back to the Parks Highway Bridge.