Friday, August 27, 2010 at 5:20AM
Summer in Alaska is about packrafting. If you can navigate the rivers then Alaska is at your disposal. Packrafts are six-pound backcountry boats. Think Kmart raft with $1000 worth of durability.
Last weekend Cathy, Gretchen Roffler and I packrafted a portion of the East Fork of the Chulitna River, an hour north of Talkeetna. We started where the Parks Highway crosses the East Fork, hiked Hardage Creek to a pass and over to the East Fork to float back to our cars. Dreamy.
A guidebook for packrafting isn't out yet, but it's coming. Our info for the East Fork of the Chulitna River came from packrafting.org. Brad Meiklejohn's description had typical Alaskan class. He provides the necessary route info, but leaves out extraneous details. Brad mentions nothing of the bushes in Hardage Creek. We found some bushes where moose live. Then we camped at bushline.
Cathy and Gretchen at treeline camp in Hardage Creek. For this trip we eschewed stove and tent. Instead we roasted franks over a fire, slept under a tarp, and drank cowboy coffee for breakfast. A hole dug by a grizzly after a rodent made an ideal fire pit.
Real coffee. Dylan Taylor told me to never boil cowboy coffee. We boiled the coffee and it was incredible. I'll never listen to Dylan again.
At the 4,600-foot pass between Hardage Creek and our descent to the East Fork.
Down in those bushes that Alaskans don't notice is where we got in our boats. Rob Whitney and Corey Smith (two fit boys) did an extended version of our trip. Read Corey's story.
Yum! Low bush blueberries.
Gretchen in first canyon.
Scoping the class III crux entrance to second canyon.
Back on the Parks Highway at 7:30 PM. The weekend I've lusted after for three years. Oh Alaska!