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Thread: Amateurs wanting to go to alaska

  1. #1
    New member
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    Nov 2008

    Default Amateurs wanting to go to alaska

    Me and my friends are experienced outdoors-men in college... we were wanting to do a 10 day trip to Alaska this summer and wondered if there were any services that would provide us w/ the necessary gear so we didn't have to carry it half way around the world and tell us good places to hike to. we didn't want a guide so we could go at our own fish a whole day or bust out 15 miles hiking in a day. could you please provide me with the names of such services if there are any? thanks

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Gates of the Arctic

    I take float trips each year in Alaska, but don't do much hiking. But have been learning more about it lately as I am heading to ANWR in June. Also planning a float trip on the Alatna in Gates of the Arctic for 2010. Hiking the Arrigetch peaks is the big draw there. Average fishing on the Alatna, but some fishing could be done. The Arrigetch peaks may be worth looking at. Huge granite spires surrounded by other mountains. Google search that using the "images" feature on Google. The two main bush pilots there are Brooks Range Aviation and Bettles Lodge. Both located in Bettles. You could rent a raft from them and hike up into the Arrigetch peaks from the Circle Lake drop off and spend 5 days hiking the peaks. You could return to the stashed raft/fishing gear/food, and float down 70 miles for a pick up at Helpmejack Creek. You would want to rent an electric fence to store the raft/food/gear in while you were hiking. Bears might have their way with it otherwise. You can rent a fence in Fairbanks or Anchorage and have it sent to Bettles to await your arrival. That would be an awesome 5 day hike/5 day float through some pristine wilderness. This is pretty much the trip my wife and I are planning. Brooks Range Aviation rents gear if I am not mistaken. If not, someone in Fairbanks surely would. You would be going Anchorage-Fairbanks-Bettles-Circle Lake. In either case, you would have not trouble renting tents/stoves/raft/etc... Both places in Bettles have websites with info. Contact them for places to rent gear if they don't provide that service. They would know who you could contact. They would fly you up to the Arrigetch peaks area in a bush plane. One example would be landing on Circle Lake and hiking 10-14 miles up to the peaks. You could spend 7-10 days hiking the peaks and nearby areas without getting bored. A very interesting area in a beautiful and remote part of the state. Lots of bugs in June/July. August would be a good time if you ask me to go. The end of August is when the fall colors come out from what I can gather. But like I said, I am just researching the area myself so I can not give any first hand info. But from what I have learned, this would be an awesome place to hike/camp. Nice easy float trip too. No rapids or hazards of any kind from Circle Lake down to Helpmejack Creek. Some rapids in the upper sections of the Alatna, but none below Circle Lake. Lots of wildlife in the area from what I can gather. Solitude and great scenery are hard to beat. Below is a link to some pictures of the area and some other information that would offer insights.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  3. #3
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    North Pole, Alaska


    Good job on your last post, DanattheRock. It was very thorough.

    Personally, what I would suggest is to bring as much of your gear that is important to you and that you are adamant about, but do not duplicate too much of what you bring.
    For example: If there are 10 of you and 5 of you have JetBoils, why bring all of them when you could probably be okay with bringing 1 or 2?
    Another example: Possibly an outfitter says that they will provide sleeping bags on their website. Maybe that's an area that they 'forgot' to change on their website. You just traveled 1/2 way around the world to make it to Alaska without having your sleeping bag(s). See? There are some things you can do without, but there are others that you can NOT whatsoever do without. So... choose... and choose wisely.

    If there is one area that I can emphasize the most, it would be to BE PREPARED. Alaska is far different than any other kind of hiking or climbing in the world. There is more skill to be had in this state than most others when it comes to being outdoors. The elements are far more risky here in Alaska. My suggestion is that you purchase a book called 'Alaska. A Climbing Guide.' by Michael Wood or Colby Coombs. This will provide you with the different rating system that Alaska mountains have.

    I also want you to take into consideration some very real avenues.
    When you are here in Alaska, issues that you will find are remoteness and wildlife. Although I know that you will mostly enjoy both, those are also risks.

    If I could help more, I would. My experience only goes so far.
    Good luck in your endeavor in Alaska and provide a trip report because we would love to hear all about it.
    (1800th post)

  4. #4


    I don't have the specific information you're looking for, but I have plenty of experience hiking up there. I grew up in the Southeast and still hike for up to a week at a time in that area every summer.

    The other posters have good advice. Due to weather, remoteness, ruggedness, animals that want your food, it's important to be well prepared. Depending where you go, getting to a trail (or to the base of a nice off-trail mountain range) can be a lot harder than just taking a cab. You might have to charter a boat or plane. It can get very cold, wet, and windy in many places near year round, and my experience is that there's no cellphone reception in most places. All this means that you might get stuck for a while if something goes wrong. Sometimes, bringing or caching an extra week's worth of food is a good idea just in case. A satellite phone or emergency beacon that is shared by the group is also a good idea.

    Going off-trail can be a real challenge. I've had times when I wished I had a packable raft and rappelling gear. If you're used to trails, stick to 'em for the most part.

    I recommend bringing something to protect your food, like a bear bag or canister. Something to protect yourselves too: bear spray, lightweight hunting rifles, or big revolvers if you're comfortable with them. The only animals I've ever had trouble with are mink. They ate my cookies. Protection still brings peace of mind, though.

    I find it hard to be prepared for the worst, yet not have to carry a ton of weight on my back. I can get it down to about 32 lbs. with a week's worth of food if all I'm doing is hiking in the summer below the snowline with no plans to hunt or fish. Coordinating who's got what so you don't overpack is a good tip.

    Hope this helps....
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.


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