Stream Crossings on the Resurrection River Trail
I'm planning a Kenai traverse backpack for July and would like anyone who has hiked the Resurrection River Trail to give me any information or advice about the nature of this trail. I Talked to the USFS office in Seward who advised against using this trail by describing the stream crossings as "large, fast moving and dangerous." The guidebooks I've read don't put in such dire terms. The group I will be leading have backpacked for a number of years in the lower 48 and crossed streams and dealt with bears. So we're not newbies to backcountry challenges.
I'm currently researching the same trip. I will be starting on the russian lakes trail and luxuriously staying in the Barber, Aspen Flats, and Upper Russian Lake forest service cabins along the way. I just got those booked for next June.
Then taking the cutoff down Resurrection River to Seward. I spoke with a Chugach Forest person that says the trail has bridges out with no plans to replace them, its unmaintained so i expect lots of fallen trees and the usual. So I'm thinking about taking my packraft with me and walking till the river looks floatable and then floating out from there. However, I have not been able to find any float reports for the upper Resurrection River...checked it out on google earth and it didn't appear to bad so really I'm not concerned. I'll do a float report next summer if I survive. haha.
Also I can't find any reports on the Resurrection River trail either, so unsure about that one. If I could trust I could ford the creeks where the washed out bridges are I would be tempted to leave the packraft home. The forest service person said the same to me about deep potentially dangerous water crossings like 5 feet or so...but you never know if they are trying to discourage someone by exaggerating just a bit since they are unsure of your abilities and just playing the safe side.
Sooo....I guess if I do not hear of a reliable trail report by someone that has done Resurrection River in 2010 the only option is the packraft goes in the backpack.
okay i got lucky and found one boots on the ground report from 4 years ago.
SPECIAL SECTION ON SOUTHERN SECTION (RUSSIAN LAKES TO EXIT GLACIER)
SUBMITTED BY SCOTT I. (July 25, 2006)
I hiked the southern half of Resurrection Pass this past weekend and wanted to share my experience. It seemed that no one had offered up much information concerning this portion of the trail, and the latest info sounded like hearsay, so here it is first hand.
Our hike began at Cooper Landing and we went all the way thru to Exit Glacier. The first 10 to 12 miles of the trail, to the Upper Russian Lake Cabin was quite easy with several good views of the lakes, the surrounding mountains and Skilak Glacier. Around the cabin at Upper Russian Lake the trail deteriorated a little. Mostly overgrown weeds and brush that covered the trail and if there was any precipitation, the wet grass soaked you to the bone. We arrived at the fork in the trail, approximately mile 16 from Cooper Landing, where the Cooper Lake trail meets the Russian Lake trail and were thrown off a little. There is a sign at the intersection that warns you of the Resurrection Trail conditions and is very accurate. As if to drive home the point, the sign was chewed up by bear and parts were hard to read. The sign points directly towards the trail, but we did not recognize it at first. It did not look like a trail at all. What was the trail, looked to us like some knocked down weeds where a moose or bear had come thru the brush to get onto the trail. After following the Cooper Lake Trail for a short period of time we realized that the "moose trail" was the Resurrection River Trail and we were going the wrong way. The brush was terribly overgrown and you literally had to feel for the trail with your feet as you pushed your way thru the weeds and grass. The trail was like this for the next 12 to 13 miles. There is no sign of a bridge at Summit Creek which you have to cross twice. There are downed trees that help a little, but you will get wet feet for sure. After the first crossing at Summit Creek the trail is very hard to keep track of. There is some orange tape tied to a few trees to help guide you, but you have to scout around for them after you cross. The second crossing (about 1000 yards from the first) has a fallen tree about 30 yards down stream from where the trail dumps you onto the river bank. This tree helped make the second crossing easier than the first.
From here it was a long hall from Summit Creek to Boulder Creek and you are bushwhacking pretty much the whole way. There are no places to camp along this section of the trail. Our pace went from about 3 miles an hour to about 1 mile/hr thru this section of the trail. I would expect your pace to be half or less than what you did during the first 12 miles from Cooper Landing to the fork in the trail. Boulder Creek seemed to be the hardest creek to ford for us, but it is doable. It is similar to the Eagle River crossing on the Crow Pass Trail. The Resurrection River Cabin is about an hours walk from the Boulder Creek crossing. Beware; there is one fork in the trail that threw us off. Stay to the left when proceeding from Cooper Landing. We thought it might have been a side trail that took us to the cabin, but it was not. It just took you down to the river and ended. There are some places to camp on the river bed in this area if you cannot stay in the cabin. There was a trail marker sign at the fork, but it is lying on the ground and is a bit unclear. There are 2 or 3 trail marking signs along the way that are laying in the dirt and weeds indicating that the trail is closed, etc. None were of much help to us.
The Resurrection River cabin is quite nice and it seemed like the Ritz to us after hiking thru the rain and brush for the past 15 miles. It does not seem to get used much. The sign in book goes all the way back to 7/2001 and the last person to be in the cabin before us was June 30, so the cabin had been empty for about 3 weeks. (Assuming who ever stayed in it would have signed in) The trail from the cabin to Martin Creek was overgrown and just as bad as the trail between the fork and the cabin. We had expected it to be worn a bit more, but it was continuous bushwhacking thru 8' devils club and feeling your way along the trail with your feet. We traveled the 1.5 - 2 miles from the cabin to Martin Creek in about 1.5 to 2 hours. It was slow going. When we arrived at the bridge, it was out as we expected.
Anyway, it was quite and adventure, but I will never do it again. The trail was overgrown, we were under canopy for most of the way, there were no views at all from Upper Russian Lake to Exit Glacier, and the bushwhacking was endless. There were very few rewards for the all the hard work.
After a lot of research and deliberation in my noggin i've decided to float resurrection river. I really wanted to hike it but it appears the hike is uneventful as reported above but the good news is i have located a historical cabin on placer creek built circa 1940's still standing so i'll crash in there for the fourth night. Then overnight at the Chugach National Forest Resurrection River Cabin between Boulder and Martin Creeks on the fifth night if its empty. I see the river in 3 sections. Upper resurrection river is a narrow shallow channel and looks somewhat clogged with trees from looking at it from google earth but I'll pull out around them the best I can. Mid-section river looks braided as can be but clear of obstructions. The final run should be no problem, i think. Anyway, looking forward to it !
Let us know how it goes. I've been thinking of doing a trip from Hope to Seward using my packraft and I'm intrested in rafting the creek.
Good decision ! There's nothing worth packrafting from Resurrection Pass down to Cooper Landing on that end of the slope so I think its best to hike that section and leave the packraft by the highway. Now hiking up Resurrection Pass trail about 7 miles and floating back out Resurrection Creek to Hope looked interesting.
Hey if you time your trip where you arrive at Upper Russian Lake on June 22 I have the cabin rented so plan on staying there with me and from there we can do the upper part of the Resurrection River together. Just to be clear for anyone reading this, Resurrection Creek is the drainage on the Hope side, Resurrection River is the drainage on the Seward side. But I plan on spending a couple days on mid section Resurrection River looking around so I'll be going slow from Placer Creek on out. Thats where the history lies and that is my thing. I plan on hiking up Placer Creek and getting some photos of what is called Lowell Glacier today.
Okay I found someone thats floated the Resurrection River with a packraft and they replied to an email of mine today. Here's an excerpt:
Originally Posted by Russp17
"Sorry for the late reply, but thank you very much for checking out my post. We did exactly what you are planning and ended up hiking about 17 miles total before putting into the river. We did have to bushwack a ways downriver to get to where it was open enough to not get stuck in a strainer. We did the hike and paddle to the Seward Hwy. in one day but could have easily broken it into two."
I'll be going a lot slower than them as I like to go down faint and historic side trails off the main trail along the way, but its been floated with no reported problems.
Originally Posted by tustumena_lake
Thanks for the invite. I will let you know of my schedule. Have u spent much time on the upper russian? The fishing is fun and the bear watching is very nice. I will check my calendar if that fits. Thanks again for the invite!
I've been to the lower Russian lake but this will be my first time at the upper Russian lake. I'm looking forward to it. I've spent most of my life on the western side of the Peninsula at Tustumena Lake and Caribou Hills with just some in the Chugach but I'm widening my horizons. The Chugach National Forest is a wonderful place. The Russian River and lake system have a lot of history to them and I want to explore some of that.
The prehistory of Russian River, the drainage of the lakes is incrdedible when you think about Anchorage being born in 1915.
"The Russian River settlement is where our Dena'ina ancestors gathered for the winters after a season of fishing, hunting and gathering along Kahtnu, the Kenai River. The site is located on the south shore of the river, and is comprised of Eskimo and Indian house pits, storage caches and fire-cracked rock middens used by inhabitants thousands of years ago. The area is historically unique due to the two distinct cultures represented at the site as well as the intensity of the prehistoric occupation.
Two separate cultures, the Riverine Kachemak and the Dena'ina Athabascan, made their winter camps in this area. The Kachemak people were hunters and fishermen who originated from Kodiak Island, the Alaska Peninsula and Kachemak Bay. They were a coastally adapted people who began to harvest the Kenai Peninsula’s rich subsistence environment between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago. Dena'ina Athabascans—originally interior Alaskan big game hunters—occupied the Peninsula around 1,000 AD and also adopted an economy that was based around the riverine environment."
the Russian history
"Cook Inlet and adjacent regions attracted early prospectors because Russian discoveries of gold there were known. In 1849 Peter Doroshin, a graduate of the Imperial Mining School at St. Petersburg, was dispatched to the colony to investigate Kenai River gold reported by a trader in 1834. Over a four-year period, Doroshin searched for minerals without finding appreciable gold. He followed the Kenai River to its sources and prospected the Russian River, where his crew mined for two seasons to gain a couple ounces of gold. Other kinds of mineral development appeared more promising."
"Another guide, who joined the ranks during the 1920s, was Luke Elwell. The Seward-bred guide lived in town for more than a decade; then, in 1939, he and his wife Mamie built a lodge at Upper Russian Lake and operated it for the next twenty years."
and now today a trail for all of us.