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Thread: Alaska 1st trip advice.

  1. #1
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    Question Alaska 1st trip advice.

    Alaska- 1st trip advice.

    My buddy 2pbr (second place in a bear race) and I are heading to Alaska mid June 2011. We are planning to backpack and camp as remote as possible but within one of the parks. We are flying into Anchorage. We will need public transportation. We have approx. 8 days for the bush. We have looked at Denahli and Wrangell-St.-Elias.

    here are our criteria/priorities:

    1. Remote Back pack and camp.
    2. The closer to Anchorage the better or could fly into Fairbanks but more expensive.
    3. public park or preserve. (unless you have another suggestion)
    4. Has to be public transportation accessible. (bus basically) Willing to cover distances to reach remote location.
    5. No Trails needed
    6. Fishing would be a plus but not a deal breaker. (Denali fishing is no good I hear)
    7. Wildlife abundant
    8. Great vista and geological beauty is a definite plus.
    9. Be cool if I could use my Skookum Stealth Hammock so trees would be good (but maybe unrealistic.)
    10. Be nice if it was diverse and not all one type of environment like all tundra, etc.
    11. Morel mushroom burn area would be a plus but not crucial at all.

    I know it's asking a lot, but any suggestions, comments, advice would be a huge help.

    If it were you, where would you go and why>?

    Thanks a ton!

    -Sk00kum


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    continued from last post....

    12. old mining town, cabins, waterfalls, caves or some other things to explore a plus.

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    If you're not able to rent a car or take a bush flight somewhere off the road system, I'd highly recommend sticking to Chugach State Park (right behind Anchorage), Hatcher Pass (north of Palmer), and the Kenai Peninsula. The state's full of great parklands, but I've found that visitors usually get the most out of the easier-to-reach areas, because transport to more remote areas is time consuming, stressful, and expensive. For a somewhat random suggestion, you could try hiking from the Hatcher Pass Road (60 miles north of Anchorage - public transport to Palmer, taxi or hitch 20 miles into the mountains). Take a look at a map, then generally hike north or east. There are trails and tourists to start with, but that ends real quick and you're left with endless miles of tundra, lots of rock spires, forest in the valleys, small glaciers in north facing cirques, etc, etc.

    Recommended guidebooks:

    Best all encompasing guide - http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Alaska-...6604228&sr=8-1

    Best guide to the immediate Anchorage area (check this out - you'll be amazed what's available 10 miles from the nearest Walmart...) - http://www.amazon.com/Hikes-Alaskas-...6604378&sr=1-1


    If you're dead set on something further from the city, here's a great guide for Wrangell St. Elias (including access info) - http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Alaskas...6604495&sr=1-1

    I'll warn you that the trail-less tundra, heavy handed management, and fickle weather have disappointed a lot of Denali visitors, but there's great country there if you know what you're getting into - http://www.amazon.com/Denali-Nationa...6604607&sr=1-1

    If you hit a stretch of nasty weather, consider heading to the interior. Not as jaw-droppingly spectacular as the coast, but vast, wild, and with considerably better summer weather - http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Interi...6604697&sr=1-1

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    Excellent information Heathen. I really appreciate your valuable time.


    I should mention that this thread is a bit redundant as my hiking partner Jason aka 2pbr aka Mrjzn here on the forums started a similiar post. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...gell-St.-Elias

    It's not that we can't take a bush plane or rent a car. We are just trying to avoid the additional cost if possible. A simple rental car will add $600 + gas to our trip and most rental places don't allow you to take your vehicle off of pavement (that's second hand info, but what I was told.)

    We originally decided on Denali and haven't crossed it off the list just yet, but the "trail-less tundra, heavy handed management, and fickle weather" have us looking at other options.

    We have been looking at: Anchorage, bus to Wrangell St. Elias McCarthy area and set off from there. We read that the park offers some remote refurbished cabins and considered hiking out to one of those and using it as a base camp.

    Any and all comments are very much appreciated.

    -Sk00kum

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    Hey SkOOkum, I'm basically in the same boat as you but I'll be going in alone towards the end of Sept when the tourist season has died down. I'm been leaning towards Chugach state park ( I think they close sept 15th ) as I think it has close to everything your looking for . Trout fishing, low/highlands , bears, moose, wolves haha its all there .

    From what I understand I can start at a trail head and go several miles in off the trail set up camp and enjoy for a few days . Although I'll be renting a car and leaving it at the trail head a few days, its so close to Anchorage I don't think you would have a problem getting there but make arrangements to get out .

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    Sounds like you guys are leaning towards McCarthy / Wrangell St. Elias. A couple great trips can be done from the road (without a bush flight). One starts on a trail up Nugget Creek, from which you can explore the high country around Kuskulana Glacier. Another starts from Kennicott, crosses the Root and Kennicott Glacicers to Hidden Lake and then up the valley and pass beyond the lake. Technical climbing gear isn't needed for those snow free lower glaciers, but some sort of traction is a good idea.

    On the other hand, you might be surprised how reasonably priced flights out of McCarthy are, since they tend to be short, and there's competition in town. Check out Wrangell Mountain Air's trip planner: http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/trips/backpacking/

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    Interesting thread...

    Lots of good hiking in the Chugach mountains or down on the Kenai Pennensula without a lot of hassle and expense. A few years ago somebody was trying to organize a hut to hut system down there. I moved into the Interior so I haven't heard of progress but its worth a look around. You'll have a hard time not finding public land up here so don't confine yourself to a park.
    Good hiking in Talkeetna, Hatcher's Pass and Girdwood- all within spitting distance of Anchorage.

    Some other ideas would be the White Mountains Wilderness area accessed via Fairbanks- good trail system and several cabins to stay in. Check with BLM.
    If you're into bushwacking the Macomb Plateau between Delta and Tok is good.

    Some good areas near Fairbanks as well.

    Don't overlook a float trip either. Several town to town floats are possible and river corridors tend to be better developed than our trail systems.

    I hear you guys talking about taking buses... not much public transport here so I'd certainly confirm any bus you might want to take.

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