Whoa--Its hard to believe summer is rapidly coming to an end. Fortunately Dan, Trevor, Brian, Josie, and Sky were all up for a little foray in the wilderness to Kanuti Hot Springs at the last minute with very little planning or preparation.
Over the past few years I have really wanted to venture out to Kanuti Hot Springs--But I had always planned on skiing out in the spring-time. I have been intrigued by Kanuti for a few reasons: 1) the remoteness of the springs but reasonable access from the road system, 2) the lack of trail or any development, and 3) the fact that several groups of friends have failed to make it and ended up retreating back to the road.
Vertical profile of our 26 mile trip to Kanuti Hot Springs. Yes this is vertically exaggerated. The climb up Caribou Mountain was about 2500 feet.
We drove up Friday evening and camped next to a snowfence adjacent to the Kanuti River. Dan and Brian contemplate getting out of their warm bags because the temperature dropped into the upper 20's overnight.
Dan and I floated in Alpacka packrafts. These boats are awesome! I cant rave about them enough. They weigh a mere 4 lbs, fit easily into a backpack, and can slam into and slide over rocks without much more than a faint scratch.
Sky chases Dan down the river. She swam and ran the entire way.
Brian and Trevor had to drag their boat A LOT.. This river was quite low and bony with lots of rocks. The packrafts were far superior and have minimal draft so Dan and I were able to ride through most stretches.
We had to pick our route through lots of rock gardens and had very little time to kickback and chill out.
The hot springs was choked with a carpet of green slime. The water was also too hot (one source said 150 degrees) to use our hands to scoop it out. So we had to use sticks when we first got there to skim the sheets of algae from the water.
A small rock dam holds back the warm water. Just to the right of the dam a trickle of cold water comes out of a thicket of alders. We had to do some engineering to divert this cold water into the dammed up hot water. After about an hour the pond had cooled down enough for us to get in and scoop out the slime.
Ewwwww...green slime globs! We couldn't get all the little pieces out so some of it coated our bodies. There was a nice cold creek about 100 feet away where we could splash around and wash most of the slime off.
This spot was pretty magical. The springs are in a meadow of wild chives and mint and had this incredible aroma. The ground was also heated and inside our tent it was warm and smelled like minty breathe freshener.
Here is my Alpacka boat all rolled up. It fit nicely into my pack.
Dan and I with all of our gear. So in my pack I have the boat, paddles, life jacket, sleeping bag and pad, stove, pot, fuel, 3 liters of water, food, clothes, and still plenty of room to carry a tent if needed. The whole package weighed about 30 lbs.
The bears were plentiful too. Its hard to see but this sow and 2 cubs were right in our path. They bolted when we yelled at them. Dan and I had run into a sow and 2 cubs the day before during our float...I suppose this could be the same family.