Monday, June 8, 2009

Coffee and Pizza Traverse

Descending into the upper Nenana River drainage in the Alaska Range

All I could focus on the last two hours of our float was shoving a giant piece of greasy pizza into my mouth. The pleasurable sensation of the melted cheese against my tongue and anticipation of the calories replenishing my body. Fortunately for me our weekend traverse in the Alaska Range would terminate at the same location we started at the day before - but this time there would be unlimited pizza fresh out of the oven waiting to be devoured.

This most recent packrafting trip was aptly named the coffee-pizza traverse because it began and ended at the java shop and pizza joint which straddle the banks of Carlo Creek on the Parks Hwy. The entire loop consisted of about 15-miles of scenic alpine hiking followed by 16-miles floating the upper Nenana River.

A conveniently placed 4-wheeler path exists from the Parks Hwy up through the brush to treeline and resulted in a bushwhack-free stroll to the tundra.

Ben admires the newly melted snow as it cascades through a narrow gully.

The walking was nearly effortless across a green blanket of tundra and through fields of wildflowers.

Breaking a thin layer of ice on a small pond at our camping site near the headwaters of Carlo Creek.

Large snowfields still linger below the pass at the head of the Carlo Creek. The snow was firm enough to walk across with ease.

Ben begins the steep and rocky descent on the south side of the pass. This section required some serious scrambling over small ledges and over giant boulders. We would eventually drop into the far distant valley and plop ourselves into the cold, silty waters of the Nenana River.

Curious caribou circle around us.

The girls cross a beautiful alpine stream.

Making our way across a wide open expanse of tundra above the Nenana River.

Preparing to launch the boats. The final push down to the river was a steep descent through a brief stretch of moderately thick brush.

The Nenana River upstream of the Parks Hwy bridge is a casual Class I float. The river picks up a bit below the bridge with a few short Class II+ sections that are relatively easy to portage.

10 PM and back at the starting pt...fresh pizza...beer...live music...THE END.

6 comments:

Cheryl said...

Hey Eddie, That looks like the perfect trip! Tundra, flowers, pizza. Oh yea.

yeske said...

Great photos Ed!

Dan said...

Looks like a fun trip!

Ed Plumb said...

I hear that this route has some boulder fields to negotiate near the pass. We did this in early June when there were still extensive areas of snow covering up all the rocks. So it sounds like this trip is better earlier in the summer. Good luck!

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northforkriver said...

How long did the float take? Did you do the traverse in 1 day or 2?