Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Takin' the Dunbar Trail

The Dunbar Trail winds through bogs and scrawny stands of black spruce

Brian and I skied into Tolovana Hot Springs over the weekend the back way via the Dunbar Trail. The Dunbar is an old sled trail which shoots straight north of Nenana for about 100 miles to the old mining town of Livengood. Portions of the trail are now primarily used by folks running traplines in the area and it is not necessarily maintained. There were several questionable stretches which required some route finding as the trail spilled out into the expanse of large lakes and resulted searching the scrubby perimeter for an exit on the opposite shore. But 13 hours after beginning our traverse we were welcomed at the springs by some friends that skied in on the 11-mile trail from the Elliot Hwy.

Our 46 mile ski began at the summit of Murphy Dome and followed a snowmachine packed road down the west side of the dome. We intersected the Dunbar Trail where the Chatanika River pours into the Minto Flats. From there we traveled north until we reached a connector trail leading about 7 miles west to the springs.

The following week I revisited the area from the air. We landed on a lake just below the ridge leading up to the springs.