Denali Backpacking

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Day1 Team photo at Eielson Visitor Center before heading out.

This 6-day backpacking expedition took place in the Denali National Park in Alaska. The team consisted of 4 hikers from three different countries; China, Spain and the U.S. In total the expedition traveled 60 miles and gained 5000 feet of elevation in one of the most remote mountain ranges in the world.

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Expedition Map (after we finished this expedition we know that the 1912 parker-browne expedition went on the same route (the opposite direction); attempted to summit Denali)

This trip started around 6:30 pm on August 2nd at Eielson Visitor Center, AK. The team hiked down the Glacier Creek in whiteout condition and continued hike with headlamp until 1 am. The next morning’s weather was surprisingly nice, we were able to enjoy the spectacular view of the Great One and the entire Alaska Mountain Range. As we traveled to upper glacier creek and turned into the valley towards Anderson Pass; the team experienced a thrilling hike in a landslide hazard zone. On the third day, we went up and over Anderson Pass and traveled the entire length of the West Fork Glacier, and eventually camped where the glacier ends and the river starts. As the team following the West Fork river heading toward the east to the beginning of Chulitna River, we spotted a Grizzle bear about 500 feet ahead of us. We planned to hike backward upstream the river and found a spot where we were able to cross the river and travel on the south side of the riverbank, however after five minutes of hiking back we spotted another grizzly bear about 100 feet in front of us. After a quick discussion, we all agreed that it was potentially the same bear and we decided to hike back to the original route towards the east. When reaching the fork at the beginning of the Chulitna River we hiked towards the northwest and turned east into the valley of Easy Pass. From there, the team traveled towards east to the beginning of the Bull River and followed the river downstream to the flat tundra out of the Denali Wilderness. On the last day, the team walked through beautiful floodplains and tundra country towards the east. After passing a few lakes we were able to discover an old ATV trail. As the team uncertainly following the endless curvy trail for miles, a loud train whistle broke through the quiet woods and led us out of the wildness at mile mark 196 on the George Parks High Way.

 

Significant obstacles included: white out navigation down Glacier Creek; route finding in the valley of Anderson Pass as well as the  floodplains by the Bull River; challenge River crossing at the lower part of Bull River.

 

Everyone worked incredibly well as a crew and kept each other laughing and learning, all while building a strong bond among the four of us in the wilderness.

 

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Day1, River crossing at Thorofare Gorge Creek

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Day2, morning view of Denali and the Alaska Range

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Day2 Upper Glacier Creek River Crossing

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Day2 The Red Mountain

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Day2 Near our turn into the valley towards Anderson Pass

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Day2 We can see Anderson Pass

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Day2 Camp right in front of Anderson Pass

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Day3 morning, Summiting Anderson Pass

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Day4, A grizzly bear is looking at us

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Day4 hiking on the river bank of West Fork, Anderson Pass in the background.

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Day4 The view from the side of a large hill that we need to climb, in order to get around the river. Anderson Pass in the far right background.

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Day5. Small River crossing before Easy Pass

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Day5. Caribou on top of Easy Pass

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Day5 Trying to find a campsite by Bull River

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Day5 Clouds came in late at night