Sunday, August 31, 2008

Windy River Valley Revisited

Earlier this summer Ry and I tried to go down the Windy River valley up and over a pass and down to the Sanctuary River....long story short, we took every possible wrong turn made a 5 hr hike into a 15 hr hike and ended up looking down the wrong pass without a compass or GPS....we turned around. Since then I have wanted to go back and figure out where we went wrong.

Kellie and I fortunately had coinciding days off. I picked her up from the airport and we headed up to Cantwell. We camped off the Denali highway, slept 12 hours and started our hike in the drizzly rain the next day.

Kellie Heading Uphill from the River


We easily found the pass, and instead of going to the low point, we went up to the high point and got an awesome view of the valley below.

Kellie Heading up to the Pass


We made it up and over the pass in good time. Kellie was itching to fill the day and wanted to go up a peak....As the rain was coming up the valley I have to say I wasn't as motivated, but was happy in the end that we went. The views up there are beautiful.

Kellie Enjoying the Morning


The next morning we only had a short float ahead of us, so we tried to go up another peak....the ridge got a little hairball and we bailed after 1,500 ft....Wich was ok since I was so excited to check out the river!!

It was about a 18 mile float, give or take. The Sanctuary river is fed by multiple small creeks that dump into the Refuge Valley. By the time they all meet up into a main channel, it was knee to thigh deep in most places. At times the river braided out and would be less than 6 inches deep, I only had to get out of the boat once, and was able to butt scoot the rest.

Getting Ready to Float!

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The Sanctuary river flows directly under the Denali park road, which is very convenient. We pulled out of the river, walked ten feet and were standing on the road. From there we picked up a park bus, which felt like an Alaskan Safari, because it stopped 3 times in 20 miles to watch wild life....very cool!

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