07-Jul-2016 -- This is the second out of 11 reports on confluence visits in Canada’s Yukon Territory and Alaska. The story starts from 61°N 137°W.
Following the Alaska Highway, we entered Alaska near the town Tok. On confluence day, we drove an hour on the Tok-Cut-Off Highway from Tok to reach the Indian village Mentasta (13 km beeline to the CP). From the village, a so-called winter-road leads further towards the confluence point. In summer however, the surface melting of the permafrost ground turns these roads into unpassable mud-tracks. Nevertheless we attempted to drive a bit closer. The first mud wholes were easily passed, but at a remaining distance of 10 km we got stuck in an unexpectedly deep mud hole. Getting help would have been difficult in this remote area. Attempts to get out of the hole would just bring the vehicle deeper in the mud. But in a last final attempt, we got the car through. We were released, but had to keep in mind that we would have to get through there again on our way back. But since the car was freed, we decided to move on until the next water hole would stop us. This was the case at a distance of 5 km. Here, we parked the car, packed our backpacks and started the hike.
As we saw very fresh bear footprints, Elionora decided to turn back and stay with the car. I continued alone, following the track as far as possible, thereby crossing several streams. At 2.5 km, it was time to leave the track and head cross-country towards the confluence point. At the beginning, I hiked through spruce forest with a mossy soft ground. With gaining height, the trees got smaller, but therefore the thickets slowed me down. Due to the rain I got totally wet. I started worrying about the road conditions when the rain would add more water on the track. But luckily, the rain ceased and I continued with confidence.
After a long, strenuous bush-fighting upwards, I finally reached the zone of grasslands. From here, the view down to the valley was amazing. In order to reach the confluence, I had to climb a steep mountain and descend on the other side again. A sea of rocks slowed me down, but I was able to get to the confluence, which is located on a steep eastern grade. It is extremely steep, but not dangerously steep. To the east, there is a great view into the Lost Creek Valley.
I risked to take another route back, going down into the Lost Creek Valley and following the creek. This way I saved the climb upwards, but therefore had to fight with dense vegetation along the creek. I rather stumbled down than walked down. Due to the dense shrubs, I hardly touched the ground, climbing inside the jungle canopy. At the end it turned out that this route was not better, but at least makeable. After 3.5 hours I reached our car again, where Elionora was already a bit worried about my long absence.
When we reached the big water hole again, we first examined the situation on foot. Thereby we found a very rough track through the forest that circumvented the obstacle. However, it was so rough, that the car disassembled a bit when we lost parts of the bumpers. But we made it through and continued happily towards Glennallen. It was already midnight when we reached a private campground near Gakona.
I just noticed that this is the first visit to a new confluence in the USA since William’s boat trip in Hawaii four years ago. This is really poor progress, I would say.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to a road: 13 km
- Distance to a track: 2500 m
- Distance of car parking: 5000 m
- Time to reach the CP from car parking: 2 hours
- Time at the CP: 5:11 PM
- Measured height: 1326 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
- Position accuracy: 3 m
- Topography: steep slope, mountainous
- Vegetation: grass, flowers, moss, lichen
- Weather: partly cloudy, 12° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Mud Whole Confluence
The story continues at 61°N 146°W.