09-Jun-2001 -- This weekend I wanted to visit two points in Interior Alaska. My sister and her family wanted to get out in the wilds for the weekend so we decided to take their motorhome and head north. First, though, I had to take my fiancee to the airport so she could fly to North Dakota and put the final touches on our upcoming nuptials, scheduled for June 22nd in Hazelton, N.D. I saw Monique off at the gate and was back in Palmer ready to roll at 11am on Saturday the 9th. We loaded the kids, Shantelle & Jack, and the dog, Butch, into the rig and headed northeast on the Glenn Highway. At Glennallen (147 miles) we turned north on the Richardson Highway and traveled another 71 miles to Paxson. This confluence point is about 4 miles south of the Denali Highway near the Tangle Lakes. The highway runs from Paxson in the east to Cantwell in the west and connects the Richardson Highway to the Parks Highway. From 1957, when it was built, until 1972 when the Parks was built this was the only automobile route to Denali (Mt. McKinley) National Park. The road is paved for the first 20 miles to Tangle Lakes Recreation Area and then gravel from there to the junction with the Parks. At Tangle Lakes I started my hike and my cohorts set up camp for the night. I took a picture of the Perdues on the moraine above Tangle Creek and then Butch and I headed off over the moraines and gullies in the general direction of the point. It immediately started raining hard at an angle and nearly hail but this ended after about 5 minutes and the weather for the rest of the hike was mostly sunny and warm. We had to veer to the east and far uphill to get around a marshy lowland area indicated on the map. In this country the brush is too thick to want to walk thru but thins out with elevation gained. For the most part the walk was thru alpine tundra which is relatively soft underfoot but causes you to need to lift your feet higher than you normally would while hiking. This combined with the elevation gain necessary would result in my becoming quite exhausted by the time I got back to the vehicle. About midway along on the hike I spotted a moose trotting ahead of us on the ridge. It was heading straight in the direction my GPS indicated the point would be.
Other than the time and walking strength involved this point was easy to find and ended up being on the edge of a snow bank above a small pond. To the northwest you can see the MacLaren and Eureka glaciers coming down out of the Alaska Range. On my return trip to the highway I decided to go up on the mountain even further than I had on the way out. I was attempting to find more solid ground and to see if I could go straight off the mountain and down the ridge to the road, avoiding some of the brushy up and down the first mile of the trip in had contained. As is often the case I would have been better off had I followed the route back that I came in on. The ridge I was following petered out into marshland and trees so I had to veer back to the west and go out the way I cam in. This added a mile or so to the walk. With the nearly endless daylight at this latitude in mid-summer I had plenty of time to make it back to the vehicle and the sun was setting over the Alaska Range just as I was reaching the road at 11pm. The next day I briefly scouted the area around N63W147 but was still too tired and sore from my last hike to give it a try. It’ll have to wait for another day, likely in the late fall, just before snowfall since this area is heavily hunted in August for moose and caribou. From Tangle Lakes we drove the nearly 120 miles of remaining gravel on the Denali Highway to Cantwell and there turned south on the Parks Highway for the 170 mile return trip to the Palmer area and home. We had a great view of Mt. McKinley from near the western end of the Denali Highway.