10-Aug-2002 -- Although this confluence is listed as a secondary point for the project, we think the effort involved in getting to it, and as one of the nearest primary confluences is in Cook Inlet, should garner it primary status.
We (Doug, Jon, and Jessica) set out on the first attempt on Saturday August 3rd on an unusually beautiful and hot day. The entire week in fact had been uncharacteristically warm with temperatures reaching into the low 80’s. Our journey started at the base of Mount Alyeska under the Tramway at the Winner Creek Trailhead. We had previously hiked this trail and thought this confluence would be an easy afternoon's outing, being it was only 3.5 miles as the crow flies from the trailhead. We could not have been more wrong.
As we started up the trail we noticed an abundance of blueberries ripe for the picking. However, when we stopped to pick we discovered our nemesis of the trip, the dreaded biting fly. We could stop only long enough to get three or four berries before the flies began feasting on us. We decided picking on the fly, so to speak, was the only option. The baggies we brought along for a bounty were not to be used.
We left the main trail and crossed the newly added access bridge over Winner Creek into uncharted territory for the three of us. We were happily surprised as we ascended the mountain that the cat trail seemed to be leading us directly to the confluence. We passed through stands of Hemlock, alpine meadow and lots and lots of devils club and ferns making the most of the cut track.
Our critical mistake of the trip was trying to take the most direct route, albeit an impassible one. We became fixated on the directional arrow and ended up bushwhacking in 6 foot high vegetation up a 45 degree incline. We managed to cover a mere .2 miles in roughly 45 minutes. We were beat, hot, sweaty, and our turtle's pace had made easy work of our legs for the flies. We opted to turn back and try again another day. However, on our way down we spied the route for our next attempt.
Our second attempt was the following Saturday, a drizzly, overcast, slightly windy day. Jessica declined a second trip and was content to plan her garden instead. The ascent to our previous high was uneventful. We planned this approach above tree line to involve as little bushwhacking as possible.
With every stream fording our aversion to getting drenched decreased - good thing as it started to steadily pour. We reached the summit of the first mountain and had a jaw dropping moment. We saw our confluence point exactly 1 mile away across another valley which would require a circuitous route along craggy shale topped peaks, glacier, and more water.
Our continuing journey involved following a goat trail, a harrowing descent through snow fields and moss covered razor sharp scree. We made it to the valley floor and then started our final ascent to the confluence. On hands and very sore knees we scurried across a very steep slope covered with beautiful alpine flowers in full bloom. However the vegetation was not our friend as the pouring rain made it very slick and our trek all the more treacherous.
For every foot forward we slid two perilous feet downward. We came within approximately 100 meters of the point. Our GPS unit was having some issues as we were so close to the cliff and surrounded by mountains on all sides. As best we can figure the confluence lies on the mossy outcrop pictured. We opted not to risk slipping and falling to our deaths to get the zeros to line up, however, we’re fairly confident not many a person has ventured there. Upon returning home we calculated our round trip to be between 13 and 14 miles.