backpacking in Alaska?

Posted by: bobito9

backpacking in Alaska? - 03/31/11 08:47 PM

Hey y'all,
My girlfriend is going to be guiding dayhikes for the summer up in Denali State (not Nat'l) Park, so I'm planning to fly up to visit her. I'm sure it'll be fun there in her park, I plan to do some backpacking there, but I'm hoping to check out some other areas as well. One factor is that I'm not driving up, and I'd rather not rent a car, and I doubt I can borrow her car for more than a day or two (don't know the details on her gig yet).
So anyway, anyone have suggestions for their favorite trails, particular those accessible by bus? (and not the Chilkoot: I did it already, it was fun).
Posted by: oldranger

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/01/11 08:12 AM

My Alaska experience is quite limited (one summer) but after three weeks on Denali, I had some time to fill and did an overnight loop from the park road, using the bus system, surmounting something called Sunset Pass. That evenings camp was in one of the most insanely beautiful settings I have ever experienced. I'll bet there are plenty more just like it.
Posted by: cat

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/02/11 04:58 PM

We certainly have some of the world's best backpacking right in your gf's backyard, so to speak.

Some of my favorite backpacking is right in your gf's area. The Kesugi Ridge traverse in Denali State Park is beautiful, especially when The Mountain is out! You can borrow a bear canister for the state park rangers.

Denali Nat'l Park has world-class backpacking. I suggest Ike Waits' Denali Guide Book as a resource. I spend weeks on end every summer in DNP & never tire of the hiking & backpacking.

Not sure the deal with a pick up from DSP to DNP but check out the Park Connection bus which at least stops in Talkeetna:
Posted by: bobito9

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/03/11 11:56 PM

thanks for the replies, guys!
I guess it would make sense to just stay around Denali State Park area, with a foray to the Nat'l Park. There certainly is a lot of territory to see, and a lot of new stuff for me, and I don't like wasting my time schlepping all over the place. I have heard that views of the Mountain can be hard to come by for reasons of the weather, but I'd be up there for maybe 2 weeks, so I'm sure I'd see it at some point.
How's the route finding for a solo backpacker? And any tips on dealing with the permit issues in the NP? It seems like the State Park is easy to get permits for, and plenty big enough to keep me happy in any event.
thanks, steve
Posted by: cat

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/09/11 06:30 PM

We never had to get a permit for DSP.

For DNP there are tricks. You can do your first night in the tent only wilderness campground Igloo (only 7 sites, outhouse, purify water from creek, bear lockers) & that counts as your 1st day in the wilderness, so your second night out can possibly be one of the better units.

Get to the wilderness access center early in the day to plan your itinerary. They are very strict with quotas in specific units.

This interactive map will familiarize you with the park units & their descriptions:

I like units 6 (Cathedral Mt) , 9 East branch of Tolklat, 10 West branch of Tolkat, 11 Stony Dome & 13 Mt Eielson

I really like the high tundra & river bar travel rather than willows!
Posted by: bobito9

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/09/11 11:40 PM

Thanks for the tips! I'm really looking forward to seeing those delicate, hardy little tundra plants. Bush-whacking through willows sounds like a real pain.
What is the advantage to using the tent only wilderness campground? How would that help you get your second night in a better unit?
Posted by: cat

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/10/11 04:41 PM

You can't reserve units ahead of time- it's on a walk-in basis at the wilderness access center the day before your first night in the backcountry.

Each unit has a quota (only 2 people, 4 people, 6 people etc) depending on the size of the unit.

So one's first night out is usually in one of the less desireable units since the choice units are usually already taken.

But you can use Igloo as your first night & then have a better chance to get a choice unit your second, third, 4th night.

If you go in by yourself as I do, you have a much better chance getting your top choices. A group of 2 is next best of course.
Posted by: bobito9

Re: backpacking in Alaska? - 04/13/11 11:03 PM

Thank you, that clarifies the process for me quite a bit. Mare has a friend who works for DNP, and her boss use to be a ranger there, so I'm hoping she can figure out how to use the permit process most effectively. It's interesting how different parks and wilderness areas have different systems, and different ways to go about getting permits.