Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alaska Journey #6: July 26th, 2008 9:30 PM

Stopped by the Lake Clark National Park Office (July 25).

Yesterday was very difficult!

Peter and I spent most of the day sorting food and gear and waiting on our extra stuff to arrive from Anchorage. Then Nate boated us and our personal and shared gear to the north shore of the Lake to begin our trek.

We had intentions to hike to Lake Kijik, drop half the stuff and make a second trip. So we packed very heavy the first trip in so we could get all the shared gear in 2 trips. Our expectation was to do that all in the first day or at least the first 2 days.

It's a day and a half later and we haven't made it to the Lake! We started out following a slew that came off the river thinking we would wind up back at the river shortly. After one and a half hours walking we realized we were heading the wrong direction. We tried to lateral to the river and ended up waist deep crossing at a couple of beaver ponds. When we finally arrived at the river we were about 300 yards from where we started at the mouth of the Kijik river to Lake Clark!

Peter had already climbed a tree to hoist extra food/gear into a tree to keep it from animals. Two hours and a half longer and we found ourselves at a gorgeous lookoff rock over a twist in the river. It was a long trip and much of it wading the river against the current. We decide that the group would camp there the first night. It also became apparent that our initial plan to hike the ridge the other side of Kijik lake would change due to the terrain and thickness of the brush. These issues made the distance to the ridge unrealistic.

We left the rock and everything imploded on us. The terrain was steep! The brush was super thick! My whole focus shifted quickly to putting one foot in front of the other and to make it worse, we were now side-stepping the mountain. EVERY step was HARD work. My ankles began to get weak and every step made them hurt worse.

Next came Peters cramps. He was carrying about 65-70 pounds and his back and legs gave out under the side-stepping and bush-whacking. We had not drank enough and were both dehydrated.

Peter decided to cross the river, which I thought was a bad idea, so I stayed behind to watch. After stripping down to not a stitch of clothing, hoisting his pack to his shoulder and taking the first painful steps into the 40+ degree water he didn't make it. The thought was that the other side of the river held much more manageable terrain. However, the river was just too deep to cross there. About a third of the way across, the current got the best of him. With feet bouncing off the rocks on the bottom of the river, Peter made it back to shore.

We pulled out our sleeping bags, ate our only pack of Mountain House we brought, expecting to get food when we returned to the lakeshore, and set up a makeshift camp for the night. This consisted of sleeping bags on the bare ground. Peter realized that his bivy was at the lake, so he wrapped up in a tarp and struggled with moisture and condensation all night long.

The weather was beautiful and the bugs were horrific! I lost one of my crocks, which would prove to be a huge loss in the days following! I also lost my backpack cover sometime throughout the day. I was afraid of what lie ahead! I felt a little better when Peter assured me that by any standards, that was a tough day.

This morning we woke up to beautiful weather! Believe it or not, I slept pretty good last night. We packed up to head for the lake. Peter had a really sore back. We hiked an hour or so and decided we needed to recover from yesterday, so we set up camp at a beautiful camp site next to a promising fishing hole.

It was cool today. Lots of our clothes were wet. Since I lost my crocks, all I had to wear was wet boots and waders.

Today I learned to fly fish!! It was a blast. I caught 4 grayling. Since we hadn't brought along much freeze dried food, we ate a lot of fish today! I got some great pictures of a bald eagle that was perched for the night just a hundred yards from our camp.

We'll hike back out via another route in the morning and pick the other guys up around 3:00 PM. I hope we make it! We'll leave most of our gear here as this will be our 2nd nights campsite with the others. Peters back is pretty bad. I'm doing pretty good so far. Just very tired and sad to be away from family. I opened my card from Julie tonight. I miss her!

Today I learned to fly fish!!

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