Wrangell St. Elias National Park - Nabesna District
After two previous trips to this park - the largest in the country, in 2006 and 2011, I wanted to visit this area in the more northern part of the park. The Nabesna Road leaves the highway and is paved for 14 miles. I rented a cabin with Wrangell Mountain Wilderness Cabins, about 28 miles in on the road, and spent 5 nights there. It rained almost every day, but usually late in the day or overnight. But that still caused damage to the road and caused creeks to be overflowing, making some areas inaccessible. As it was June and just weeks before the solstice, it never really got dark. Official sunset was after 11pm and sunrise was before 3am, but it was just dusky in between. Temps were above average getting to the upper 60s every day.
Lake Spenard in Anchorage, a block from my hotel, is also a big floatplane location, and shows the impressive Chugach Mountains State Park east of town.
The nearly 300 mile drive from Anchorage is very scenic. Here are more of the Chugach Mountains
The Matanuska River with more Chugach Mtns
The park is split between preserve, where sport hunting is allowed, and park, where only subsistance hunting is allowed
There are many lakes amongst the boreal forest
After barely getting through a nasty mud puddle at mile 17, I make it to my cabin
Twin Lakes is near the cabin
The next day, the start of the Caribou Creek hike, which is an ATV trail also
There were two crossings of Caribou Creek, both of which I managed to rock hop (though not right here)
3+ miles in you get to the Caribou Creek cabin, managed by the NPS. The cabin can be reserved from the park and use of it is free.
Beyond the cabin, game trails, reibforced by hikers, lead further uphill
View of the Wrangell Mtns from my highest point. The white in the lower right is the roof of the cabin.
Back at my cabin, dramatic clouds were a common sight.
Mt. Sanford (16,237') across Twin Lakes
The next day I wanted to do a hike farther up the road. This is where Trail creek crosses the road, note more water in the upper left part of the photo. The road surface was pebbly and solid and I drove across this, as well as Lost Creek, a couple miles further.
Both Trail and Lost Creeks had been maintained by the DOT, but Boyden Creek here had not been. While not as much water and not as wide, it was a much deeper rut with larger rocks. I don't think my rented Subaru would have gotten across this even if it was dry. Had to turn around and go back.
Instead I hiked up the Lost Creek trail a bit. This kind of gravel creekside hiking is standard in Alaska. But there are many wet water crossings and I only went a couple miles. Clouds were gahering.
A cabin/home next to Twin Lakes
Typical Alaska Boreal forest (due to permafrost not too far down) with the Wrangell's in the distance
The drowning Tanada Lake Trail is listed as suitable only for ATVs, but I talked to a local who said they can't manage this deep water either and get stuck a lot.
I think this may be the western end of the St Elias Mountains. If so, the pointed peak is Mt. Bona (16,421') with Mt. Churchill immediately to it's left, 15,638'.
Permafrost in this region (where the high temps are well below zero all winter) means almost everything is boggy. This is the unfinished road to Little Jack Lake. I wore my sandals.
Little Jack Lake
During the drive out, Mt. Sanford again, 16,237'
I think this is Mt. Blackburn, 16,390'