Part 6: Gulkana Glacier Part 2


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The Trip

We took some photo at the top of the glacier and then prepared to return down the valley.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Bill and Dan take in the stunning view from the viewpoint.  The GoPro on my helmet makes me look like a space alien.

Roberto takes photos while Kai enjoys a "sports soda".

Roberto was having a great time.

For all its drawbacks, the GoPro did have a remote trigger which allowed the photo above.  From the left: Roberto, Bill, Kai, Dan.

Kai on his loaner "mountain sled".

Roberto on his loaner sled.

We packed and got ready to head down the glacier.

The upper reaches of the glacier provided awesome views of the valley to the south.

The triangle-shaped hut on the small hill is a USGS glacier study emergency shelter.  The surface of the glacier was covered with trackless snow.

Summit Lake and our cabin is down at the foot of the cliffs on the far horizon.

The GoPro allowed shots while in motion, but often provided a visual illusion about uphill and downhill.

From the shelter hut, we had a commanding view of the upper bowl.

The only tracks in the bowl were ours.

Note the crevasses on the far slopes.  Great caution is required in areas that have crevasses.

The snow was smooth and fast.

In the upper bowls the guys were playing around leaving interesting tracks.

On the exit from the valley we got another close view of the icefall.

Further down the valley we came upon a suspension bridge that crossed the Gulkana River.  This is required for crossing the river when the snow is melting.

Near the mouth of the canyon we passed some abandoned equipment used for gold mining.

Near the mouth of the canyon we spotted an interesting notch in one of the side canyons.  It was not clear if the notch was due to the mining efforts or a natural occurrence.

The last act of the day was to fuel the machines for the next use.  Like most folks at Summit Lake, Dan has his own fuel tank.

This was an awesome trip.  Despite the 6 roll-over accidents on the first day, things went well.  I was told that I "did good" for a first time rider, but I am still limping.  The good news is that there does not appear to be any permanent damage. 

Alaska offers many challenges, particularly for those unprepared.  Cold can kill and being prepared prevents frostbite or worse.  We were lucky that we did not suffer any mechanical problems with the sleds as walking out of some of the areas we were in would be virtually impossible without snowshoes.

Many thanks to Dan for hosting us at his cabin and loaning us his sleds.  Dan's cabin was warm, comfortable and had all the amenities.  But the best amenities were the friends.  And thanks to Kai and Roberto for being great expedition companions.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.