Overnight in the Talkeetnas

Outdoor_Fool

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After a ridiculously wet summer, my son & I finally took off for a weekend trip in early August. We headed down to the Denali Highway, the original route from Anchorage to Denali NP. There is a peak just south of the highway that I've wanted to hike up for years and now we had a chance. Peak 5464.

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By the time we started out the clouds were moving in.
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At the start, our trails were mostly caribou trails.
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Down low, wetlands were scattered along the way.
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As we exited the flatter terrain, the views of the Alaska Range started opening up.
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Eventually we hit one of the ATV trails in the area.
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An arctic ground squirrel burrow. One of many.
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The trail petered out fairly low but it helped us through a lot of brushy country.
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A caribou hunter's camp. This was the first day of the youth hunt in the area.
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Just past the hunter's camp, we passed a couple of graves.
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Still a bit of trail.
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An old deteriorated wolf scat.
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Fireweed.
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The graves have a nice view of the Alaska Range.
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A cousin of fireweed, river beauty.
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Caribou scat.
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Another wolf scat, looks to be full of caribou hair.
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A couple of arctic ground squirrels. they kept an eye on us for quite a while.
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Our campsite about 1/4 mile away, in the saddle on the front ridge.
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Caribou hunters returning to camp. An adult passed us earlier hauling most of the meat.
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As evening approached the clouds kept building.
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There were crow berries, blueberries, and bear berries scattered around our camp areas. These are crow berries, not much on taste but full of water.
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View from camp to the west.
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View to the NW.
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A bald eagle cruised over us as we heated water for dinner.
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View to the Alaska Range. Clouds kept coming and going all evening.
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Riley and I out for a short hike. After dinner, we hit the tent as the clouds built up. We sat in the tent as a monster lightning storms bounced around.

The closest strike was a bit less than a 1/4 mile away. As exposed as we were, it was exciting to say the least. We counted over 40 strikes. He loved the way the thunder rumbled around the mountains.
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The next morning. Camp overlooking the upper Nenana River valley.
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Three caribou strolled by camp on the ridge to the east. I captured the last one before it disappeared.
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The clouds were low as we took off for the peak.
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An old caribou antler.
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A break in the clouds to the east.
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Looking down at camp, the bright orange in the center.
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As in the day before, the clouds kept moving through.
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We ran into some rock ptarmigan.
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Another caribou antler.
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Riley approaching the peak.
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The top in the clouds. Our dreams of expansive views were crushed.
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Riley on top. We eventually hiked to the knob behind him as we weren't real sure which one was higher.
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Dall sheep scat.
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Someone previously had created a little cubby out of the wind, which gave us a comfortable spot to snack.
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The great view to the south.
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As we headed down we were able to escape the clouds, giving us nice sunny weather.
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The view down to the Denali Highway and Nenana River.
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A caterpillar along the way. My camera battery died right after this picture.
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The end.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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May 31, 2015
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Amazing scenery! What an amazing area you live in. That's quite a variety of scat you found up there too. Haha.
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Apr 8, 2015
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Beautiful place, and way easier to find than your latest "guess the spot" map post Want to spend more time up there someday.
 

scatman

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Dec 23, 2013
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Ah, to live in Alaska - daydreaming while I'm tying this. Beautiful shots @Outdoor_Fool. Now we just need one of the old man! :D I like the River Beauty and the Crow Berries, and the caribou one is pretty sweet too.
 

Titans

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Wow. Riley looks super happy, no mosquitoes chasing him on that trip. I love the Caribou photo.... What was the temperature range?
I would have been petrified in that lightning & thunder storm.
 

wsp_scott

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I really like the caribou in the mist/clouds photo.

One day I'll make it back to Alaska
 

Outdoor_Fool

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Wow. Riley looks super happy, no mosquitoes chasing him on that trip. I love the Caribou photo.... What was the temperature range?
I would have been petrified in that lightning & thunder storm.
@Titans It's funny about that lightning storm. A few days prior to this trip, @WasatchWill had started a thread about sleeping above treeline and concern about lightning. As I sat in the tent with Riley listening to the the thunder boom all around us, I realized the irony if we were to be taken out by a strike.

He has become big fan of the outdoors and he loved this trip. So yes, he was really happy. Luckily the mosquitoes were only an issue down low around the wetlands, as expected.

As far as temps, the high was around 60. On the peak it was down around 40 or so. With the breeze at the top, the windchill was down around freezing. Having that little windblock in the rocks was awesome. After a while, Riley could feel his hands again.

@scatman Not gonna happen.
But hey, when you make it up here, let me know. I'll walk by you at the airport and you'll have no idea. ;)

@wsp_scott Let me know if/when you do.
 
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