Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chitna Pass - September 2015

For Alaska crusher Alex Geilich a good adventure should be scary, painful, or gorgeous.  Ideally, all of the above. When Alex came back delighted with the Chitna Pass backpack, I figured it rated highly on the Geilich Beauty Scale and was immediately intrigued.
Alex sent me a map and I looked at a few pictures; that was enough. A fall Saturday found us sitting at the Pinochle Creek trailhead on an overcast morning. Everyone else in the parking lot had a truck and an ATV trailer. Clearly, this was the right spot. Zach, Khalial, and Andalyn had all done some research, between the four of us the route could be pieced together.


The route was quickly confirmed by plenty of ATVs and mud. From Pinochle Creek a small pass brought us to Hicks Creek.


As each hunter passed they were both intrigued and confused by our lack of motors and guns. We were intrigued and confused by their motors and guns. 
By the end of the first day, it was on to Caribou Creek and a nice campsite along the water.

With Sunday off to a sunny start we left Caribou Creek and the rednecks behind and headed towards Chitna Pass.
Also, behind were the ATV superhighways exchanged for ephemeral game trails.

Hitting tree line, the mountains opened up around us.
Just short of the pass we decided on a detour.
Following caribou trails that seemed most concerned with views and peak bagging brought us to the top.
Despite the uncertainty that the added miles and vertical might leave us walking in the dark, it was worth it.

A break in the patchy clouds brought a moment of perfection.

With that view in mind we headed back down.

Then, up and over Chitna Pass and into the Boulder Creek drainage.
A brief downpour produced the most spectacular light of the trip.
The blueberries weren’t bad either.

Full of berries and fall colors, we slept next to Boulder Creek.
With a bit of a slog ahead, Monday started early.
But, as the clouds lifted there were more spectacular and different sights.
I’d been dreading the final 6 miles on the Chickaloon-Nelchina Trail, but it ended up being gorgeous.
Walking without of sight and sound of the highway, we got a view of the Chugach and Talkeetnas that I’ve never noticed while zooming by on the road.
This one sure was beautiful, I’m looking forward to the next recommendation from the Geilich Scale.