Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heavenly Creek (aka "Hike of Death")

Again, original post can be found on Michelle's blog .

Our third day in Alaska, my dad and I decided it would be fun to hike into the Headwaters of Brooks Lake. It's a 2 mile hike across the tundra in this trail that has been used for longer than humans have been around. The tundra is so beautiful!

When we got to the creek, we were quite warm from our hike, so the cool water felt good. And while there was plenty of bear tracks, there were no bears to be seen. Probably because there were almost no Sockeye to be found either, and the bears eat the Sockeye. And because the trout eat the eggs from the Sockeye that don't make it into the redd (salmon nest), there were very few trout.

I only caught a handful of fish, but the greylings are particularly cool. They have this dorsal fin that can stand up really high:

The fin is half again as big as the fish!

After lunch, we needed to make a decision: 1) stop fishing sooner and hike back out the way we came, or 2) keep fishing downstream and hike to the lake. Both places were about 5 miles away (straight line distance) at the time we made our decision: hike to the lake. Nobody had ever done it before, and we figured we could handle the extra hiking.

On our way our we found a pocket of spawning silver salmon. Thy were fun to catch and are quite colorful in their mating colors.

After we caught some silvers, we had to leave the riverside and hike cross-country. There was no trail, but we had a GPS and coordinates. And we were INSANE. Tundra is a unique surface to walk on. It sinks when you step on it (anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of give), but it doesn't push back on your foot (it isn't very springy). But when you step off it, the tundra fluffs back up. Hiking across the open (thawed) tundra in waders wasn't very easy. I shoved my fishing rod down the pants because I couldn't carry it. I had to use my hands to pull up on my waders so my feet didn't get stuck. It was harder than hiking uphill in sand. I had to lift my feet twelve inches in the air for each and every step. And it was so hot. And I didn't know how I could keep going. I felt like I would cry when I found out that we weren't even half way there after an hour of hiking. I started counting my steps to keep my mind occupied. I got to 1,250 or so before I got distracted by TREES.

A ridiculous amount of time later (but only 30 minutes late for our pickup time), we arrived at Brooks Lake. HALLELUJAH! I was so happy to be done.

We were the first (and probably last) people in the history of the lodge to attempt (or succeed) in this feat. We just might have made it into the lodge lore :)

No comments: