Denali 2011 – Day 3 – Riley Creek 1

Tuesday 8/23/2011 – Riley Creek (Unit 2), Denali National Park, AK

  • Total distance today: 7.42 mi
  • Total moving time: 4:32
  • Elevation: about 2000ft increase, max elevation 2685ft

This day was my 3rd (and final) anniversary.  I tried not to think about it too much given the pain involved.  God is good, and He gives grace to the broken-hearted, so it wasn’t bad.. it was just reasonable to think about it on that day for a bit.

We got up around 7:45am or so.  It was getting bright about 5-5:30am I think, but we were all resting in our tents still:

Yeah - that little tent in the left foreground - that would be mine. And I'm the biggest of the 3 of us. How's that work?

We broke down camp, loaded up on water, planned our hike for the day and then set off.

Packing for our hike. Those clear plastic cylinders are the bear vaults we kept food and trash and um.. waste paper in.

Helps to plan before you go out on a hike…

Just a little into our hike, we crossed a pretty substantial bridge (it’s used for ATVs, not just hikers):

I love shots of bridges

This dude just keeps getting in the picture

Brian crossing the bridge

We took the Triple Lakes Trail, but we made a tactical error and should’ve followed Riley Creek.  We went up around 1200ft for over 5 miles when we could’ve had a much shorter route.  We had to just pick a spot and head down this one hill (mini-mountain really) and do a little bit of off-trail hiking.  Thankfully we had the GPS so we could target our exit point from the hill to a spot on Riley Creek we would eventually cross.  We didn’t want to go down too steep of a slope since that could’ve been dangerous.

The view from the top of the mountain we climbed up - what you see is where we wanted to get that evening and Riley Creek was in between that mountain and the one we were on.

Once we finally got down, we had to cross the frigid and fast-moving Riley Creek.  It was painfully cold but we had no issues (other than me whining a bit about the pain – hey it was cold!).

Where we crossed Riley Creek

We hiked for another little while and then had to cross a smaller (but much deeper) glacial-fed stream.  Again – we had no problems.  We refilled on water using my filter and then continued uphill.

We elevated another 700 ft or so (up to just shy of 2700ft) on very steep and squishy terrain (a lot of the terrain we have been on is incredibly squishy – not from rain but just the plants – sometimes it went down 9-12″ when we stepped).  The steepness of this hill was pretty hard on Brian and myself (Dave was ok).

We ended up picking a camping spot at 2685ft since it was the only clearing we had seen, and we were pretty tired.  We arrived there about 5:15pm or so.  We set up tents, rested a bit, but then it started to rain a little so we figured we should go ahead and eat so we could then get in our dry tents.

Camp - Brian on the left there and Dave and I on the right

The view from camp - the ridge in the distance is where we had been hiking earlier in the day (the ridge we shouldn't have gone up)

We have to eat 100 yds away (downwind) from the tents and then when done leave our Bearvaults 100 yds away from where we ate and the tents (known as the golden triangle).  After that, Brian went to bed while Dave and I played frisbee, but got up enough to take a few pics of us playing:

Caught in the act

After frisbee, Dave and I both got in his tent and played a couple games of Farkle (he beat me both games!!).  We finished the games and then I was leaving his tent but got a major cramp in my left leg.  Much laughing ensued from Dave.

Our plan for tomorrow is reasonably ambitious but should be less than what we did today.  I just pray that the weather is ok and we don’t go on the wrong path again (meaning our path-making decision not our actual navigation – we’ve been very good with that given my GPS and the printed topo maps that we have).


Brian’s post for day 3 is here