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Author Topic: Alaska & Yukon Territory  (Read 2888 times)
robertprice
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« on: May 03, 2004, 09:36:08 PM »
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Hmuenx,  The only time to avoid tourists here in Alaska is to come in December and January!

The drawback to wildlife photography during the months of June and July is that the undercover is quite thick in most places along the road.  

In additioin to McKinley and the torturous bus ride, I might recommend a side trip to McCarthy, and perhaps Manley Hot Springs.  On the road between Glennallen and Valdez you may see some black bear and/or cinnamon bear.  Between Anchorage, Glennallen, and Delta junction you may see caribou and moose.  Eagles in Valdez along the Lowe river.  In Eagle you will absorb a lot of history and perhaps be able to photograph fish wheels, some traditional fish camps, and salmon drying on racks.

Nonetheless, the scenery is breathtaking pretty much anywhere you travel.  When the scenery is not taking away your breath, the mosquitoes will take it, and some blood (grin).

Have a good trip.

doc
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howard smith
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2004, 02:19:18 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']A few years ago, my younger son and I rafted from the Yukon to the Pacific on the Tatshinshini Rver.  It was August, the weather after the first four days was perfect.  In 10 days, we saw one group on a commercial trip.  We all waved as they passed and never saw them again.  Bears everwhere.  More eagles than you could count.  Wolves.  Moose.  Deer.  Very recommeded.  Even the mosquitos were OK as long as you stuck to the river.  The deer flys were a different story.[/font]
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howard smith
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2004, 10:10:26 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']hmuenx,

There are no people between the put-in point and the take out.  We did pass a couple of trapper cabins, but there are no towns, roads, bridges, trains - any sign of civilization.  Saw a few airplanes at high altitude.

By far, the easiest way to handle the trip is a commercial raft trip.  They handle everything after you arrive in Juneau unil you and in Yakitat.  That's all the food, boats (including the skill of river running) and the short flight from the end at Dry Bay to Yakiat.  My son and I bought a raft, took some white water rafting classes, and practiced white water rafting for a couple years before going.  We sold the raft when we got back.  Total cost for the two of us was under $2000.  Commercial trips are much more but, again, provide all you need.

The rafting was actually pretty easy.  The river starts as a clear stream and grows.  The only major rapid was on day 2.  It is about 7-8 miles long with no way out but down river.  It is class 2/3 to 6 depending on the water level.  Beyond that, the only rowing we did was to kep the boat off the bank.  Most of the river is flat and swift running.  Silt became a problem after a few days.  Coffee was gritty and washing merely replaced old dirt with new.  Bets plan was to scoop up a bucket full and let the mud settle over night.  Still gritty but better.  The water was very cold.

Rapids were mostly quick where a creek and rocks washed in.  They were usually avoidable by simply going to the far side of the river.  After the Alsec River enters the Tat, the river is huge, flat and swift.  The last day was spent floating with the ice bergs from the Alsec Glacier.  The glacier is bout 7 miles wide and quite a sight.  We stayed a couple miles away from it (they are dangerous) but could hear it cracking all night.

At one point, the river was braided.  Finding a route was hard and required some back tracking and some pulling the boat over ravel bars.  Not really a problem.

Camping was no problem at all.  We used gravel bars that are everywhere.  Next to the water, the wind kept the bugs to none.  We used moth balls to keep the bears away from the food.  They came into cmp at night but never bothered us or anything else.  Seeing a brown bear track in the sand next to where you were sleeping that was bigger than the span of your hand was sobering.  But you can camp anywhere you want and there are plenty of places.  In fact, there are only a very few "formal" campsites used by commercial rafters.Again, a commerial trip is the easiest and maybe safest way to go.  The commercial trips carry shotguns to ward off aggressive bears if needed.  Handguns are illegal to take into Canada, but we had a .44 magnun rolled up in the raft.

This was a trip of a lifetime - one my son and I will never forget.[/font]
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hmuenx
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2004, 06:12:42 PM »
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Hi,

we are currently preparing this year's vacation: About four weeks with a mobile home in Alaska and the Yukon Territory in June/July. The route is not entirely fixed but it will be something along the line of Whitehorse, Chicken, Tok, Fairbanks, Denali NP, Anchorage, Seward, Tok, Whitehorse. Pretty standard route, I would say.

Maybe you can help me to make our planning perfect. ;-) Questions:

1/ Bears. We definately need to see bears. Unfortunately, Brooks Falls seem to be outside our budget. I heard about lots of bears in Hyder but this is way south of our route. Seems to be quite crowded nowadays. Can you recommend any other locations where we have a good chance to see bears and where the location is suitable for photography?

2/ For our past travels, I usually had a quite clear view on many locations where I wanted to take images. For this travel, everything is a bit vague for some reason. Can you recommend any specific spots, day hikes, or other opportunities, which are worthwile from a natur photographer's perspective? We are moderately trained so it can be a bit away from the beaten path - avoiding tourist crowds is always a priority during our vacations.

Well, I admit that this post seems a bit naive but maybe you can help me anyway. Any input will be appreciated - thank you very much in advance!
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hmuenx
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2004, 11:00:51 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi Robert,

sorry - somehow forgot to reply to your post before vacation (and now it is kind of hilarious late but I do it anyway). Thank you for your hints!

Avoiding tourists *was* difficult, as you said. However, entering more remote areas (such as the Dempster Hwy in the YT) helped a lot and you could do hikes without meeting anybody. Quite an experience to meet a bear family 15 metres away with nobody else around. ;-)

Still, photography and wildlife wise it was a difficult trip. There were many wildfires, both in Alaska and YT, causing lots of smoke in the air, effectively preventing me from shooting for about two weeks out of four. Disappointing. For example, I absolutely wanted to do McCarthy as you suggested, but it wasn't worth the effort due to all the smoke when we were in Glenallen.[/font]
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hmuenx
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2004, 09:19:15 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Thanks, Howard. Actually, I have no clue how one would organise such trip. In particular,

- How would I handle the end of the rafting? Is there are good take out near to populated areas or would I need some plan to meet me there and take me out?

- Seeing a lot of rivers full of glacial silt, I would assume that rafting is quite difficult. I guess it is not only rapids, but constantly changing river beds due to deposition of silt. What do you think?

- How is camping handled? Are there sufficient good places to land the boat and camp?

- Are there companies who rent the required equipment to me?[/font]
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hmuenx
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2004, 12:31:36 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']This was a trip of a lifetime - one my son and I will never forget.[/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']Thank you, Howard, for the detailed description. While we already returned from this year's trip, I will keep this in mind, because I loved the lnorthern andscape and would definately like to return.[/font]
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Holger
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