2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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    EXPLORING THE TEKLANIKA RIVERBED
& PARK ROAD FROM TEK TO IGLOO

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8

 
"Over 12,000 years ago this area [near the Teklanika River] was used as a lookout site 
and quarry for tools. High vantage points nearby provided expansive views of the wildlife
corridor . . . The abundance of food, water, and relatively easy passage all make for an
ideal corridor through which wildlife can travel. Depending on the season, grizzly bears 
can be seen digging for roots or eating wildflowers near the edge of the braided river
banks. Wolves hunt the corridor for moose and caribou. Hunt for tracks!"
 
~ from an interpretive panel in the Teklanika ("Tek") River Campground
 
 
While Jim and I were walking through the campground this morning after we got set up in our site, we met a fella who'd been out hiking along the riverbed.

He told us about the shallow but fast water running through the main river channel, a ridge with high vantage points, the big pile of bear scat he saw . . . and the grizzly bear he spotted across the river, less than a quarter mile from our campground!


This is the only pile of bear scat I found today, and it was a big one full
of red and orange berries! For perspective, my shoes are a men's size 10.

That both intrigued and concerned me.

Intrigue won out, however, and I kept my plan of hiking along the riverbed after lunch. Believe me, I kept my eyes open for bears the entire way! They could be nearby in the trees along either side of the river.

I didn't cross it today but might on another hike so I can get to one of the ridges to the west:

Jim can't hike much so he rode his bike out about eight miles on the park road past the Igloo tent campground and back for a round trip of 16+ miles from our campsite.

We both enjoyed our hike/bike ride. I'll begin here with some information about Jim's ride and photos he took.

JIM'S BIKE RIDE FROM MP 29 TO 37 ON THE PARK ROAD

Jim's really been looking forward to riding the dirt sections of the park road past Savage River because there is much less traffic from there (MP 15) to the end of the road at Kantishna (MP 92). As you'd expect, the farther we go into the wilderness, the fewer buses and people we'll encounter on the road and trails.

The photos in this section are ones he took on his bike ride. He doesn't like to bother with a camera, especially when he's on his bike, so he took many fewer pictures than I did while hiking.


The road parallels closely to the river for about two miles west of our campground.


In the center of the photo, down on the riverbed, two people are walking. I was there a little later.


Bridge over the broad riverbed a couple miles past our campground

Jim said this section of the road was in excellent condition -- somewhat damp so no dust, smooth, wide enough for park shuttle and tour buses to pass easily -- and there weren’t any hills too steep to climb where he rode.

This is the park road map showing the section he covered this afternoon:

He really enjoyed the scenery and quietness.

So did I. All I could hear was the river water flowing past me, even though I was paralleling the roadway to the west only a few hundred feet (you can't see the river very well on the map above).

Here are three more photos Jim took along the road:

 

 

While we were outside today neither of us heard any planes or helicopters, although I think our Denali flight-seeing plane flew over this area a couple days ago.

Aircraft were frequent and rather noisy over Riley Creek Campground near the park entrance. I didn't notice them much on any of my hikes in that area and, like railroads and other irritations that are sometimes near campgrounds, we got used to the air traffic noise fairly quickly at Riley Creek.

The difference out here is amazing, though. Quiet, quiet, quiet.

MY HIKE ALONG THE RIVER CORRIDOR 

Our campground is aptly named because it's so close to the Teklanika River. Some of the sites are very close to the riverbed:

Fortunately, the river is pretty low this time of year or that camper might get wet.

I'm glad our site is a little farther from the rocks because I like the woods and a little stream to walk Cody near the camper:


This is our "back yard."

This afternoon I hiked south (upstream) over the sand and rocks for 2˝ miles from our campsite to the bridge where the park road crosses the broad river bed.

Then I walked a little farther south along the river, turned around, and decided to hike back to our campground on the road so I could see the deck at the Teklanika rest area where I saw people standing earlier when I was a hundred feet or more below them on the riverbed:


I zoomed in to get this picture of my audience.  I wouldn't have
even known they were there if someone hadn't yelled hello to me.

My total mileage was about five miles. I'll show photos of all that in a minute.

As I started up the road from the bridge Jim yelled at me. As described above, he’d ridden eight miles west on the park road and was returning to the campground when he saw me.

We talked for a couple minutes, took pictures of each other, and continued back to our campground separately. We still had about two miles to go from the bridge to our site.

It was interesting to look down where I'd been walking but I much preferred hiking next to the river more than on the road.

WALKING IN THE RIVERBED

I liked hiking slowly in the riverbed, although the rocks were a little hard on my knees and ankles.

It helped that I had both trekking poles. I wore my lightweight Asics trail running shoes because they drain well and I knew I’d probably get them wet (I did, but wouldn’t have had to). I would have been better off in my sturdier low-cut Merrill hiking shoes.

I also went slowly to enjoy the scenery (haven't walked on a braided riverbed before), to look for bears and other critters (didn’t see any), and to inspect the flowers and rocks.

 

 

 


Fireweed


I think this is Alaska cotton AKA cotton grass

I had fun trying to spot unusual rocks. There is quite a variety in the riverbed, picked up and carried down here by snowmelt and rainwater from high in the Alaska Range. Next spring many of these rocks will probably end up farther downstream somewhere.

I like the interesting lines running through these rocks, which are each about eight or nine inches long:

      

I noted that some of the aspens are already turning gold and there are more and more red leaves on plants that used to be green:

 

Summer sure is short up here!

Continued on the next page (too many pictures for one page).

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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