In 2010 we took a small group off on an exploratory trip to Lake Clark National Park. It was such a success that we are adding it to our roster as a late season trek.
Like Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark National Park is a bit more remote and therefore little known outside Alaska. The only way to get to Lake Clark is to fly - there are no roads! That means you won't have to rent a car and the cost for this trek includes just about everything except airfare to Anchorage.
We meet up in Anchorage to review and distribute gear and then head to the Moose's Tooth for the best pizza in the north country. The next morning we begin our adventure with the flight from Anchorage, over stunning and forbidding terrain on the way to the town of Port Allsworth in Lake Clark National Park. We land at Port Alsworth where we board a smaller plane on floats for the flight into Lake Telaquana.
The shores of Lake Telaquana do not offer good camping so we hike about a mile or so up the ridge and set up our first camp. We will be situated above Lake Telaquana with an amazing view all around.
We start off by heading up Trail Creek where we might spend an extra day to do some exploring. Then it's up into the high country as we cross the knees of Mt. Telaquana which towers above us at 8000'. Then we drop down to Turquoise Lake which is one of the prettiest lakes you'll ever see with peaks looming all around. We'll probably want to spend a day here to do a bit of exploring up side valleys and soak up this amazing spot.
Then it's back to the highlands as we head up a dramatic valley next to a thundering stream. It's up and over the pass and we drop into the prettiest valley of the trek and a great area for spotting wildlife including bear, sheep and fox.
We bid farewell to the high country and spend a day hiking down the valley towards Twin Lakes. There is a bit of bushwhacking on this day but eventually we hit what was Dick Proenneke's old trail that he used for gaining access to the high country for hunting trips.
The spot where the trail meets the stream below offers an amazing campsite with broad gravel bars. From here it's an easy walk to Twin Lakes.
Our journey around Twin Lakes includes a stream crossing and some bushwhacking but the camping along the way is terrific.
The final campsite of the trek is just a few hundred yards away from the historic Dick Proenneke cabin. Proenneke built the cabin using only hand tools and lived on the shores of Twin Lakes from 1968 to 1999. If we're lucky we'll get a guided tour from the voulunteer who spends his summers there. He was a friend of Dick's and can share lots of inside informaiton.
The next morning we are picked up on the shore of Upper Twin Lake for the flight back to Port Alsworth and our connecting flight back to Anchorage.
This will be a great trip featuring some of the most dramatic terrain you will find anywhere in Alaska. Group size will be kept to just four participants and a guide so reserve early!
Oh, I almost forgot. This trip features something we don't usually get to do - fish! There are opportunities to fish for trout and grayling in Turquise and Twin Lakes. So if you have a small, backpacking rod bring it along!
Last year we had fresh fish three times on the trip.
Trek begins in Anchorage, Alaska
8 days/7 nights trekking in Lake Clark National Park
Difficulty: Strenuous/Very Challenging
Duration: 8 days trekking
Season: Early July - Early SeptemberDetailed Itinerary
After a quick breakfast we gather at Merrill field for an early morning flight from Anchorage to Port Alsworth. In Port Alsworth we change planes and board a small float plane for the flight to Lake Telaquana. In a matter of a few hours we are transported from downtown Anchorage to pristine wilderness. The plan for our first day depends on what time we arrive at Telaquana. We might camp at the lake or, if we arrive early enough, we will head up the ridge to the south and camp near one of the pot-hole lakes there.
From the ridge it's an easy walk down to a nameless stream that meanders through a broad and beautiful valley. It's a great spot for lunch or just a rest break. From here we head up the other side of the valley but it's a gradual hike uphill and the wide open terrain makes for sweeping views of the area. After traversing around the end of the ridge we stop and set camp at a stunning spot with ragged peaks at our back.
The good news today is that it's mostly downhill and not a long day of travel. There is a bit of bushwhacking however as we descend to Turquise Lake, just to keep things interesting. Once at the aluvial fan above the lake we have one last chore before reaching camp. We have to cross a series of stream braids which, though not deep, are very cold. Or camp is set up in a protected spot close to the lake. You'll want to make sure you get an Alaska fishing license for this trip. Turquise Lake is one of several places on this trip where we will be able to fish, mostly for Grayling.
Frequently we spend a layover day here at Turquise - hiking, fishing and just relaxing.
Rested up from our easier day, we once again have a full day ahead of us. We head up a side valley and follow a stream up to the top of a high ridge. It's an exciting and sometimes dramatic route through a rocky terrain. Once on top of the ridge we are almost home. An easy descent down a short scree slope brings us to a nice camping spot with a small, clear stream running past.
This is another "mostly downhil" day as we find our way down the tundra valley. We can see that waters of Twin Lakes ahead of us beckoning us onward. After a bit of bushwhacking we drop down to where the valley flattens out. There is a fantastic spot to camp by the stream or we may elect to push on just a bit farther and set up at the shore of Upper Twin.
There's nothing like starting your day with a hot bath. We'll, a bath anyway. The first thing we have to do today is cross the connecting stream that links Upper and Lower Twin Lakes. It's a slow moving stream so not really difficult. It is however a bit on the deep side and might come up to our waist at the center of the channel. But we are soon across, stomping our feet and putting on dry clothes. We quickly get moving again to get our blood going and warm up. Route finding on this day is easy - we just hike along at the edge of the lake and head up-lake. There are a few spots where we are forced to leave the shore and do an up and over, but for the most part we hike along the gravel at water's edge. Our destination is a campsite near Hope Creek. After setting camp we make the short hike along the shore to check out Dick Proenecke's cabin. Dick was and old sourdough who spent years living alone on the shores of Upper Twin in a small but beautifully hand crafted cabin which he left to the Park Service. It makes a great end point to a terrific adventure.
Today we enjoy our breakfast and wait for the float plane to take us back to Port Alsworth where we make our connection on to Anchorage. So it's breakfast in the wilderness and dinner in the city. The group will gather for one last meal and to hoist a few brews as we relish the completion of a great adventure.
What's Not Included
Meals: What To Expect
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
Gear We Provide
What Clothes To Bring
Please refer to the gear list for recommended clothing (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (a few reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon ), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour.
How do We Get to McCarthy;
There are several options.
If you have more than 2 in your group then renting a car out of Anchorage can be a good option.
A shuttle service provides van transportation between Anchorage to McCarthy, Alaska. The shuttle departs Anchorage at 8:00 am arriving around 5:00 pm in McCarthy. This is the most economical way for one or two people to get to McCarthy and back.
If you are driving or taking the shuttle it takes about 8 hours to drive Anchorage to McCarthy.
Round Trip: US $390.00
The van service is operated by Wrangell-St. Elias Tours. Once you have a hotel reservation in Anchorage you will need to let them, as well as me, know where you will be staying. Also give them your cell phone number if you will have one with you.
Wrangell-St. Elias Tours
Contact: Jennifer Titus
Ride n Fly
The last 60 miles from Chitian to McCarthy is on the McCarthy road. 40 miles of the road are unpaved. It's usualy in good shape and any vehicle can easily drive it. But some folks prefer not to.
An alternative is to drive to Chitina and from there take the Wrangell Mountain Air shuttle that flies three times daily to McCarthy.
Wrangell Mt. Air - http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/getting_to_alaska.htm
Wrangell Mt. Air can also arrange a charter flight just for your group. Contact them about current rates.
There is a mail plane that flies between Anchorage and McCarthy twice a week - on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a good way for one or two people to get to and from McCarthy. Beautiful flight and no long drive in the car. With only two flights weekly you would likely need to arrive a few days early in McCarthy.
Where Do We Meet?
You'll meet your hiking guide and group in McCarthy for an orientation meeting around 6:00 p.m. the evening before the trip begins. You will be in contacted approximately 2-3 weeks before your trip and we will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The morning of departure it's a short walk across the street to Wrangell Mt. Air where we catch a shuttle van to the airstrip for our departure into the backcountry.
We like to get an early start on the first day as it might take two flights to get everyone into the backcountry. Departure times of 8:30 a.m. are common. Our pickups on the last day are usualy around mid-day to allow us time to get back to McCarthy and get cleaned up and relax before dinner.
Your safety is our top priority. Our treks are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are certified wilderness first responders or EMT's, each with years of wilderness experience. On most treks the guide carries a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 9074.554.1088 for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
We prefer to run small groups and our clients like it that way too. The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 907.554.1088 and we'll answer all your questions. If you have a larger group than ten give us a call as there are ways we can work with bigger groups such as scout groups.
Weather in the Wrangells
Alaska is pretty far north and like any mountain evirronment we are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Wrangell-St. Elias. July is especialy variable and we have had temps hit the low 80s some summers. Mid August is when things start to cool down a bit but still great hikng weather.
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|