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Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Clemson, South...
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Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

My wife and I will visit Alaska later this month and early August and, while our itinerary is pretty much set, I would appreciate a bit of advice regarding day hikes. We are in decent shape for old folks, late 60’s, and feel comfortable doing 8 to 10 miles on a given hike – maybe more if not too strenuous. We’ve recently done 10 mile hikes with 3,000 ft. elevation gains (in the Southwest US) fairly easily.

We are planning to hike the Harding Ice Field trail on Sunday, August 1. We should have all day to do the hike but wonder whether the trail may be snow covered or icy at that time.

We will travel to Denali on the second of August and have reservations on the Toklat shuttle bus for the next day. What would the best day-hike for us to do somewhere along that route. We are thinking of either Sable Mt., Igloo Mt., or Cathedral Mt. Which of those would be best or is there another that would be better?

We will have the next day in Denali also and plan to hike somewhere near the entrance area. What would be the best hike in that area?

Thanks for any help on these questions.

NPH

USA
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1. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

I remember you! Why are you only taking a shuttle to Tolkat now? I would change that for Eielson. Then you can get up into the high tundra for some of the best hiking, especially if the mountain is out. Up there you can see Denali when out. Even if it's not out, that high tundra area is worth it.

I would take a shuttle to Eielson the first day to hike in the high tundra around Thorofare Pass. And then get the Tolklat shuttle the second day to get off & hike around Cathedral Mt.

Can't you do an entrance hike the afternoon or evening you arrive at Denali?

Adirondack, New York
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2. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

NationalParkHiker, do search under "Denali hikes" and check this excellent post

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k30065…

Clemson, South...
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3. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Denalicat - I'm surprised you remembered me - perhaps because I was initially reluctant to take the bus at all. Somehow it seems a shame to waste time riding when we could be hiking. Anyway - I appreciate your recommendations and have considered lots of alternatives based on what I can glean from these forums and the park websites.

There is an elevation contour graphic in the summer Aspenglow newspaper that indicates the elevation of Sable pass and Polychrome to be about the same as the Highway Pass and Thoroughfare Pass further along. I thought the shorter travel distance on the bus would still get us to some of the higher places in the park and would allow more time for actually hiking. I realize Eielson VC is not that much further and if the hikes near there are that much better perhaps we should rethink. We have reservations already for the Toklat shuttle on Tue the 3rd so perhaps we should plan on the Eielson shuttle on the 4th?

Doing an entrance hike the day we arrive is a definite possibility. We had planned to do the visitors center, get ranger advice, and generally orient ourselves on that first day, but there could be time for a hike as well. Not sure how long it will take to get to Denali from Seward but I know your daylight hours are pretty long this time of year. What time does it get too dark to hike up there these days?

Places, thanks for the link. I had seen that post and it was one reason I was thinking of Sable Mt. as a possibility. Have you started your trip yet? Hope you have a great one.

Thanks to both of you for your help and advice, not only in response to my questions, but for all the many helpful posts you have given to so many other folks on these forums. They are of immeasurable value to those of us planning trips to your area.

NPH

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4. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Actually, I forgot you want to hike rather than ride the shuttle. I just quickly looked at your itinerary which was originally to Eielson.

If you are serious hikers & climbers like my friends & I, we have climbed around on Cathedral Mt. in the morning, hiked a sheep trail across & a drainage down to the park road to make it a traverse, then Tatler Creek & Sable Mt. are up the park road just a bit west from Cathedral. Igloo Mt. would be my last choice.

I can't remember..... do you have Ike Waits Denali guidebook? The Sable Pass Ridge Walk of his which is the ridge running back to Tek River & you access it from the Cathedral Mt. approach is one of the most beautiful in the park.

If you are avid hikers who don't like the idea of the shuttle, I think your plan is great, Nat'lParkHiker. I remember now our many conversations about day hikes.

Let me know if you have Ike's book.

I think Cathedral Mountain, Sable Pass Ridge Walk, Tatler Creek & Sable Mountain will keep you busy for 2 days. It really doesn't get any more beautiful than that for hiking!

USA
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5. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

For an entrance hike, Mt. Healy is nice in the cool of the morning or evening. Take water!

Harrisburg...
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6. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Hey NationalParkHiker

I also remember your previous thread. What did you decide to do about Wrangell St Elias? I think you were possibly considering hiking off of Nabesna Road. Since that is a dirt road I wondered if you're able to drive your rental on it? NPS finally put some of the hikes from that area on the Wrangell St Elias website. There is a pretty interesting hike that starts about 19 miles down the road on the Caribou Creek Trail. There is usually a decent amount of wildlife out that way. I haven't been on the trail for several years but you may enjoy it.

Here's the hike link:

nps.gov/wrst/…2012-3.pdf

Anchorage, Alaska
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7. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

The trail (Harding Ice Field) should not have ice or snow until you get to the "flattened out" top part. Then it is likely to have both.

Here's a link that I used frequently when living in AK. It has a lot of information on various hikes/trails:

http://www.alaskahikesearch.com/index.htm

Good luck & enjoy AK,

Scott

Clemson, South...
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8. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Denalicat - Well, we are about as serious about hiking as day-hikers can get. Would sure like to one day do a backpack hike but really worry about the bathroom facilities in the wild. How do you flush????? For that matter what do you sit on? OK - more than you wanted to know.

Thanks for the advice on the hikes. I think we will be fine. We'll talk to the rangers and get their advice as well so whatever we do I'm sure we will enjoy it.

We do not have Wait's book but have visited the site you recommended some time back and can see hike descriptions. Didn't seem like the thing to do to buy the book for just two days of real hiking.

Yeah - Mt Healy is one we thought we would do near the entrance. May try that Castle hike via Bison Gulch on that last day. Sort of depends on how the first day on the bus goes and if room is available on the bus the second day. My wife is just a wee bit afraid of heights and she's not sure about riding the bus too far. If it goes ok - we will do the bus to Eielson the second day - if not - may do the Bison thing.

For I want2Go - yes we are still planning to do some hiking off of the Nabesna road. The Caribou Creek trail is what we planned to do. Will stay in Chistochina that night. If the road is too rough to that trail may just go down to near Chitina and do that 5 mile hike, which apparently is 16 miles RT. That wasn't there when we did our itinerary.

Thanks to all.

NPH

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9. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

Unless it is very rainy, Nabesna Rd should be fine for the drive to the Caribou Creek Trail. Just try to remember to keep one half of the car on the high parts of the road if you start getting into ruts or large pot holes. It starts getting really bad about mile 28 or so but you'll only be traveling the first 9 or 10 miles. If in doubt stop and ask at Slana Ranger Station.

LOL! You have already discovered the lack of inspiration when landmarks and roads were named near Chitina. Five Mile Hike is named after it's proximity to Chitina. It is 5 miles from Chitina, not a 5 mile hike. Three miles out of town there is Three Mile Lake, two miles out is Two Mile Lake, one mile out is One Mile Lake, and the lake in town is Town Lake. Most of the roads are named after the creeks they cross.

Happy hiking!

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10. Re: Advice for Day-Hikes needed.

NPH....

Last summer the gift shop at the Wilderness Access Center started carrying Ike's book so you could take a peek there at Sable Pass Ridge Walk.

Have fun & PLEASE come back with a trip report!