DAY 4: Sediments Creek to Alkie Creek
The plan for the day after the big hike to Goat Ridge was for a leisurely (and short) float to a camp at Alkie Creek. After dragging our sore carcasses out of our Bags of Decadence, we tottered over for another varied and filling breakfast before packing-up and loading the rafts. We were graced with yet another mild (for almost 60º north latitude) and sunny day for our scenic float to Alkie Creek. Once there, we pitched camp, napped, and/or wandered around (but not too far because of the bears) looking at the landscape. Where we live, creek usually means a waterbody that we can (except during the Spring runoff) either step across or easily wade across. Here creek is really a river – usually a cold, swift, turbulent, cloudy one that you’d try to cross at your peril.
DAY 5: Alkie Creek to Melt Creek
Today we made the long float (about 45 km / 28 miles) from Alkie Creek to Melt Creek and our last campsite and lay-over day on the Tatshenshini. The day started out overcast and cold but got progressively better as we floated along. We bounced through one rapid (Monkey Wrench) before passing the mouths of the O’Connor and Tkpoe Rivers, whose contributions noticeably swelled the volume of the Tatshenshini. Below the O’Connor, the Tat starts to bend westward and is flowing due west when it reaches its confluence with the Alsek. We stopped for lunch between Tomahnous and Towagh Creeks and reached Melt Creek in the afternoon. The waters of Melt Creek (really a river) nearly double the volume of the Tatshenshini just before it joins the Alsek. Because the creek and the river had rearranged the landscape a bit at Melt Creek (something they are always doing), landing there took a lot of paddling, pushing, and scraping. Our reward was the excellent campsites at Melt Creek, which are situated on a large sparsely vegetated, outwash plain that’s easy to pitch tents on and also easy to wander around on (but not too far owing to the bears).
DAY 6: Melt Creek
What was magical about camping at Melt Creek was the sense (and the reality) that we were nestled in a bowl, surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges, many with large glaciers. To the north the Noisy Range, to the east the Alsek Ranges, to the south the Fairweather Ranges, and to the west, the Icefield Ranges. These magical aspects were enhanced by the weather, which was almost “desert” warm and sunny for the two days we were at Melt Creek. Campers started to appear in shorts and sandals – not knowing that this was angering the weather Morlocks, who would soon issue us several days of “corrective” (not sunny or warm or dry) weather. But that was in the future, so our days at Melt Creek were spent frolicking in the fields, lounging around camp, and catching up on our float & bloat eating (think Eloi in The Time Machine). We did manage a short hike until we reached the nearly impenetrable vegetation not far from camp – and saw the fresh grizzly tracks along the creek. Our days here were second only to the hike in terms of wonderfulness. Sigh…