How to find a campsite, by Carl.

backpacking campsite, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

There’s a lot of things I’m not good at. I can’t do math (I quit, right around the time our class began studying something they referred to as ‘long division’). I can’t play basketball. I have a black thumb when it comes to all things computer. I’m not good at remembering where I put things ….. BUT!!!! ……. I can damned sure find a helluva great place to set up a tent and spend a night. This campsite is from the second night on our trip around the Tebay Lakes area this past August. The drop off to the left of my tent in this image is about 300′, straight down. Pretty hairy, but what an awesome spot. We had great views of this little glacier, and we could hear Tebay Falls thundering down in the valley below us. We ended up spending 2 nights here, one a week or so later, and I’d have to say this is one of my all-time favorite campsites.

We had dinner about 75 yards downhill from here, by a small stream that had tasty, clear cool water. A nice little waterfall provided a spot to fill up a bottle, or a cooking pot, though it required a little effort to get through the alder to find it. But it was SO worth it! On our final morning here, a thick fog had rolled in, totally blanketing the valley. From my tent, I couldn’t see anything over the edge of the cliff here, just a thick pea-soup fog. It was kinda eerie, but also WAY cool. One of the neatest experiences I’ve ever had in the backcountry was when we had breakfast that foggy morning, and a Merlin appeared out of nowhere. A merlin is a raptor, a member of the Falcon family, and a very cool bird.

So, anyway, this merlin flies in, and sits up on some rocks just north of us. He flies around us a few times, landing and taking off, clearly curious as to what we were up to. Then the merlin flies out into the fog, where a strong updraft was coming right up out of the valley, by the cliff here. As soon as he hit the draft, the merlin went straight up into the sky, completely out of control; it was as if he was tumbling upwards. As the updraft weakerned, he gathered his wings, flew back down near ourselves, and then once again flew straight into the draft, parallelling the ground, over the edge of the cliff, until he hit the draft, and again, tumbled skywards, a rolling, tumbling mass of feathers. He must’ve done this 4 or 5 times at least, clearly enjoying the game. What a treat to see this and enjoy a cup of hot fresh coffee at the same time! We were also visited by a large golden eagle, but he didn’t stay around as long.

The previous evening, an adult mountain goat billy came wandering around the ridge, traversing the cliffs and rock faces like he was walking on a maintained trail. I went to get my camera to get some shots, but he wasn’t too into having his picture taken. Now the merlin, I’m sure I could’ve got some images of, but my gear was up at the tent, 75 yards uphill. If I’d known, initially, that the merlin woud hang around as long as he did, and provide us with such an entertaining show, I’d have grabbed the camera and lens.

I can’t wait to get back to this spot. I’ll be there in Aug 2008 – Bremner to Tebay Trek.

Cheers

Carl

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3 thoughts on “How to find a campsite, by Carl.

  1. Mark

    What a great moment with that Merlin. And to be in such a place, you really sit back and say ‘ this is what it is all about….’ I certainly wouldn’t mind waking to that view in the morning.

  2. Carl Donohue

    Hey Mark,

    Yeah, that was pretty cool, with the merlin. Just an amazing experience, I have no idea what I did to get that little treat – it was way cool.

    Cheers

    Carl

  3. Pingback: Backpacking Tebay lakes, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska. - Stock Photos - Skolai Images

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