Tag Archives: Chitistone River

Chitistone River

Chitistone River and University Range, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Chitistone River and University Range, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Another frame from the evening after crossing the Goat Trail, this one looking west down the Chitistone River, as it pours toward the Nizina River a few miles down from here.

This hike is the first trip I ever made in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, and one of the first I ever did in Alaska. It’s always a real treat to return to the area and walk this valley again. The Chitistone Canyon is absolutely spectacular, and a fantastic backpacking trip.

Views like this don’t happen everyday, which made this particular trip even more fun. We had pretty good weather most of the trip, no bugs, and lots of laughs. Just what a trip to the mountains should be.

Cheers

Carl

Chitistone falls, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

Chitistone Falls, in the Chitistone valley. The Goat Trail is a popular backpacking route, from Skolai Pass to Glacier Creek, along the Chitistone River, in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Chitistone Falls, in the Chitistone valley. The Goat Trail is a popular backpacking route, from Skolai Pass to Glacier Creek, along the Chitistone River, in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Chitistone falls are one of my favorite waterfalls in the park yet I rarely get to see them. When I do the Goat Trail now, I head north after crossing the scree slopes, and go away from the Chitistone river, rather than down lower toward the river, which is the only way to view the falls. However, this particular evening was so nice that after dinner I headed out for some photos, and knew right away I’d be spending some time watching and photographing the falls. It’s a tough slog to walk another 4 miles after backpacking all day, but can be SOOOOO worth it.

The trek down from where we’d camped was nice; it’s great to walk unencumbered after carrying a heavy backpack all day. I set out with my camera bag over my shoulder and my small backpacking tripod in one hand. For trekking I carry the carbon fiber Gitzo G1058  tripod and the ultra light Really Right Stuff BH-25 ballhead. It’s a great little combo for backpacking and hiking, weighing under 2lbs. Gitzo have since replaced this model with a newer version, the GT-0540 and GT-0530. I’m not sure how they’re different to my older one, but if you’re looking for a really great little hiking rig, this setup works well for me.

So I moseyed my way down from the high shoulder we were camped on, watching the light get sweeter and sweeter on the nearby high peaks of the University Range. When the weather is nice, few things are quite like walking alone  in the Alaska mountains late in the evening. What a beautiful hike this is!

I got down to the plateau I was aiming for, and, before even pulling out my camera, simply soaked up the atmosphere. The American Tree Sparrows were still singing their summer call, those 3 vibrato-laden little notes that proclaim the alpine summer. Hardly a breath of air moved and yet the sounds of the mountains carried down the valley; a moving experience in the Chitistone Canyon.

The word ‘Chitistone‘ is derived from  a native Ahtna (Athapaskan) word, ‘chiti‘, that translates as ‘copper‘ in English; so ‘chitistone‘ is ‘copper stone‘. The bulk of the rock around the Chitistone canyon is Nikolai greenstone and limestone. The entire region is famous for copper production, with Kennicott Copper Mine being perhaps the most famous of all. Fortunately, the mining has largely ended in the region now, and the canyons and mountains are left alone for the bears and Dall sheep and hikers, and the mountains themselves. It’s a grand landscape.

On a warm summer day, when the glacial melt is high, the river is fairly broiling, and the falls can be thunderous. Quite a spectacle.

This particular viewpoint has always reminded me of Artist Point, in the more famous Yellowstone National Park. This one receives far fewer visitors.

Chitistone Canyon rocks.

Cheers

Carl

Chitistone, the Goat Trail, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and University Peaks.

Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and University Peaks. Mount Bona stands in the background. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

One gorgeous evening, a 2 mile hike (one-way) from camp and some more photos that I had been hoping for some time now to make. Lucky me!

We just trekked from Skolai Pass, in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, to ‘Wolverine‘, a landing strip high above the Chitistone Valley, over the relatively popular ‘Goat Trail‘. This is a classic hike, and one I try to make every summer. Before I talk about it further, I’ll qualify what I mean by ‘popular’ here.

Probably not 50 people hike this route each year, more likely 40, at most. Consider, for example, that nearly TWO THOUSAND people venture to hike the entire Appalachian Trail each year, and one starts to see that the word ‘popular‘ is entirely contextual. I only say ‘popular‘ here because so few people hike anywhere else in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

We had a real mix of weather on this trip, so I was SUPER lucky to grab such a gorgeous evening here at this location. the clouds dissipated throughout the course of the day, which we spent backpacking across the Goat Trail, a steep sloping scree-sided series of ravines, traversed by a meandering myriad sheep and goat trails; hitting the correct ones makes a huge difference on how easy the traverse is. The ‘wrong’ ones can easily be impassable for people, especially those carrying heavy backpacks. Continue reading