Tag Archives: Goat Trail

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

Usain Bolt and Wrangell St. Elias

5 intrepid backpackers do 'usain bolt' after crossing the Goat Trail, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

5 intrepid backpackers do 'Usain Bolt' after crossing the Goat Trail, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Click the thumbnail to really see this classic photo.

Hey Folks,

It doesn’t get much better than this: 5 Usain Bolts in one photo! We’d just hiked across the infamous ‘Goat Trail’, of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, on our Skolai – Wolverine backpacking trek. The weather was awesome this particular afternoon, and what greater tribute to such a place could there be than the great Usain Bolt pose?

From your left, Chuck, Bret, Les, Carl and Rod.

In the background, the University Range and Mt Bona, 4th highest peak in the US.

The Goat Trail is a special walk for me – my first hike in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve was down the Chitistone valley, from Skolai Pass to Glacier Creek; across the scree slopes known as ‘the Goat Trail’. Every time I walk it again it blows me away; absolutely an amazing trek. This year we had a mix of weather, and were blessed to have such a gorgeous day for our hike over the steep and nasty Goat Trail.

Why the Usain Bolt pose? Because Usain is awesome, that’s why. And, ya gotta admit, it makes a cool photo, eh?

Cheers

Carl