Sunday, July 1, 2012

AlaskaCross

From an email:


AlaskAcross 12:
Bob Gillis:          2da. 5hr. 44mn. (Wildermeister, AKX 12)
C. Roman Dial:      3da. 9hr. 20mn.
Mark Ross: scratched at 18hr. 20mn.

Weather conditions were near perfect for the entire duration of the event: temp 45F to 55F, high overcast to partly cloudy, dry air, ~nil biting insects.
high water provided efficient paddling in creeks and rivers, participants reported good moose and caribou trails.  late remaining snow fields/patches provided good footing above ~3500'.
Finish accomodations at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse are near plush: very comfortable bunkhouse, great hospitality by the Roadhouse owners (Harvel and Tina). Also, a possible mid-point termination station, the MaClaren River Lodge (proprietors Alan and Suzy), is friendly and hospitable.
-mark


Here's a bit of a trek log: AlaskAcross 12 (AKX 12) by Mark Ross:
Bob Gillis and Mark Ross met near the AKX 12 start area, old Denali, on Saturday, June 16. Finding no others in near vicinity and with the start impending in 1hr, they drove together in Ross' car searching for other wayward AlaskAcrossers. Finding no others within ~5mi north on the mining road, they planned to trek together, rather than compete, to explore AKX 12 terrain. Then, a man in a dry suit was sighted, reconoitering a swollen creek crossing. He was C. Roman Dial.  Quickly fording the stream on foot,  Dial shook hands and announced his intention of traversing the entire AlaskAcross12 route regardless of how many others participated. Within minutes, Dial took off south on the swollen Susitna River paddling a packraft. Ross and Gillis sent him off with the message not to dally for they would join in and make it a competition.  Setting out quickly overland on an easterly route, Gillis and Ross headed into the Clearwater Mountains. So, AKX 12 was on, with the three participants trekking as solo competitors. Dial's position in the country would remain unknown to Gillis and Ross until his arrival at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse finish area three days later, but he carried a "spot" transmitter which sent his position to computer-linked friends in Anchorage.
Gillis and Ross, traveling in proximity, traversed the narrow Roseveldt pass, intermitently following atv and caribou trails while traversing high snow fields and snow patches. In the high point of the pass a loping wolverine trail was followed for a mile. A day or two earlier the big mustelid had plowed a loping trail through new snow. Surprizingly, except for the wolvervine trail, no track or sign of large predators was seen through the pass; no sign of wolf or bear. Once across the pass, caribou and moose trails led through willow and birch shrub to the western headwater branch of Clearwater Creek. Down stream a few miles a small tributary contributed, and the creek was swollen well above cobble and bank. Gillis annouced his intention of paddling east to Clearwater Creek and down (south) to the Denali highway, then to negotiate his way overland to the Ahtna Plateau mountains south of the hwy (Alphabet Hills). Ross shared his intention of paddling east and assessing the next high pass east to the west fork of the MaClaren River. Thus, the three AlaskAcrossers planned to negotiate separate ~100 routes to the finish. Gillis was on the creek and floating with about a 5min head start. Ross, to his surprise, did not catch Gillis on that headwater creek. Gillis' position in the country would remain unknown until his finish two days later at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse.
In final summary, Ross did not go overland east to MaClaren west fork river, but continued paddling the swollen and fast Clearwater creek south to the Denali hwy. He then continued on foot south of the highway. After ~10mi of overland travel southeasterly, Ross scratched from the event in the early morning hours of Sunday. He backtracked to the MaClaren River Lodge, all the while amid the dawn chorus of boreal songbirds: Ross scratched at 18hr. 20mn of AKX 12. 
Gillis walked south to the mountains, then east to dickey lake, paddled the Gulkana and walked to the finish: 2da. 5hr. 44mn, thus earning the title of first arrival and Wildermeister of AKX 12. 
Dial paddled the Susitna south to the mountains then continued overland (hampered by a high thigh injury sustained early) east to Dickey Lake, then paddled the Gulkana from the white water outlet and finished with an 8mi walk to finish: 3da. 9hr. 20mn.   At the finish, Meiers Lake Roadhouse,  hospitality was plentiful: food, drink, a bunkhouse and friendly folks.
-Mark Ross,  June 24 2012
Gillis carried a camera and there may be photos in thursday's newsminer.

More details later

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