Exploring Campbells Creek ‘Canyon’ (Alaska, USA)

Party: Felix Ossig-Bonanno
When first looking at topo maps to decide on walks to do, I had seen this canyon marked on the map. I wasn’t expecting a slot canyon but more of a gorge and planned a route that would link a few things together.
I had attempted this trip the day before but poor weather had forced me to cut it short. There had been no visibility in the mountains and combined with the wet and wind there hadn’t seemed any point to continue.
So it was on this much sunnier day that I began my cycle to the trail head. The day before I had seen lots of moose: One had been hindering traffic on a major road, another with two calves had startled me in Red Bridge Park and a fifth meant a bushwack to avoid getting the living daylights stomped out of me – there was a sign that actually said this 😉 But today I didn’t see any at all.I cycled through the floating cottonwood seeds, gradually gaining altitude through the birch that hid the ever increasing presence of the spruce that soon became prevalent on the higher slopes. Looking up at the mountains I realised that I wasn’t familiar enough with them to even point out my route, but I had time to muse, and eventually figured things out.
I locked up my borrowed bike, and retracing my steps from yesterday, started up Wolverine Peak. Occasionally peering upwards, I was disheartened to see the peak still cloaked in cloud, but also noted that the cloud was moving quite quickly and would hopefully continue to rise. A few people coming down said it was “very foggy” but by the time I was at theplane wreck I could see the sunny peak above me!

Looking up towards Wolverine Peak. Some of the strange affect can be attributed to me experimenting with taking photos through my sunglasses
Plane wreckage with the somewhat empty Turnagain Arm in the background (apparently named by Captain Cook on his search for the Great North Passage – “turn again”).
 I pulled out some food for lunch at the top. I was amazed by the views looking up into the mountains and very happy I had returned!
A guy named Pete took a photo of me at the top of Wolverine Peak.

I returned down the track part way before veering off towards Near Point. Walking on a spongy carpet of interwoven reds, greens and whites I dropped down into the ‘canyon’ that, to me, was more of a valley. Bumble bees were flying around detecting the electric signal from numerous pollinators using their vibrating hairs, other insects were more of a nuisance.
The track that was marked was nowhere I could see it and I decided not to cross the stream and continue across the terrain that was quite simple to navigate.

I continued to hear (and occasionally see) small animals that reminded me of Meerkats. When I actually spotted them they were often standing upon rocks on their hind legs, sending out a screech to warn the rest of their family (or so I presume). Most of the time I never saw them but I always felt watched. Later, I found that these were probablyChipmunks a type of Ground Squirrel.

As I reached the end of the valley walking along what I think was a moraine, it felt more constricted with steep cliffs on one side. It was a very nice spot and I stopped at Long Lake for afternoon tea enjoying my surroundings as I munched.

The head of the valley surprised me, the formations weren’t anything like what I was used to. As I rounded the lake, two cirque came into view and continuing up along a series of lakes (on some maps collectively named Williwan Lakes – but others have lakes individually named) I startled a large beaver looking animal that I now think might have been aMarmot.
There were also numerous sea gulls. I thought they might be nesting especially when one flew over my repetitively making noises I interpreted at ‘stay away’! But never actually saw a nest.

Amazing patterns created by moss and an accompanying backdrop.

As I reached the watershed I picked up a track – I guess more people make return trips up the valley I was descending.
One large elevated lake had a large rock looming above it. For some reason it reminded me of the Lion King and I could visualise a proud cat upon the point.

I dropped into the valley passing a series of short falls. Making better time (a combination of downhill and trail) I passed a few people setting up tents. I think I will bring a tent and camp out here on my next trip, it was a truly spectacular spot!

I trudged along my feet beginning to sore. I was getting groggy and by the time I pulled in on my bike was extremely wearing. The trip had taken 14hrs but if you have a car you could take a bit off making it a awesome day trip!

Total distance ~38miles
Total Time ~14hrs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *