Sunday, September 28, 2008

Traversing the Talkeetna Range

Oshetna River

Nowhere Cr.

Descending into Mazuma Cr

Leaving Nowhere

Yum, Pizza night!

Heather and Raina infront of one of the few Glaciers still left in the Talkeetnas

Nowhere Camp

Our most challenging Pass, full of large boulders and snow

Glacial Erratics are everywhere

Descending into the Kosina

Kelly and Kyle

Amanda traverses over a beaver damn

24 days, 150 miles, 20,000 + ft of elevationi, 5 wolverines, wet boots, numb toes, and a pile of stinky gear. We made it again, a trek across the Talkeetna Range, one of the most stark and beautiful areas in all of the world. If there was a place on earth that resembed Mars it would be the Talkeetnas, deafeningly silent at times, except for the occasional roar a river or buzz of a bush plane, its emptiness is full of rich textures.

This was my third time crossing of these mountains in the last four years. I feel honored to have participated in one more successful Expedition Leadership class at Alaska Pacific University. A unique experience at a unique college, and one of the my favorite trips of all times. Our class consisted of 6 students, one teacher assistant, co-instructor Raina Panareese, and myself. Our packs weighed about 55lbs on average, and we had two food rations flown in at pre-arranged locations.

We started along the Glenn Hwy near Gunsight Mountain, traveled up Caribou Cr, to the Oshetna River drainage. We then moved then crossed the Black river, and pushed our way up the Kosina, and over the Tsisi. We bushedwacked our way accross all 8 miles of Praire Cr. up the bench above the Susitna River and bushwacked our way down the otherside to our destination, Gold Cr. where we flagged down the train at one of the only whistle stops left in the country.
Caribou Cr.

This is a unique upper level course that emphaisizes leadership in the most basic of ways, traveling on foot, with only the most essential things, in an environment that only few have the opportunity see. Each student is required to teach three classes; a skills class, a natural history class, and a leadership class. They take turns leading each other, making decisions for the group and navigating the mountainous terrain, with two instructors , myself and Raina, whom are there to critique. In some ways it is artificial, with the instructors there to interject any dangerous decisions, i.e. river crossings. But... in the end the students have developed their own judgement and we are able to let them travel unaccompanied for the final 6 days. We follow behind almost 24 hours in terrain that would be imposible to stumble upon them, and we must trust that they will be waiting for us at the train. And of course they are.

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