Lake Clark in August

9:39 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I am planning a trip to Lake Clark National Park (it doesn’t have to be Lake Clark but it seems the easiest to get to from Anchorage) and am looking for some local knowledge.

I am planning to spend a week in the backountry early August. I am having a map sent down so I can scout a route. I may purchase a packraft if funds permit me. If I have a packraft I’m sure I would look for a different route than just hiking. I am a moderate kayaker so wouldn’t want to run anything crazy.

If I was hiking, I would want to hike maybe 7 miles per day. So a total of around 50 miles ( I have heard the goings a bit tougher than in the lower 48, is that a feasible distance? I usually like to do an average of 8-12 on trails in the lower 48)

It seems like Telaquana Lake, Turquoise Lake, Twin Lakes, and Snipe Lake and pretty popular. I would be dropped off one spot and piucked up a week later. Obviously I like flora and fauna, and have hiked in Grizzly country before (never alone though!!) None of my mates want to come on this trip so it’s just me. I am an amateur photographer so the chance to get some wildlife and landscape shots would be great. Should I have reservations about travelling alone there (river crossings etc) Thanks, Dave

7:08 p.m. on February 13, 2010 (EST)
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Although Lake Clark is relatively close to Anchorage, it is not the easiest place to get to since it is not connected to the road system. Because of this, a small aircraft is the main way to access the park. I've flown over the park, but never been there before. Looks like a pretty neat area. As it gets closer to you're trip, keep on eye on activity on Mt Redoubt. It erupted quite a bit last year and getting ashed on would probably take some of the fun out of the trip. As for traveling alone in AK, I've done it but try my best to avoid it. As for the hiking, I'm not sure what kind of trail system there is in the park. If there are no trails to follow, getting above the tree line is the way to cover ground in AK. The rivers are the other way. I think many of the rivers there are glacial fed so the water will be extremely cold. Even if the river you’re on doesn’t come from a glacier, there is no such thing as warm water in Ak. Never been to Lake Clark, but I've found the tree line to be between 2000 and 3000 feet in many areas near there with 2500 being the average. Get above 2500 feet and you'll have mostly alpine tundra which makes for much easier hiking and better views, not to mention it greatly reduces the chances of surprising any bears. If you are looking for wildlife shots of bears, August is a good time. Get someplace with a good view of the mountains and look for blueberry patches between 2000 and 3000 above sea level. In August, the leaves of the berry plants will turn red and look like red splotches on the mountain sides. Do a google search and you’ll find some pictures of what you’re looking for. Blueberries typically grow between the tree line and 500 feet above it. If you wait in an area where you can see a lot of berry patches, you will see bears eventually. It will probably be at a distance though so bring a telephoto lens. If you are flexible on the timing of the trip, mid June through early to Mid July would be a good time to go in terms of weather. The days are typically clearer and the days are much longer. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

7:34 p.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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Lake Clark National Park. The most amazing park in Alaska, if I had to say so. I've been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time exploring the Telaquana, Turquoise and Twin Lake's watersheds, and can honestly say they are some of the most amazing, diverse places I've ever hiked, kayaked or rafted.

If I was hiking, I would want to hike maybe 7 miles per day. So a total of around 50 miles ( I have heard the goings a bit tougher than in the lower 48, is that a feasible distance? I usually like to do an average of 8-12 on trails in the lower 48)

Depending on your route finding skills, fitness level and ambition, 5-7 miles per day is pretty fair, but not easy. In the high country above each lake, the hiking is relatively brush free and quite amazing. As you drop down to each lake, the brush increases and your speed will decrease quickly. Avoid the lake shores of Telaquana and Twin Lakes if you can, hiking along them is horrible.

It seems like Telaquana Lake, Turquoise Lake, Twin Lakes, and Snipe Lake and pretty popular. I would be dropped off one spot and piucked up a week later. Obviously I like flora and fauna, and have hiked in Grizzly country before (never alone though!!)

With a week's time, I would focus my energies on a possible traverse between Turquoise and Twin Lake's. You can add a start at Telaquana if you want more miles, but you might want to consider more time. Traversing from Turquoise to Twin, if you include the fly in and fly out days, is a great 7 day adventure. It leaves plenty of time to explore the endless valley's of the area, head up to the headwater glacier of Turquoise Lake, look for wildlife, etc.

None of my mates want to come on this trip so it’s just me. I am an amateur photographer so the chance to get some wildlife and landscape shots would be great. Should I have reservations about travelling alone there (river crossings etc)

Dave, it's pretty big country out there. The rivers are swift and cold, and the wildlife is real. If you use your head, make lots of noise in the brush, and keep an eye out for bears, you should be fine. Depending on your start point and your route, you will have to cross some significant, fast flowing rivers. Remember, cross in the morning when the glacial melt is the lowest, and the rivers will be the most manageable. Scout for the best crossing, even if it takes a significant amount of time. As for wildlife, pick up some bear spray in Anchorage before you fly out to the wilderness. Plan on leaving it in AK, as they don't allow it on commercial flights. It is great for peace of mind. Again, make a lot of noise in the brush, keep a vigilant eye out while traveling, and keep a clean camp. Minimize your attractants, and you should be fine.


Oh, and the photography is unbelievable.

Feel free to email me with any questions.

Aaron

12:25 p.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks a lot for the feedback. I may look at changing flights to come a little earlier. Hopefully I may find a hiking partner but am still planning on going if no one else will come. I have hiked a few backcountry areas in the lower 48 with Grizzlys and know the precausions to take. I believe I would eat, then hike another mile or so and camp if the daylight and route permits it. Hopefully I can get a 1.4x to make my 400mm lens work at nearly 600 so I dont have to get too close to any animal to take good shots. Again thanks for replying, if the feedback from people I have talked to in Alaska is anything to go by, I will certainly enjoy your part of the world, the people are real helpful.

Dave

9:54 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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Aaron,

I checked out your companies website. It truly amazes me that you guys give free advice even though it is your job to guide people in that area. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. If I hear of anyone wanting a guided trip in Alaska I will for sure point them in your direction.

Your advice was great and I will check out the areas you proposed. I had a map sent down from Alaska Geographic (they seem like a cool company that gives back to the wilderness).

Again thank you and I can't wait to head out there, as I am stuck in the flatlands of the midwest.

Dave

6:18 p.m. on February 20, 2010 (EST)
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Where in the Midwest are you from by the way?

8:54 a.m. on February 22, 2010 (EST)
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I'm in Chicago, but hail from Scotland. The hiking there is great, but the only critters you need to be wary of are the midgies and horse flies!!

5:12 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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The more I talk to people the more they say the first backpacking trip in Alaska should be guided. I have flights coming in on July 31st and leaving 9th August. Do you guys do any custom trips around then? I could always change it up and come on one of your trips though.

What do you think?

10:07 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I was there last August. I flew (Lake Clark Air) from anchorage to Port Alsworth and a Float plane to Twin Lakes. I didn't back pack but visited Dick Proenekes cabin at twin lakes. great color then and good weather.

August 20, 2014
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