Death and adventure on the Toklat River

After ignoring the park for much of July, I decided to switch up my recreation time in August, and got out for a few good hikes.  Besides, recently one of my employees came in to my office one day, telling me how excited he was about his adventure in the park the day before – 15 hours (with bus rides), a long day hike, and an amazing amount of animals.  That inspired me to get out and try to do the same.

So exactly why wasn’t I hiking in the park more?  Good question.  Time to go out and find out what I’d been missing!

After 2.5 hours on the bus (one of the reasons hikes in the park can seem like too much trouble!), I got off at Toklat River.  I hiked about 3.5 miles from the road, then started making my way up an unnamed peak.

About halfway up the peak, above the Toklat River drainage. I’m pretty psyched about this image – I think it’s one of my finest landscape shots. I love the interplay of the light, shadows and the rain.

I really can’t decide if I like the color or B&W version better. What do you think?

For the most part, this wasn’t a difficult hike – nothing technical.  However, it had multiple “false summits” so that got a bit frustrating.  But throughout the hike I was rewarded with incredible views, and a few Dall sheep were nearby.

With the weather looking sketchy, I decided to shoot my “summit shot” in case I couldn’t go any higher, about 3/4 of the way up.

After a brief rest, I pushed on, which I’m very glad for!  Although it was raining lightly, the reward was very worth it.  Views of larger peaks and glaciers, and the whole mountain beneath me.

The top! From here it’s all downhill, including a 90 minute slog through soaking wet 6 foot tall willows.

So what had I been missing?  Well, dramatic light for sure.  These shots are all about the dramatic light – the beams of light shooting through the clouds and interacting with the rain.  NICE!

A bit of a postscript – I did this hike on Friday August 17.   On Saturday August 25 I came home from a multi-day trip to find out that a solo backpacker was killed by a grizzly bear the day before in Toklat River, very close to where I hiked.  Yikes!  Events like that give one pause, for sure.

Not that I’m going to stop hiking solo!  (sorry Mom)