Granite Creek

Granite Creek in the Talkeetnas lies betwixt Granite Peak and Lava Mountain. Here goes a story of an overwhelming and complete failure where Sawyer Huffman and I spent 4 days covering a grand total of 8 miles in Granite Creek.

This trip started off as an attempt to climb/ski some peaks in the headwaters of Granite Creek. The largest problem with this plan is that in reality, there was a severe lack of snow/ice bridges and ledges in Granite Creek. We became keenly aware of this fact when on the first day when we had to shovel off a series of narrow ice ledges on a cliff corner in order to shuttle gear (including a sled) past the constriction. We continued onward for another two days with the idea that as we moved upstream into the mountains, it would be a colder environment and Granite Creek would freeze over and provide an expedient path forward. On the second day, the creek skinnied up into a canyon. The hydraulics of this weren’t helping the river freeze and at the end of the day we became confined to the east side of the river after forcing our way through alder forests and making only 3 miles progress. On the third day, we continued in the canyon and had to weave around rock mazes on an erosional cut bank. This was excruciatingly slow, especially with the sled. After 0.8 miles, we arrived at the first major off-flow drainage from Lava Mountain. Apparently there is some level of geothermal activity taking place (not hot springs you’d want to soak in, but something a respectable amount higher than 32oF). Green growth was growing and a patch of still water wasn’t freezing. At this point we recognized that further upstream travel would be futile and made plans to hightail it out the next day. The fourth day ended in the dark, but we successfully reversed the 8 miles and were back at the highway. What can be credited, however, is that even in this demoralizing circumstance (0.8 miles progress in a full day’s labor!!) Sawyer and I persevered and maintained high spirits.

I normally wouldn’t bother sharing about a trip that was both unglamorous and unsuccessful, but I feel like it is good information for anyone planning a venture up Granite Creek to at least be aware of. This was a good test of character and morale for us. We were thankful to have water on tap for the whole trip and we derived an embarrassing level of pleasure pigging out on a giant bag of trail mix. If the outside world ever knew how much trail mix we consumed those three nights while rolled up in -40 sleeping bags for 16 hours at a time, they would never be able to look at us the same.

December 26th 2020 (day 1)

December 27th 2020 (day 2)

December 28th 2020 (day 3)

(it appears I have no photos of the cut bank’s rock maze. Maybe its for the best that I don’t have to relive that agony)

December 29th 2020 (day 4)

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