is the place we were trying to ultimately get to, but a new,
larger river channel cut through and hindered our progress.
The trail head was
about a 2-3 mile excursion down a roadway composed of rock, some
light mud-holes, and multi-thousand year old glacial silt that
twisted and turned it's way down to the river bed. At the end of
the entrance trail, we were awestruck at the vastness of the river
valley. Thousands upon thousands of square miles ( most of it
completely accessable) of dry river bed, minor hills, river
crossings, mud holes, water holes, and trailheads that lead to the
surrounding mountains, and near the Knik Glacier.
1st water hazard of the day, solid bottom but a little deep.
lead dog gets the braggin' rights to "1st stuck of the day."
Here, RD stands on the Glacial quicksand with no problems. But for
the 4600 lb. truck it was a different story.
swear somebody swapped off my 31's for a smaller tire while I was
some shovels and elbow grease I was able to back right out.
We came across what
seemed to be an impassable flood area. Judging by the other areas
we had crossed earlier, we were afraid of the typical murky bottom
associated with such flooded areas. So, on went the hip boots (a
wonderful accessory in the Alaskan backwoods. We acquired an old
broken stick to measure depth and to measure bottom. To our
surprise, the bottom was a firm gravel/rocky type. On the down
side, the water was almost over my boots before I could get
halfway across. This may have spelled trouble for RD in his stock
Cherokee. We decided to chance it since J and I knew we could
easily make it. We tied on the tow strap to RD's rig just in case
he did not make it. RD is the most inexperienced of our group and
seemed to like to plow through every obstacle at Warp 9.9, even
with coaching from the last stream crossing. Well with luck we all
made it through unscathed and it was onto the mountains. We
reached the base and decided to try to go further after setting up
Now at this time I
did not have the nifty use of a GPS unit to tell how high that we
got on the mountain trail. Well...if you want to call it a trail.
We set off for the mountainside, via a goat trail, complete with
paint scratching, mirror breaking shrubbery on both sides. We
traveled back and forth, sometimes making our own path through the
tight turns. We reached about 5-600 feet up, I would imagine, when
we realized that loss of paint was too much to yield. After all,
I can't afford a new paint job and the hardware store is out of my
favorite can of Krylon . Of course, living in our democratic
society it seems I am always voted in as lead dog. Naturally, I am
the one clearing path and receiving the most harm. So we decide to
call it a night and start fresh in the morning to attempt a
different assault to another Glacier site.
the King shows just what Bigger tire dia. and a 4" lift does
when compared to the stock XJ. I've still got a good 6" of
clearance till my frame would scrape.
we were plagued by water crossing on this trip, mostly caused by
the excessive snowfall from the winter. We ran into lots of mud
and runoff flooded areas.
the end of the day's wheeling, I snapped this pic for all you "lower
48'ers" This is an Alaskan sunset at around 1:30 am. ( NO
JOKE) In the land of the Midnight Sun you can wheel all day and
all night if you wish. Sleep when you're tired, eat when hungry,
and wheel wheel wheel, 'cause it's almost never dark.
We begin our journey
by contacting family and friends listed above from the Greater
Anchorage area. We assembled early so that we could begin our day
with great enthusiasm. The site of exploration was about a 20-30
mile drive from Anchorage. It was the middle of May and the
temperature was around 60 degrees F. After a quick stop at the
local fill-up station to top off the tanks and the reserves, we
grabbed the necessities ( Twinkies, Ho-Ho's and other
miscellaneous non-perishable items) and were on the road.
lineup of our safari. From left: Roger Dodger's '91 stock XJ,
KingB's '88 Comanche MJ, and J-boy's '86 S-10.
To access the prime dry bed "Glacial
sand" mini-dunes you must be prepared for some minor water
crossingr or you may follow the extinct bed lines to the base of
the mountain trailheads. Whatever your pleasure, you will be sure
to find something that you like as far as wheeling goes. With the
exception of major major pucker factor rockcrawling, I find this
area to be appealing to all I have invited along.
We began our day by
trying to make it across the basin ( about 2-3 miles in my best
judgment) which would enable us to possibly reach a small glacier
foot after first making a small stream crossing. After crossing we
aired down for some play in the mini-dunes. We hit a snag about
halfway across the basin. I was lead dog with the old trusty MJ
and by far the most able and agile rig of our small group. We were
tooling along aimlessly when all of the sudden
I was immediately sucked under and buried to the axle housings in
some Arctic Glacial quicksand. Now I must stop and explain for all
you non-Alaskans to understand this concept fully. The sand looks
like hard packed moist sand. In fact the average Joe-Schmo 6'2",
200 lb. individual can walk on it with little or no trouble at
all. This is partly what we had been running on the whole time.
Only difference is that you stop abruptly, not by choice. When in
a 4500 lb. 4x4, you immediately think to oneself " Uh-oh"
or some other appropriate word that one prefers in the instance of
the "immediately buried" occasion. You may be saying to
yourself at this point..."Well Mr. King - B, you must be an
idiot for breaking rule #1 of off-roading. Which is? TO KNOW YOUR
TERRAIN B E F O R E
..YOU DRIVE IT !" Honestly,
you can not tell you are in trouble until you are at a dead stop,
having plowed into the sticky, gooey, suction-cup like substance.
So, we broke out the trusty
shovels and tow straps. After about 20 minutes of digging I was
able to back right out of the goo with only a small human push
from my two colleagues. OK, back on track. We staked out the area
further, hiking almost half a mile. Unable to find a safer route
of passage to the other side of the river basin, we gave up and
headed back towards the mountain trailheads.
makes it through the 2nd water hazard no problem and right up a
A bit too much on the throttle. No worries and no broken
swoops through the small water crossing...
to high center himself in the middle of his frame. A few pushes
from the J-ster backed him off.
some shovels and elbow grease I was able to back right out.
makes his way through the Flooded trail.