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Scenic spring hike up Gunnysack Creek in the Alaska Range

By Troutnut on May 23rd, 2011
I had always wondered about the little mountain streams feeding into the Delta River along the Richardson Highway on the north side of the Alaska Range, but this is the first time I explored one of them. The topo maps show that they wind back into steep-walled canyons a short distance upstream from the road, and the scenery there did not disappoint.

It was a great trip until my dog found a porcupine!

Photos by Troutnut from Gunnysack Creek, the Delta River, and Bear Creek in Alaska

 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
Taiga looks pretty happy here for a dog with several porcupine quills hanging from her chin. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
Taiga looks pretty happy here for a dog with several porcupine quills hanging from her chin.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From the Delta River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationDelta River
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
I was surprised to find green leaves & flowers on these plants, which were hanging off a rock wall, high up in the mountains where nothing else is really budding yet.  This is purple mountain saxifrage, one of the most cold-tolerant plants there is. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
I was surprised to find green leaves & flowers on these plants, which were hanging off a rock wall, high up in the mountains where nothing else is really budding yet. This is purple mountain saxifrage, one of the most cold-tolerant plants there is.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Bear Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationBear Creek
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
I think this is one of my most interesting portraits of my dog Taiga, although you have to look close to see her! From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
I think this is one of my most interesting portraits of my dog Taiga, although you have to look close to see her!
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
A little bit of glacier hangs along a shady wall in this high canyon in the Alaska Range. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
A little bit of glacier hangs along a shady wall in this high canyon in the Alaska Range.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Bear Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationBear Creek
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
Purple mountain saxifrage. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
Purple mountain saxifrage.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
A quartz boulder embedded in some schist... doesn't it look like a nose? From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
A quartz boulder embedded in some schist... doesn't it look like a nose?
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From the Delta River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationDelta River
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From the Delta River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationDelta River
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From the Delta River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationDelta River
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
Purple mountain saxifrage. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
Purple mountain saxifrage.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
Purple mountain saxifrage. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
Purple mountain saxifrage.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
Purple mountain saxifrage. From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
Purple mountain saxifrage.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3
 From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenMay 23, 2011
Date AddedMay 25, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraDMC-LX3

Most recent comments on this post (latest on top)

JesseMay 25th, 2011, 4:15 pm
Posts: 378
Beautiful!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
Jmd123May 25th, 2011, 2:07 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2010
Having never caught a grayling of any size I would be tempted, but it sounds like you are quite spoiled with fisheries up there. Gold too, huh? That sounds like a nice little bonus, even if you don't find enough to make it worth anything significant. Sounds like my luck with morels here in my new surroundings - I have found a single one twice now, looked around the area for a good half hour and found no more! One each only makes for a tiny appetizer...and I never seem to find them when I am actually looking for them, I always just stumble across them by accident!

Nevertheless, that is some truly beautiful country you've got up there. Thanks for sharing the photos with us!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutMay 25th, 2011, 3:25 am
Administrator
Fairbanks, AK

Posts: 2375
I was really impressed with the saxifrages. There were hardly any buds on the trees, let alone leaves, up at that altitude. You can see everything still looks like spring hasn't started. Yet there the saxifrages are, green and blooming!

There are probably some little grayling in these streams, but I'm not 100% sure. The habitat is there, but some of the waterfalls on this one might prevent upstream passage, and I doubt they can overwinter above the falls. The streams frequently become really turbid with glacial runoff, although I haven't quite figured out when that happens; it seems like one day one will be turbid while the next is crystal clear, and a couple weeks later it's the opposite. This one starts at a glacier and should be pretty consistently turbid, and this is actually the clearest I've ever seen it.

The attractions on this stream are the scenery and the gold. I brought my gold pan along and found a little bit of flour gold, but nothing too exciting. It's a fun thing to do for lovers of small streams in Alaska, where there's not much to fish for in the really small streams except for little grayling. Nobody really goes fishing for little (6-10") grayling, because you can go to one of the bigger streams and still get away from the crowds, and still catch fish almost constantly, only they're much nicer.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123May 25th, 2011, 2:29 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2010
Man, that IS some scenery! WOW! And you got some wildflowers already? I guess spring is finding it's way up there after all! Must be some seriously hardy stuff!! Yeah, those saxifrages are some hard-core boreal plants.

Funny thing about dogs & porcupines, it doesn't seem to be a big deal for them, probably gets us more upset than they do!

Any fishies in those streams or are they too high up and too sterile?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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