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> > Scenic spring hike up Gunnysack Creek in the Alaska Range

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

Comments / replies

Jmd123May 25th, 2011, 2:29 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
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?

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
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
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, 2:07 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
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!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
JesseMay 25th, 2011, 4:15 pm
Posts: 378
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.

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