Trail Dispatch – Over the Waterfall



nancy_rocks.jpgCoordinates: 66.24.553 N, 65.28.670 W
Distance Traveled: 7 mi / 11 km
Wind: 30 MPH, gusting 45-50 MPH / 48 KPH, gusting 72-80 KPH
Cloud Cover: Low lying clouds all day
Sunrise: 6:31 a.m.
Sunset: 6:31 p.m.

 

We anticipated challenging travel, but nothing could have prepared us for what we saw on trail today! Sometime close to noon our flat meandering river gave way to a boulder-filled series of cascading waterfalls. We had heard about these so-called ‘waterfalls’ but I, for one, imagined them being a little less dramatic. In fact, the latest report we had received from the National Parks office described the section as ‘a series of ramps’ and ‘definitely passable.’ Approaching the start of falls, however, it looked more like we approached a vertical wall of rock.

Pushing and pulling a sled over the waterfall. Click Here to watch 1.11 Mb

teampush_small.jpgWe began anyway, scouting the climb and picking out the best possible routes for the dog teams. Footing was tough with wind- blown glare ice and loose sand mixed with snow, and there was plenty of slipping and sliding on the descent. The river wound down through a steep, narrow canyon, sprinkled with huge boulders, under the looming shadow of tall rocky spires on both sides. The low cloud cover gave the whole valley an ominous feel.

As soon as we reached the bottom again, Simon gave a cry and his dogs lurched forward. We followed behind, pushing, pulling, yanking, hollering, slipping, falling and kneeling to join the dogs in their heroic efforts up the river. After reaching a good stopping place, we left Simon’s team and went back for the others, bringing all three to the same spot before continuing forward. We continued this way, traveling a half mile to the top of the falls over the course of five hours.

Our relief at reaching the top of the falls was short-lived as we rounded the corner and felt the wind. Gusting up to 50 miles an hour, the wind kicked up sand and snow caking everything with a fine layer of grit. Nervous on the wind-blown ice, the dogs had to be led with a leash to keep them from running the sleds into the rocks on shore. The gusts were so fierce that several of us were blown back into the team as we tried in vain to run ahead and lead the dogs. We camped later than usual, close to 6:30 p.m., and in a less than ideal camp spot. Barely out of the wind, our tents rose like kites as we tried to set them up. The dogs found some relief nestled into their beds for the night on the sandy shoreline. The rest of us will be using our ear plugs tonight to get some much-needed sleep in the midst of this gale.

One tired puppy signing out…

Abby

 

valley.jpg teampush.jpg

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