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Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

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Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby steelfrog » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:00 pm

Hello friends. Getting a little more serious about planning for the Alaska trip for next summer (2014). Originally was thinking about wrangell/st. Elias. Now am leaning more toward either gates of the arctic or katmai. Gates of the arctic the biggest attraction to me is the arrigetch, but getting to them appears to be An expensive proposition.

Anyway, anyone have advice about the relative merits of each for 2 people on a mild budget? We want to do backcountry camping and scrambling etc if possible. Bears sightings would be a plus

Many thanks!

Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby bergsteigen » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:16 pm

Katmai - hands down. Much more to do nearby, less mosquitoes, more scenic too. Lots of options both by land and by sea. Taking a cruise to see parts of Katmai is one of the highlights of my 5 years living in Alaska. Travel to Gates is going to be half the adventure, since no rental car will allow you to drive the Haul Road, and for good reason. I've driven it twice, and not with my personal vehicle - heck no! Dangerous, long and boring would be my description of that road. So you would have to charter a plane, which up the price significantly.
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby steelfrog » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:39 pm

Thanks a bunch!

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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby Scott P » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:01 pm

Which time of year?

If in June, go to Katmai. In August or early September go to Gates of the Arctic.
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby steelfrog » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:04 pm

Most likely mid to late July

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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby Scott P » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:12 am

Doable, but not prime season for either, at least if hiking/climbing is the main theme of your trip. Late July tends to be super rainy for Katmai and peak mosquito season in the Gates of the Arctic.

If you have a choice you want mid June to early July for Katmai and August-early September for Gates of the Arctic.
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby hotrod » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:31 pm

I backpacked Katmai in the second week of June a few years ago, in the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. No mosquitoes yet, some snow still on the ground, weather lousy, one of the group got hypothermia from the rain and cold. BUT, there were no other people on the trail, and we only saw one brown bear, although some tracks were next to our tents in the morning. The necessary river crossing had big blocks of ice floating down from the mountains and made for a frigid crossing. If you go in June, be prepared for the elements.
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby Scott P » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:43 pm

If you go in June, be prepared for the elements.


This is very true, but it's even wetter as summer progresses (August averages twice the amount of precip as June). Mid June to early July is considered to be prime season for southern coastal Alaska (and for the Southeast), at least if you can tolerate some snow. There usually is some snow around, but it's drier then (drier being a relative term; the region is very wet; go prepared for very wet weather). Climate summary from noaa.gov:
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby steelfrog » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:56 pm

Hmm. It's beginning to sound like Gates of the Arctic might be the better option; August. Does anybody know if we're talking substantially more expensive to get a bush flight from Fairbanks to the Arrigetch, as compared with the multiple flights to Brooks Camp from Anchorage for Katmai? My impression is that Gates of the Arctic is quite a bit more pricey but I may be wrong. Many thanks!

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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby Scott P » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:49 pm

Does anybody know if we're talking substantially more expensive to get a bush flight from Fairbanks to the Arrigetch


I have not been to the Arrigetch Peaks, but I do have information on the area, mostly geared towards climbing.

According to the information I have you actually fly Fairbanks to Bettles (currently $180 RT) and then catch a flight from there rather than to catch a bush flight all the way from Fairbanks.

I have no idea how much a bush flight from Bettles to Circle Lake is in the Arrigetch Peaks, but it won't be cheap. Bush flights in Alaska never are, especially if they leave from remote areas.

I would contact one of the Bettles bush plane services directly. This one for example takes people to the Arrigetch Peaks:

http://www.bettleslodge.com/new/air_service.html

For the central and east sides of the park, my information says that late June and August-early September is best, but it also says that for the Arrigetch Peaks July is also OK, but with clouds of mosquitoes.
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby planet54 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:11 pm

I went to the Arrigetch Peaks way back in mid August 1983. Bugs were not a problem, the fall colors were great and there were ripe blueberries to be had by the handful.I'd say go that time of the year if you can.Our route took us up Arrigetch Creek where we based for several days,then we went back down the valley and crossed a pass to Aiyagomahala Creek and finally picked up at Takahula Lake.10 days in all.I agree that you should take a commercial flight to Bettles and then arrange for a float plane.Best climb possibility is Ariel,6685 feet, unless you want to do some hardcore stuff.
I would have replied sooner but I just returned to Fairbanks a few hours ago from a trip to ANWR, The Marsh Fork of the Canning River. Consider a trip there too,it is truly one of the neatest places that I have ever been.We used Wright Air Services and they did everything just as they said they would.

The horn shaped peak is Ariel. Not my picture
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Re: Alaska--katmai or gates of the arctic?

Postby peter303 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:19 pm

How many times have you been to Alaska before? If this is your first time then car camping from the major roads is ane conomical way to get acqainted with the south central part of the state and do it at lower cost. Otherwise you can go into the bush on subsequent trips.

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