Alaska Yak Tours Day-To-Day Itinerary
Food was excellent, the guides accommodating and communicative, the terrain good for hiking, and the route scenic and diverse. -2019 Climber
Maximum Altitude: 5000 ft./1524 m
We’ll meet at 8 a.m. at the Talkeetna Alpine Ascents Office. After completing our gear check we will prepare for our flight to Moon Shadow Lake. This lake lies in the Talkeetna Mountains, with compelling views of the Alaska Range. We meet the yaks and Alpine Ascents team, and enjoy an evening campfire in this wonderland of lakes and tundra. We’ll spend the afternoon hiking in the area and climb to the top of a ridge that over looks the entire Susitna Valley and the Alaska Range.
In the morning, we’ll pack our gear on the yaks and start our trek into the interior of the Talkeetna Mountains. We cross through rolling hills of tundra watching for moose, caribou, bear, beavers and wolves. Feasting on thick patches of blueberries as we travel.
This day starts by descending 200 feet and will finish with 600 feet of elevation gain through the remainder of the day. There will be some light brush and we will be mostly walking on Tundra.
Distance is 5.2 miles / 8.5 Km.
We start the day with our water shoes passing though maizes of beaver dams while crossing small streams and watery meadows. Then we get our trekking shoes back on and work our way up and over rock outcrops to a valley that we ascend to a pass with several lakes. Here we’ll enter an alpine zone of rock with thin patches of tundra and the lakes where we’ll camp.
We travel through some light brush, a gentle water crossing, tundra, and tussocks with a steady and somewhat gradual elevation gain of 1,200 feet.
Distance is 2 miles (3.1 Km)
The fourth day is often a rest day with optional hikes out of camp ranging from easy to moderate. Now that we are near the top of the pass, we’ll have the choice to ascend Spring Peak (the highest peak in local area). This is a moderate scramble with 360-degree views of the Alaska Range, Talkeetna Mountains and Cook Inlet. After the summit, we’ll descend back to camp for lunch. We can venture out in the afternoon to more surrounding peaks with easy access to stunning views of the Alaska Range and the valleys we have traveled over the first three days.
We’ll traverse on the side of the mountains to circumnavigate a low valley that descends to the Talkeetna River. After making our way across three streams we rise over another pass and descend to a remote green valley for camping. This narrow valley is thick with lush green grass and a clear meandering stream that the Yaks love. We refer to it as Yak Camp as our friends are often close by and enjoying all the amenities of this beautiful camp.
This day has some moderately steeper ups and downs on Tundra and Tussocks with creek crossings. There is about 1,100 feet of ascent and 900 feet of descent over the passes.
5.5 miles (about 9 Km).
This day starts with our steepest climb up 800 feet to the top of ‘Yak Pass.’ From the top of the pass we will descend 1,200 feet past alpine lakes nestled on the side of the mountains before crossing through a magnificent valley and climbing our final hill of the trek to Sheep Back Lake (500 feet). This high alpine area is surrounded by beautiful mountains where we have a chance to see Dall sheep, caribou, bear, moose and fox. This day consists of tundra, tussocks and creek crossings.
6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers)
We will have an optional climb of one of the high peaks in the area while we search for wildlife and enjoy this magnificent scenery. This climb gains another 1,300 feet and provides some slightly more challenging terrain.
We’ll fly back from Sheep Back Lake to Talkeetna.
Notes from the Guide:
We will not be following any trail and will be fully in the back country. While we do have established destinations, not being on an established trekking route of any kind is one of the wonderful aspects of this trip. However, walking on tundra and tussocks is a bit like walking on a beach covered in small mounds of sand – it can be a bit tiring. So, while the distances and elevation gains may not seem too arduous, the trek can often be a bit more tiring than expected. A final note is that, depending on other trips, the trekking route may be in reverse.