RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rubikon Adventure Quest 2011: Part 2 - Donjek Route (June 27 - July 6)

This is Part 2 of our experience from hiking the Donjek Route in Kluane Park during a 10 day period from June 27 thru July 6, 2011. There were 3 of us in our party (GrizzLee, Yukon Johann and Bighorn).  This hike was truly the pinnacle of our experiences. It is a very rewarding experience and now a personal favorite. The scenery alone is overwhelming. Words and pictures cannot capture the emotional experience. It is a hard hike and physically challenging. But more than that, it was also a mental challenge and a real test of personal fortitude.

Note: Before attempting this kind of adventure, please read the note from the Kluane Park Service found in Part 1 of the Donjek Adventure Blog.

 Read the blog and see the videos here:

In Part 1, we breifly described our experience around Hoge Pass. This is a view looking back up Hoge Creek as it drains from the glaciers around Hoge Mountain.
At camp that night it snowed. Yukon Johann is all snug and warm for the night.
In the morning, the fog began to roll in and the snow began melting.
After we made the very challenging descent down to Hoge Creek, we had to change out our boots for sandals. We had to cross the creek numerous times and even hike on slippery ice.
Scenes like this were common throughout the day. I believe we crossed Hoge Creek 12 times.
After a long and ardous day of bushwaking, we finally got close to the Donjek glacier. It was the payoff for our pain and suffering. Little did we know that the horrendous bushwacking was a sign of things to come.
This was one of the views of the glacier from our camp that evening.
I don't believe a more spectacular view and weather could be found anywhere else on the planet that day. It was warm and scenic and very little bug activity.
 Yukon Johann and GrizzLee posing for a picture. Unbelievably, we were still smiling after the long day in bush.
The next day..... the big payoff for all of our efforts.
The Donjek glacier goes back some 40 miles into the heart of the Kluane icefields.

The combined ice mass of both Kluane and Wrangle-St Elias mountian ranges represent the largest, non-polar, ice mass in the world. Here is was... all spread out in front of us. A smorgasborgh of ice, snow and mountain rising to nearly 20,000 feet!
Bighorn took a hike down to the glacier. Like a where's Waldo picture puzzle, see if you can find him (Click to enlarge the photo).

There he is! 
 After we left the snout of the glacier we had to hike along it towards the Bighorn River.
The desolate area looked like a moonscape form some weird science fiction movie. We hiked endless hours in an area nearly devoid of plants. AND yet, we saw numerous grizzly bear and wolf tracks. Sometimes the tracks would criss-cross each other out here. It was a surreal experience. The reason for these desert-like conditions is due to the fact that the glacier receedes and surges like a yo-yo. Sometimes blocking the valley and creating a lake behind it. Unfortunatley, due to global climate changes, the Donjek and other glaciers like it are receeding.

In part 3 we will show more of our adventure and challenges as we had to cross the Bighorn River, climb a steep pass and descend down nearly cliff-like scree into ice laden creeks. We've come up with our own definitions of Stream, Creeks, Rivers, Lakes and Oceans by the the way we are able to cross them.

Adventure Hikers Definitions:
Stream - Easily stepped across.
Creek - Can be forded individually or may require a human chain to cross.
River - Must be swum to cross.
Lake - Must be paddled to cross.
Ocean - Body of water that can't be crossed in one day.

In Part 3 we will see if we step across, ford, swim or paddle. In any event, the adventure has turned a challenging  corner.

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