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Packrafting Wrangell-St. Ellias National Park. Nothing better.

The Route: After bush plane drop-off at Skolai Pass, we descended tundra to the Frederika Glacier. Five miles of hiking of the relatively tame Frederika Glacier then led us to to a snowy 6000-foot pass. It eventually descends to some prime bush-whacking down to the Rhon, Regal, and Nizina glaciers. After hours of slogging through relentless fields of glacial talus, we descended to Skolai Creek which perpindicularly slammed into the side of the Nizina Glacier, attempting to undercut it. A quick, splashy, and iceberg ridden float out to the Nizina Lake led to 20 miles of prime Alaskan packrafting back to civilization.

Exploring The Middle of Nowhere Alaska — Wrangell-St. Ellias

Photo essay by Erik Bernhoft.

In 2018, Erik Bernhoft and three friends flew to Anchorage, Alaska, drove seven hours (two of which were on a 60-mile dirt road) to the middle of nowhere where they boarded a bush plane and flew another 30 minutes into REALLY REALLY the middle of nowhere to Wrangell-St. Ellias National Park.

Bush plane landing at Skolai Pass.  What have we gotten ourselves in to???  20 minutes later we had a Grizzly Bear encounter.
Bush plane landing at Skolai Pass. What have we gotten ourselves into??? Twenty minutes later we had a Grizzly Bear encounter.

The Route

After a bush plane drop-off at Skolai Pass, the group descended tundra to the Frederika Glacier. Five miles of hiking on the relatively tame Frederika Glacier led them to to a snowy 6000-foot pass. It eventually descended to some prime bush-whacking down to the Rhon, Regal, and Nizina glaciers.

After hours of slogging through relentless fields of glacial talus, the team descended to Skolai Creek. It perpendicularly slams into the side of the Nizina Glacier, attempting to undercut it. Finally, a quick, splashy, and iceberg ridden float out to the Nizina Lake led to 20 miles of prime Alaskan packrafting and back to civilization!

The Route: After bush plane drop-off at Skolai Pass, we descended tundra to the Frederika Glacier.  Five miles of hiking of the relatively tame Frederika Glacier then led us to to a snowy 6000-foot pass. It eventually descends to some prime bush-whacking down to the Rhon, Regal, and Nizina glaciers.  After hours of slogging through relentless fields of glacial talus, we descended to Skolai Creek which perpindicularly slammed into the side of the Nizina Glacier, attempting to undercut it.  A quick, splashy, and iceberg ridden float out to the Nizina Lake led to 20 miles of prime Alaskan packrafting back to civilization.
The Skolai-Nizina Packraft Traverse is a A 50-mile, off trail, wilderness traverse in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
5 miles of ascending the low angle, easy going Frederika Glacier.
Five miles of ascending the low angle, easygoing Frederika Glacier.
Ascending the Tundra to Frederika Pass.
Ascending the Tundra to Frederika Pass.
The 1.5-mile wide Nizina Glacier works its magic.
The 1.5-mile wide Nizina Glacier works its magic.
The Nizina Lake at the toe of glacier is broken into two sections, divided by ice that demands a 1 mile portage of an abandoned meander. We thought we were done carrying these packs, but alas, no.   This photo represents the moment when the Alpacka started carrying the weight for good.
The Nizina Lake at the toe of glacier is broken into two sections, divided by ice that demands a one-mile portage of an abandoned meander. We thought we were done carrying these packs, but alas, no.  This photo represents the moment when the Alpacka started carrying the weight for good.
Paddling the Nizina Lake, happy to be there but oh so hungry and tired.  Ready for camp in a bad way.
Paddling the Nizina Lake, happy to be there, but oh so hungry and tired. We were ready for camp in a bad way.
Paddling away from Chimney Mountain, the Nizina Glacier, and the Icefields of Wrangell-St. Elias NP.
Paddling away from Chimney Mountain, the Nizina Glacier, and the Icefields of Wrangell-St. Ellias National Park.
The Skolai-Nizina Packraft Traverse is a A 50-mile, off trail, wilderness traverse in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. You must travel over glacier, through scrub & scree, and down the Nizina River to get back to civilization.
You must travel over glacier, through scrub and scree, and down the Nizina River to get back to civilization.
Packrafting Wrangell-Ellias NP.  Nothing better.
Packrafting Wrangell-St. Ellias National Park. Nothing better.

Check out more of Bernhoft’s photos on his website.