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Savage-Sanctuary..

Last year Tom, Joel, and I floated the classic Savage-Sanctuary loop in Denali NP, and had a great time, though it was super wet. I had been hoping to do that loop again, and finding myself with a Sunday free of commitments, headed to Denali to do it again, with Erica, Heike, Joel, and Tom. In a nutshell, the plan was to do the loop as a ~12 hour day trip, camping at the Denali NP entrance so we could get an early start, driving in to mile 10 or so and parking at the Mountain View trailhead, hiking up Savage River, crossing over to the Sanctuary River, floating to the park road, and hopefully hit the 7pm bus back. The day started out looking a bit wet, but as we drove down the park road to start our trip the rain held off, and we managed to avoid the rain. The hike up Savage River and over to Sanctuary was fantastic – great walking..

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.. Lots of flowers…

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We didn’t see much wildlife, just some birds, including an very irritated raptor/hawk, a few ground squirrels, and a couple of moose seen from the bus and the road. I caught a brief glimps of a caribou as it crossed the stream behind us, but everyone else was a bit too slow to turn around and missed it – and thus was accused of imagining it. We did see lots of remains, though, and the first sheep horn set I have seen in the wild.

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Eventually we reached the Sanctuary River, inflated, and headed back to the park road. The water was fairly high, and we had a huge tail wind blowing us downriver. This section of the Sanctuary River is pretty mellow, with a few rocks, and as we got closer to the road, a tiny bit of wood – pretty mellow for the most part, but nice and scenic.

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I think the total distance was 16 miles of hiking, and 14 miles of floating. We made it out for the 6:30 bus back to the Mountain View trailhead, with ample time to enjoy burgers at the 49th state brewery.

The is a fantastic trip, and highly recommended. We did it as a ~11hour day trip, with a fairly mellow hiking pace, and high and fast water on Sanctuary River. It could take more or less time, depending on water conditions and how fast one walks. It is also possible to do it as an overnight, but it requires a backcountry permit, which is hit and miss. That would be a great option if you don’t mind all the extra work overnighting in Denali entails, and don’t mind doing something else if the units are full up.

A huge thanks to Heike, Tom, Joel, and Erica for making this trip happen, it was fantastic fun!

On a gear note, I snagged a slightly beat up Olympus XZ-1 off ebay, and have been really happy with the images coming off it. It takes the same batteries as my waterproof Olympus point and shoot, is small, lightweight, has a relatively fast lens, and it takes wonderful pictures – yay!

I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer!

Here is map from when I did it in 2013. The hiking is better going up Sanctuary on the west side of the river (river left) – cross over if you can just as you enter the valley, there are great game trails on the west side.

A few more photos can be found

Posted by on July 18, 2014.

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