Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Katmai Bay

Looking for a place to cross Mageik Creek
On Thursday morning we packed up our tents and moved out of Mageik Creek canyon in a hurry since sitting around in the wind wasn't all that fun. Once we were out in Katmai River valley heading toward the coast, our first move was to cross Mageik Creek - a narrow but swift-moving creek. The water was well up to our thighs, but with care and some group-river crossing techniques, it was safely crossable. When we continued across the valley and arrived at the Katmai River, we wanted to laugh. It's so braided and shallow it was never even above our ankles. We continued to cross the river valley, heading to the southeast, and crossed a series of other swift thigh-deep channels (not sure if they have a name). Eventually we came to the area where the Soluka and Katmai River Valleys meet, and we continued to head southeast across the Soluka River. The last several hours of this crossing were...interesting.
Ryan crossing the Katmai River
The topo maps show the Soluka River as MANY braided channels. As it turns out, it's more like one giant, shallow river plane. There was basically water as far as we could see, and we had to cross it. Lucky for us, the water was pleasantly warm. For the most part it was ankle to knee deep, however, we also sank into the mud anywhere from a couple of inches up to our thighs on occasion. Most of us found it was best just to walk in socks. The shoes we had used for other river crossings just filled up with sand/mud and became heavy. We walked through this type of water and mud for a solid three hours, into a pretty decent head-wind. There were few places to rest, since we were surrounded by water. It is not lost on us that we were very fortunate to have nice weather on this day.
Crossing the Soluka River...for three hours

Still crossing the Soluka

When we finally reached the coast that evening, we were elated to see the beautiful white sand beach that would be our landing strip. Despite being incredibly fortunate with the weather and being in such an awe-inspiring landscape, we pretty much plopped down our packs, set up our camp, and got out the sat phone to arrange our pickup a day earlier than scheduled. We didn't move until our plane came the next day a little after noon. We were completely beat. But sometimes, laying on a beach with your feet up on a log listening to the waves lap on the sandy beach at low tide is just what you need to recover and reflect.

Arriving at Katmai Bay after a long day
Katmai Bay
Taking down our tents at our last camp
Ryan walking out to meet Keller

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