There is a trail in Denali National Park called the Savage River Loop Trail. If you hike out just past the one mile turn around, it turns into a social trail. The social trail, meaning not maintained by the National Park Service, leads up to a ridge with a beautiful view of the river, and according to legend, if you keep following the social trail, it will take you out into a breathtaking valley.
Naturally, upon hearing of this gorgeous valley, I decided my husband and I needed to make the hike out to it. We started the season off with grand plans of a picnic in this hidden valley, but when the bugs (i.e. mosquitoes) came, we decided that just seeing the valley would actually be good enough for us.
Monday, we took the park bus out to Savage River and began our hike. We did the park trail and the social trail to the ridge, and that’s when things got rough. There was a trail, but it was so narrow and overgrown with bushes that I was thwacked in very bad places a whole lot of times. But we blundered through the mud and my declarations that I had now cheated on my husband with a tree, determined to make it to the valley. The trail led down to the swollen river… and disappeared. My guess is the path was flooded over. But we managed to keep going for a bit, making our own trail near the water. Then we had to go in a little to keep moving. Then I was on my hands and knees, crawling under bushes, and I declared the hike to be no longer fun.
Please enjoy this picture of the no longer fun moment.
We decided to give up on the damned valley that probably looked like a freaking coal mine anyway and go back. But the path we had been following was gone. Whether by the work of an evil forest nymph or the continued flooding of the river, I shall never know. Our only choice was to climb up to the ridge and try and find a way out from there.
After much swearing, we made it close to the top, but there was a mossy, evil, dirt-filled, tree hanging cliff. I managed to monkey my way up, using my surprising arm strength.
Please enjoy the bruise I got from falling off/through the moss cliff.
After getting to the top, the mountain made us go back down to the river where we had to laterally (and literally) climb rocks out over the river (it was only a few feet deep and surrounded by current stopping rocks, so please don’t worry, Mom), which lead us back to the top where we could see the valley, which wasn’t that pretty anyway, so we had to climb back down a random, steppy, crumbled cliff to the water, to climb back up to the stupid liar social trail, to the park trail and back to the stinkin’ bus!
Seven miles and five hours later, we decided that we don’t like backcountry hiking in Alaska and spent our next day off in a café, sipping cappuccinos and watching Bones, and being grateful no one was analyzing our remains.