Rising Water too Dangerous to Cross


The final day of our stay at Nugget Creek in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, in 1994, we packed up our gear and loaded the ATV’s for the 20 mile drive back to our trailer and van at Strelna Creek.  Nugget Creek was flowing high and fast, we watched and waited but saw little change all day.  Several mountain bikers were stranded on the opposite shore and we shouted our concerns back and forth deciding the fast moving swollen creek was too dangerous to cross.  We should have known, five days of rain causes quite a bit of runoff from the surrounding peaks.

The sun was shining, but we estimated it would take 24 hours for the rising water to subside, so we turned around to spend another night at the cabin.  The next day we tried again, this time the creek was back to its normal flow and the crossing was easy.

We enjoyed the ride in the sunshine back to the vehicle, the long stretches of overgrown trail were warm, the leaves shimmered in the light.  Our trip created good memories and a gave a glimpse into another world, a place of quiet, isolation, and stunning views of the wilderness.  I think of that magic cabin from time to time and wonder who is using it and if it is still maintained as nicely as it was when we were there.

I recommend the trip highly, contact the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park for current conditions and to reserve the public use cabin at Nugget Creek.

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist

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