A Polaris 700 Sportsman loaded for an ATV trip to the property and a camp clearing expedition

A Polaris 700 Sportsman loaded for an ATV trip to the property and a camp clearing expedition

With an truck, trailer and ATV on loan from my boss, I proceeded to the Trapper Creek Glenn parking lot, unloaded, packed the rig and headed off for the second ever visit to the property, and the first via a capable vehicle loaded with gear for beginning my molding of the to my liking.

Since I had only previously hiked to the property, and much of the way directly through with forest and across streams and marsh land, this was my opportunity to discover drivable access to the lot whether via a trail or some other passable route. In fact, the going was easy for a while. I parked and headed up the main trail at the south end of the Glenn. Much of the trail I had already hiked on and new the route. However, at some point, about half way running north up Ridge Trail, through the heart of Trapper Creek Glenn, I began to run into a difficult to pass, mud laden corridor through the forest.

A winch is one of the most valuable items in your arsenal of gear when working in the backcountry.

A winch is one of the most valuable items in your arsenal of gear when working in the backcountry.

At one point I didn’t trust boards that someone else had places to cross a pit, and still became stuck along the side of the deep, sticky whole. Luckily my boss’s rig was outfitted with an electric winch which I hooked to a tree ahead and used to get free within a minute or so.

Cutting logs to fill a mud hole

Cutting logs to fill a mud hole

At another muddy location, I was quick to pull out the chainsaw, cut logs and fill the lesser of two deeply rutted pits. The time it took was well worth the ease of travel. This would also help on the way back; although, at the time I didn’t know I wouldn’t be going back that way.

There are many ways to fabricate a backcountry cabin.

There are many ways to fabricate a backcountry cabin.

Continuing on, and with the aid of a GPS unit that would at least allow me to see if I was headingĀ  off in the wrong direction, I did in fact choose a trail that dead-ended at another small cabin, one built in the trees. I went back to a fork in the trail and took a route that began to direct me closer to my property, although I had already driven far out of my way and on a more complicated route then I would ever take again.

Still, the difficult travel was still enjoyable. Forest gave way to marshland with wide open views, then back to the dim light of the forest again with ferns that rose past the handlebars of the ATV. This was my first time to see the surrounding landscape in the summer. And then, I found myself in another pit, a pit of despair.

This hole was avoidable, had it not been hiding behind high grass.

This hole was avoidable, had it not been hiding behind high grass.

Cruising quickly across a marsh, and following a “well” traveled route, I thought nothing of leaving the marsh and entering the woods at a grassy area in the trail. Abruptly it was apparent that on the other side of the tall grass was a pit of muddy water of unknown depth. My reaction was to speed up, attempting to skip across it. Perhaps that helped to not get the front end of the Polaris 700 Sportsman buried, but the rear still sank past the rear axle, and the machine was permanently lodged, wheels unable to get enough traction to pull out. The winch, again, was an absolute life saver.

More rough going, a lot of stop and go, walking to survey clusters of muddy pits and a path that would get my past them, finally led me to a small group of cabins. To trail led directly to them and along the side of the main building.

This hunting camp lies right on the best trail.

This hunting camp lies right on the best trail.

It was clear that the path ran through someone’s private property, but no sign was visible, and having already wasted considerable time, I continued on without concern to locate an alternate route.

Past those cabins was Trapper Creek. I was getting closer. A bridge was visible, but it had been washed away, tipped to the side and broken, jammed up against bank and other logs and rocks. I had to cross through the water, which was easy but slightly alarming. I walked the water first, then mounted the ride and rolled over the river stones to the far bank. From there the trail continued through more forest that was high and dry, then would sink to low, muddy areas. Still, I moved along with ease.

To my delight, I finally reached another marsh that I knew to be a long stretch of muskeg to the north of my property. I turned south and cruised easily for a short distance. Where the trail crossed through a thin band of trees that connected one side of the forest surrounding the marsh with the other side, another deep whole was found. I settled to get the chainsaw out one more time, cut logs out of fallen trees and fill the whole. A marsh bird squawked at me all the while, and after twenty or thirty minutes I packed the saw and drove across.

Sometimes you just have to drive on through it.

Sometimes you just have to drive on through it.

I then reached a small lake and beaver dam that I also knew was north of my lot, only five minutes away. A large pit of mud at the base of the dam where water seeped out from the lake and began flowing in a creek was passable. I tested it first with my boots, then drove on through with little trouble. From there, it was easy driving to the property, back into the woods and past a small, shedlike cabin. And eventually, I had made it! I had found my property after nearly a six hour ATV trip.

Clearing camp and relaxing by a campfire

Clearing camp and relaxing by a campfire

On site, the storytelling is easy. For two days I surveyed the summer green, photographed the land and scenery for family and friends, determined where a cabin might someday be on high ground and cleared what I thought would be a more pleasing path to that point. Where I planned for the cabin, I drove the ATV in circles to crush and clear plants and brush, pitched my tent, then camped for the night. The next day a campfire pit was dug, Devil’s club was cut with clippers and stacked on a campfire, fallen trees nearby were cut and short pieces of the logs were placed around the fire. All the stack of devil’s club was burned to the ashed.

Debil's Club burning

Debil's Club burning

I tented out for the two nights, the 19th and 20th, in the bush alone with only one alarming moment. On my first morning, already slightly awake, I was startled by something walking through the high ferns to my tent. With a quickness, I exited the tent, 44 magnum revolver in hand, ready to frighten off any intruding beast before it got too close. I could see nothing for a moment, then, flicking above the ferns and low from my perspective on higher ground, where two moose ears honing in on my location. It had heard me exit the tent no doubt, turned and left in the opposite direction. I then grinned at my personal scene, standing in my underwear with the revolver at my side.

View while crossing Trapper Creek

View while crossing Trapper Creek

Before heading back I scouted for an alternate route back to the main trail and parking lot in the south. I discovered a path from the marsh south of the property that led to a cabin wit private property signs up despite an incredible bridge crossing Trapper Creek on the other side. It was one way I could go if I had to, but I still wanted something easier. I put my mind to using the northern parking lot for the Glenn, just a couple miles further on Parks Highway then the south lot. I assumed I could find the direct route from my property to that parking lot and cut out all the hours of difficult travel that brought me out there.

Leaving the property, I followed the same route back to Trapper Creek, crossed and soon passed the cabins I passed on the way in. Not long after however, at a crossroads, instead of taking the trial that would lead me to Ridge Trail again for fear of running out of fuel on such a long journey, I turned toward the highway. Within an hour, perhaps less, I was to the tarmac of Parks Highway. On the side of the road, I cruised to the southern parking lot where the truck and trailer awaited.

More Photos

Alaska Muskeg & Ponds

Alaska Muskeg & Ponds

Muskeg Macro of Plants

Muskeg Macro of Plants

A pond near the property

A pond near the property