I've never been nervous about a hike before. Excited, overjoyed, jittery, elated, dreamy and all other feelings of that sort yes, but nervous no. I'm not even sure nervous is the right word to describe my feelings about our upcoming hike, but I don't currently feel the usual overwhelming pre-trip combination of uplifting emotions that I would expect. I imagine the current tingling of my nervous system may be from a combination of things. Perhaps it is the lack of much pre-planning for this excursion when typically I am a fastidious planner. Or the stress and distraction of leaving our work at the ranch when it is the craziest it has ever been. Or the hugeness of the remote country that we are preparing to travel through, mostly without trail other than those made by the large mammals that inhabit the mountains. Mainly though, if nervous is the right word, I would think it is the water that is making me feel nervous. The rivers and creeks fed by glaciers and swollen from recent rains. The element of the earth in which I have very little experience in traveling. The unknown of what to expect. Ultimately however, it is the unknown and the uncomfortableness of pushing my limits that makes me love to adventure.
Hiking and pack rafting from our home on the Nabesna Rd. to my favorite Alaska town of McCarthy through the Wrangell Mountains was just an idea dreamed and discussed during the long dark months of winter. A two week trip of around 160 miles with one resupply. We did a couple of google searches and found a few blogs which furthered our dreaming when the season of the sun seemed very far away. Yet quickly we found summer upon us and with the rush of cramming a years worth of outside work and play into just about 4 months of warm weather we were only a few weeks away from our vacation and had done very little more to prepare for our trip.
We picked up our packrafts from a local outfitter just several weeks before our departure date, and didn't find time to put them into the water until just about a week prior to our trip. A super mellow float, I'm sure nothing like the rivers we would encounter soon. I downloaded the Gaia app and the figured out how to download the maps onto my phone. I refuse to travel in the wilderness relying solely on electronics so I also borrowed a printer and spent many hours figuring out how to print the maps onto paper. I called the guide outfit where we planned to have our resupply package sent and had a friendly conversation with a woman which included a warning of the extremely high rivers and creeks in the area. We had seen recent evidence of the rapid change in the rivers as they filled from rains and her warning had us re-thinking our journey which required many water crossings and also included several river floats in our packrafts. We called Kennicott Wilderness Guides in McCarthy who does a lot of packrafting trips who also told us of the "gnarly" rivers of recent weeks. We even contacted a friend living in the Brooks Range and discussed other possible routes for our summer adventure up in his neck of the woods where the rivers were unusually low, a plan B. Ultimately our dreams from the winter months lured us back, and the mountains we looked upon from our front porch coaxed us to explore their wilderness. So we booked a one day "down and dirty" packrafting course and plan to spend a day learning some river basics from guide we know. That should help ease the nerves a bit.
Our food is packed in boxes awaiting the transfer to our backpacks and the mailing to our resupply. Our packrafts are drying from our recent float. Our maps are printed. Our plans are planned. All we have to do now is gather our hiking gear and figure out how to cram it, all along wth our 10+lbs of newly acquired river gear, into our packs and carry it into the wild.
Now that I have written this, all my feelings of jittery nerves seem to have lifted and I am left with the usual feelings of joy and excitement. Yay, just a few more days until we get to breathe deep and disappear into the woods for awhile!