Hi all. Just returned from a trip to Oolah valley in the Brooks Range. We based our route on information found in some internet searching and speaking with friends, but the details of our trip may be of interest.
July 24 - August 1, 2011
Here is a poor resolution map. I had trouble figuring out a better way to post this. Also, the dates aren't quite accurate, but you get the idea.
Day 1- Started on Dalton Highway, crossed the Dietrich River and hiked up Trembley Creek. Great walking in the stream channel.
Day 2- Continued East, camped in Kinnorutin Pass. Good walking.
Day 3- Followed Amawk creek down to the North Fork Koyukuk River, headed North, camped just south of canyon upstream of Alinement creek. Mostly great walking, some minor tussocks. Tons of wolf tracks along the Koyukuk (spotted one wolf).
Day 4- Skirted canyon along bench on East side of drainage, continued north over the continental divide, camped near confluence with the Itkillik River. Flow too low for rafting. Amazingly clear weather in commemoration of one party member's birthday. Also, met up with some friends on a concurrent trip.
Day 5 and 6- Hiked up Thunder Valley and hung out below Cockedhat Mountain. Wild place and well worth the side trip.
Day 7- Floated the Itkillik from near Oolah lake (there is a well stocked cabin on the South side of the lake that would make for good shelter in an emergency) to valley entrance about 10 miles downstream. Fantastic and easy floating. Hiked a couple miles up valley. Scared the crap out of a brown bear.
Day 8- Hiked about 7 miles up valley, over an easy pass, and down to the confluence with the main channel of the Atigun. Again, great walking in a very cool valley.
Day 9- Put in to the Atigun just below a set of prominent rapids. Great floating with two small portages. Consistent riffles and rock gardens for about 7 miles to the road, but nothing overly difficult with a loaded raft. Parked car at bridge near Galbraith lake, which in retrospect was a mistake as the Atigun slows way...way down and becomes quite sinuous. Finally got fed up, hoped out and ran/hitchhiked the last few miles to the car.
The Brooks Range and everything north of the Brooks Range. Includes the Noatak and Seward Peninsula.
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There are lots of good trip options in this area. I recently did a variant of this trip, going in via Oolah Pass and down the Itkillik to a point closest to Toolik Lake and hiking back out to the Haul Road. You get another 30 river miles, but the last 10 are very slow.