26-Jan-2008 -- The temperature was a chilly negative fifteen degrees fahrenheit the day we attempted 61N, 161W, so we bundled in a lot of layers and covered every inch of our bodies in goggles, masks and gloves.
We departed from Bethel, Alaska, around 11 am via snow machine and traveled 50 miles up the frozen Kuskokwim River. After passing the villages of Akiachak and Akiak, we parked our machines at the mouth of an unnamed slough two air miles from the confluence. The confluence itself is on Mishevik Slough, which theoretically can be reached by snowmachine. But we knew nearby water was still unfrozen, and a recent blizzard could hide holes on Mishevik Slough. So to be safe, we decided to walk overland through what we thought would be a relatively easy four-mile round trip hike.
We were wrong. It took us four hours to hike what turned out to be a five-mile ordeal to the confluence. The willows were dense, and the snow was knee deep even with snowshoes. We thought frozen lakes and creeks would provide a reprieve from the tangled underbrush, but they were just as hard to walk through because of the deep snowdrifts. At points, we had to stop every quarter mile to rest. But we both stayed in good spirits, and it was fun to see two moose, two snowshoe hares, and numerous ravens. Eventually we reached the confluence on Mishevik Slough, ate some almost-frozen food and drank some almost-frozen water, and turned around. When we reached the snowmachines at 6 pm it was after sunset, and most of the trip back to Bethel was in complete darkness. When we got home at 9 pm, a friend was ready to call Bethel Search and Rescue because we took so long.
The snowmachining was Fun Number 1, but the hiking was mostly Fun Number Two. It's no wonder there are so many unvisited confluences in Alaska.