The confluence point 64°N 151°W is easy to get to if you're in the neighborhood, but the neighborhood isn't so easy to get to. The point lies only about 250 meters outside the boundary of Denali National Park, but there is no practical way to get there from inside the park. John Burch and I decided to try to reach the point when we made a trip to our camp on the Kantishna River. Our trip began in the small town of Nenana, one of the few places where the road system meets the river system in Alaska. From there, we boated 120 km down the Tanana River, then 200 km up the Kantishna River. Fewer than 10 people live along the Kantishna River, and our progress up the river was reported from one homestead to the next by CB radio. Only a few boats per year go upriver as far as Bearpaw Mountain. The confluence point is near a creek that flows into the Kantishna River just south of Bearpaw Mountain.
We had taken a canoe partway up the creek a year earlier, before we had heard of the Confluence Project. At our camp this year, we assembled our collapsible canoe and loaded it into the boat, and on a foggy fall morning we motored a few km to the creek, and upstream until the way was blocked by logs. We parked the boat and paddled the canoe another 5 km up the creek, which has no name but carries a lot of water out of the forests of Denali National Park. By then it was a perfect sunny day, the colors of the fall leaves were at their peak, and the creek was full of ducks getting ready to fly south.
We ascended the winding creek until we reached 151°W. Pulling the canoe onto the shore, we hiked the remaining 250 meters south over a low, birch-covered ridge. The confluence itself is in sparse taiga forest of white spruce and dwarf birch, and features a view of Mount McKinley (Denali), the tallest mountain in North America at 6,195 meters. The mountain is 100 km south of the confluence point and loomed hazy but impressive in the distance. We hadn't seen the mountain until we arrived at the confluence point. Some small ponds just south of there provide a gap in the trees so the mountain can be seen.
After leaving the confluence, we had an easy float back down the creek to our boat. We saw an otter in the creek, and two half-grown wolf pups ran along the shore. We were tempted to shoot some of the ducks that we saw along the way, but decided that we had enough food already. We boated out of the relatively clear water of the creek into the muddy water of the Kantishna River, which carries a heavy load of silt from the glaciers of the Alaska Range. We were back home at our campsite soon afterward for a duck-free supper.
A hundred years ago, there were more people around this area, and later in our trip we visited the ruins of the mining and trapping settlement of Roosevelt, 40km upstream, now abandoned and falling down. In spite of the fact that it was moose hunting season, we saw only one boat go by in the week that we were up the river. The point 64°N 151°W has probably not seen many human visitors over the centuries, and if the price of gasoline stays where it is, it will probably not see many in the future!