01-Sep-2002 -- I have been looking for an opportunity to visit this confluence since last winter and have had to develop patience. First our snow cover high in the mountains persists until late May and when June rolled around my son and I broke our GPS visiting the confluence to the east. It took a month to get the GPS back from repairs and so finally on the first of September I decided to make this visit before the early snow started accumulating up high in the mountains.
This is an attractive confluence that is close to the Alaska Highway and any route you choose will give you a commanding view of the Shakwak Valley and Kluane National Park to the west (Pic#6). Last summer Hermann Grebner's attempt was deterred by highway construction and even Brian Butler reported problems earlier this summer but I found most construction activity was finished when I visited.
I used the 1:50,000 map (Kloo Lake 115A/13 West) to help plan my route - my version is an old first edition map circa 1952. There is a prominent slope that comes right down to the highway beside a gravel pit that gives one easy access to the high country. I started up this slope heading for an old survey triangulation station ("Kloo") that was marked on the map just above the 4800 ft contour. Route finding was easy as this slope has an open spruce - aspen forest - it took about an hour and a half to cover the 3 km. The clouds started breaking up, the drizzle stopped and the sun came out so I could eat lunch in the sunshine at this spot. There were two brass-looking markers embedded in the bedrock dated in the early 1940s so I would guess they were used when the Alaska Highway was being realigned after it was first built in 1942 (Pic#6).
From this point I had just 2 km to the confluence but it involved some up and down traversing. I descended the ridge from the triangulation station, climbed back up the next ridge to the north (reaching 4,990 ft) and then homed in on the confluence point that involved a 600-foot descent (Pic#5). As I made my way down this final slope I was left the view of the Alaska Highway behind and what lay before me was a typical Yukon wilderness vista!
Most of the day was spent traveling on open ground either in an aspen forest or the subalpine or alpine ridges. As it turns out the confluence point was in a shrub thicket (locals call it "buckbrush" AKA dwarf birch and willows). I came across half of an old moose antler just before the confluence point and dragged it along as my "biodegradable" marker for the confluence point. I had been using the NAD27 Alaska datum on my GPS earlier in the day so I could zero in on the old triangulation station - I then switched to the WGS84 but the confluence waypoint that I had entered earlier was out by at least 30 metres. I suppose this was because I entered the waypoint using the NAD27 datum and when I switched datums the waypoint was translated to a slightly different spot. Eventually I was able to get things sorted out, found the spot (61N 138W) with between 6 and 8 metres accuracy and duly marked it with half a moose antler. Travel time from the highway to the confluence was 2.5 hours moving at a good speed (to keep warm), the distance was about 5 km and the climb involved about 2100 ft.
This was a great excuse for a hike (on a day I wouldn't have normally bothered going out). The clouds and showers kept moving throughout the day and added some wonderful lighting to the spectacular fall colours. The autumn at this time of year sees many of our berries ripen and I came across lots of low-bush and high-bush cranberries, crowberries and the occasional blueberry. There seemed to be a few flocks of birds migrating through the area - I did see a Mountain Bluebird perched on a tree in the subalpine, a small falcon flying the ridge and several Gray Jays. The alpine slope descending to the confluence point has lots of Arctic ground squirrels that gave alarm calls as I passed by and in some of the rocky section here I heard two pikas calling (Pic#3). Also saw a field vole scurrying by when I was moving through a wet, grassy slope.