25-May-2008 -- I had been contemplating going to the confluence at 150 degrees West and 65 degrees North for quite some time but the 20 mile hike through the alders scared off most of my potential partners. "Why on earth would you want to do that" was a pretty common response, sometimes stated a bit more strongly with hints as to the state of my sanity. When I asked Tim Prusak, he thought it sounded reasonable, so we were off over Memorial day weekend. We were under no illusions that it would be easy and left ourselves a way out by deciding that if the weather was marginal at all we would call it off.
We left Nenana on Saturday about noon and headed down the Tanana River in a vintage (leaky) speedboat. After two hours motoring through the silty glacial water we made a right onto the Tolovana River and set up camp just a few bends upstream. We spent a leisurely evening cooking moose tenderloins over the fire and looking at the map. The morning dawned mostly clear and pleasant, so our fate was decided. After a big breakfast we motored downstream to a convenient spot and tied up the boat.
We started walking by nine am. The Dugan Hills are below tree line and covered with alders, black spruce and birch trees. Without a trail the going was slow. We got rained on and even had a bit of hail. Luckily the alders had not leafed out so we could at least see through the woods. We arrived at the confluence at just after five pm, tired, worn out and damp with the first ten miles covered. We took quick pictures, had a snack and turned around. The trip back to the boat was a bit of a blur, as we just kept slogging, finally stumbling down the last hill at just before one am. It's a good thing that the sun doesn't go down in the summer in Alaska. We had covered more than twenty miles with four thousand feet of vertical relief in 16 hours. The beer waiting in the boat was some of the best I've ever had.