Spring Skiing Up Gravel Creek Into the Main Chugach Mountains

You don't know where Gravel Creek is?  Well, neither did we until the night of April 15th.  That's when I was talking to Tim Miller on the phone about where we should ski the next day.   Tim put his finger on the map and said: "How about Gravel Creek?".  We recruited always-easily-recruit-able Cory Smith and before we knew it ... we all had found some great spring skiing in a very unique location.

There is always a "double-dose" of web photo journalism when Cory and I do a trip together ... so make sure to check out the photos on Cory's web site.

Here's our route.  From the Victory Bible Camp turnoff we followed an icy road down to the Matanuska River and crossed it to the Gravel Creek drainage.  Total distance was about 25 miles. Behind Tim Miller are the gravel bluffs that give Gravel Creek its name. We didn't see any game, only signs.  Remains of a moose carcass was melting out of the ice.
Lower in the valley we saw lots of wolf tracks. Cory about to hop a crust stream. Tough country.
Snowmobilers had been in this valley a week or more before us.  We used their trail about half the time. We crossed a bit of avalanche debris where snow had slid down a gravel bank. A narrow and shadowed part of the valley was un-crusted - so we switched to classic striding in skate boots, on skate skis with no wax.  In spring skiing there are no rules!
We stopped near the end of the valley where the snowmobilers had turned around. Quite the spectacular end to the valley, an unnamed glacier spills down from the south. The pace and the fun factor picked up on the way out.
Art on the fly - here I frame a shot of Cory, shooting backwards between my legs! There were LOTS of wolverine tracks in the valley.  Unfortunately we did not see any. Nice bank-side crust skating along a crystal clear mountain stream.
We thank the many dozens of snow bridges we crossed for not collapsing! A tailwind, downhill grade and good crust ... fun cruising.  
Here is a shot of the "gravel minarets" we skied beneath. Near the Matanuska River we took a side trip to check out Tatondan Lake. There were a number of cabins on the lake.  But this one won the award for most unique water tank.
  Cory skis to the north bank of the Matanuska River.  The Gravel Creek area of the Chugach Mountains that we were just in is in the center distance.  
Back to 2006 Skiing Photos Photos and web page by Tim Kelley