Trip Log: Thursday, July 18, 2002
We camped last night at Holden Creek, a stopping point on our way to Deadhorse. Surrounded by the sweeping mountains of the Brooks Range we were enthralled by our view down the Atigun Valley. We awoke this morning to a bright blue cloudless sky and a mild temperature of ~68°. After our breakfast of bagels and cream cheese (yes there is really a Bay Area/Alaska connection) we prepared for our day hike to Castle Rock (so named by Roland because of its resemblance to a castle, of course).
Castle Rock is composed of massive beds of carboniferous Lisburne limestone containing fossils, some dating back to more than 300 million years ago. As we walked to the fossil sites, we were continually amazed by the profusion and variety of wildflowers in bloom. Phil, our resident botanist, was constantly being called upon to identify something new. Every elevation change seemed to provide us with different plants, ranging from yellow Tundra Roses to bright blue Forget-Me-Nots, Alaskas state flower (right).
Dall sheep greeted us from their impossible trails on the sides of cliffs, and watched us as we explored. We actually followed some of their pathways as we climbed over 1000 feet. We checked out a small limestone cave, dubbed Dip and Strike (otherwise known as Bud Cave), saw a possible falcon nest, had a short visual presentation on attitude (the geology kind that is) and marveled at a small glacial cirque that is on its way to becoming a rock glacier. And the view from the top was worth every step up that steep climb and every mosquito encountered.
When we returned to camp, most hikers opted for a cold foot bath in the creek, but a few of our hardier team members pulled out a Frisbee. Then, curry for dinner completed our Berkeley kind of day.
Reporters of the day: Peg and Pat
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