trip report: Donnelly - McKinley Village

From June 27 – July 4, Kellie Okonek and I walked from Donnelly to McKinley Village, in the Alaska Range. We more or less followed what I understand was a commonly-taken route when this was a AMWC race, but with a few variations early on. It seemed like every ten minutes one of us would look up and see yet another massif of glistening white glacier and big mountain. We used rafts to cross the Delta River, then next used them a few days later to float on the Wood River from an unnamed creek put-in to the take-out at Big Grizzly Creek. The Wood was fine and an easy float. Then we walked to the Yanert, and floated from Edgar Creek to just below Moose Creek. From Moose Creek it’s 6-7 miles to the Parks Highway. The Yanert was big and fast, with one unexpected rock garden than woke me up pretty quickly. This is amazing and Big Country, and I would travel there again in a second.

Dylan Kentch

I put pictures up on my blog ( if you’re interested . . .

Hi guys, beautiful photos. Could you say a bit more about the Yanert? Is it very difficult? Fast Class II or worse? How long and difficult was the ‘rock garden’ you hit? (If anybody else out there has any info as well, that would be welcome.) Thanks.

the yanert is not a braided nightmare mess. the rocky section is quick and dirty, over before you know it. it was probably made most difficult because it was unexpected. we pulled out after it and dumped water from the boats. I’m not the best at rating water, but i know it was no III and not class I.

The Wilderness Classic covered this route this year and i posted a little on my blog

The water was very high and the Wood and Yanert very fast. We were able to float the Wood from its upper bend (below the pass to West Fork Little Delta) all the way to Grizzly Creek (going past Big Grizzly Creek), hike the horse trail there over to the Yanert and float that down. The rocky/rapid section on the Yanert was too big and high for Forrest and I to run it in my big boat together so he ran it while I hiked the trail alongside.

You can see clips of both rivers in the youtube video:

I also posted a bunch of info on my website, including pictures, route beta, and a video: A race report is getting published by Backpacking Light on Tuesday and it’ll be up on my site by the end of the week.