Field Notes: Alaska Deep Backcountry

We spent 7 days in Alaska's deep backcountry. I'm grateful for every single moment.

a deep exhale

There are times when all you wish for is the earth to open up, the roads to disappear, and a wall of mountains to rise up around you. There’s no path to follow. You’re deep in untouched wilderness, hiking and camping along clear glacial streams. A deep exhale, inviting the restorative power of nature to wash over you.

A week in untouched wilderness, hiking from high-country lakes down into one of the largest runs of salmon on earth, was the deep exhale in nature that we all needed.

I spent a week in Alaska last summer, on a Backpacker Travel adventure in Alaska’s deep backcountry. We spent seven days trekking through pristine wilderness in places few people have set foot. We pushed ourselves hard and earned every mile. I’m grateful for every single moment.

-Scott McNeely

Day 1: The Drop

A quick bush flight from Anchorage, weaving in between the spectacularly jagged mountains in a float plane. We’re treated to a smooth lake landing, with a wall of mountains rising up around us. Time to pitch tents and gather around the camp kitchen—meals here are some of the best backcountry food I’ve ever had.

Days 2 - 3: High Country

Up and over scree fields, past glaciers and fast-flowing rivers, up and up and up into the clouds. It’s hard going, my limbs are tired and my feet sore. Yet time in raw nature is the best medicine. I know how lucky I am to pitch my tent under a million stars in a vast remoteness.

Days 4 - 5: Bear Country

Down into wind-swept valleys under the deepest of blue skies. Bear tracks on the riverbank, and our first encounters with wild grizzly bears roaming the tundra, fishing for salmon, only mildly curious about us fully mesmerized humans. Two nights in Alaska bear country is a gift I won’t soon forget.

Day 6: The Scoop

Float planes swoop down and scoop us up, heading to the final reward of lakeside cabins—with hot showers and a home cooked meal—that we never want to leave.

Day 7: Homeward Bound

A last morning, and farewells to this amazing place and to the amazing group I’ve shared it with. The end of our adventure has come too soon. We’re all asking ourselves, maybe there’s an open seat on the next float plane into the backcountry…