After deciding that I couldn't go to the northern plateau, I aimed for the southern one. This one is the "normal" route that other hikers take. From what I had read, maybe a half dozen hiking groups go here every year. So I started by retracing my steps, heading back up-canyon. Most I was on more gravel bar, but sometimes the river forces you on the bank, and in this case, that could mean more tundra walking.
Hills across the canyon
The bears are eating lots of berries!
Although hiking in the canyon here was not too hard, eventually you need to get to the other side. The Sanford River is too swift to cross, so you have to cross on the glacier. Here I am approaching it.
I assumed that the river was coming out of that cave and would have to cross high above
The Sanford Glacier was covered with sandy debris, but sometimes the layer was thin and you would slide and slip
After a lot of steep up and down, I got a new view and saw that most of the water was not coming out of that cave (though it probably was at some point before the glacier shifted), but next to it. This meant I didn't actually have to go high, and could just slide down the slope on the other side of the river
Finally around the glacier, I could walk next to it for a while and then start up the slope. Here is looking back as I started up
After a climb of a little over an hour, it was a completely different world on the plateau
I saw a group of Dall Sheep
After setting up camp, it rained for a couple hours, but stopped around 6pm and I had a nice evening. My plateau camp was in a spectacular location
With a good view down the valley. My first night's camp is about where the river turns left
It mostly cleared and I had a view of Mt Sanford, 16273 feet tall
and Mt Drum, 12, 010 feet
It rained all night and was still raining in the morning, so I decided to head back. Here is my final camp back near the landing strip