Sarah and I caught the 7:30am bus, but we had permits to backpack in different places. She got off the bus just before Eielson and I stayed on until Pokychrome rest stop. My permit was for three nights, but I was not expecting to stay that long. The weather was slowly deteriorating and there was no gear cache at Polychrome, so I would have to take all of my gear with me, including stuff I didn't need for the camping.
The route followed a valley for a few miles to the East Fork River. It started with the typical tundra and brush, but in a while, changed to a rocky valley I hadn't seen too many times here.
There was an unmaintained trail some of the time, but after a while, it disappeared and I angled up to the top of the ridge, where I could see my destination for the day. The East Fork River valley is just above and left of center, with the gravel hillside.
Here is one channel of the river on its gravel bar.
I took a stroll down the gravel bar late in the afternoon and saw these Dall sheep sitting on top of this rock pedestal, closely regarding me.
Looking north, down the gravel bar, towards the Wyoming Hills.
Strange swirling strata in the cliff across from my camp.
Sunset on the East Fork.
I could see from the map that it would be an easy walk of just over a mile down the East Fork gravel bar back to the road the next morning, so I went that way. When I turned a corner, I saw that the bridge was well above the road and that on my side of the river, I would be "cliffed" out with no easy access to the road.
This meant that I had to cross the river to get to the other side, which had a much smaller hill next to the river.
This crossing was a bit deeper with stronger current than the Toklat River east branch had been - it was just above the knee. But it wasn't too bad. Here is how the entire braided river looked from above the bank on the other side.
And had I continued on my original plan, which was to cross a pass over to the Big Creek drainage to the east, I would have had to climb these ridges an cross over.