Toklat Cleanup 2016

February 08, 2016 Posted by: Kristin Gates
Team taking a break on their way to East Fork with Opus and Clove in lead
(NPS Photo/ Kristin Gates)
Since the 1970s, the Denali Kennels sled dogs have hauled out thousands of pounds of trash off the Toklat River. This year again the Kennels continued the work, traveling for ten days and 200 miles to put in trail, reach the Toklat River, and haul debris to the Park Road. 
Debris in Sled
(NPS Photo/ Kristin Gates)
Many hands have helped to make these efforts possible. The Kennels has been lucky to partner with groups who stack up debris in the summer for pick up by dogs in the winter. This past summer it was Boy Scout Troop 303 from Burlington, Wisconsin. The troop spent several days in the backcountry hauling heavy material and leaving it south of the Narrows so that the Kennels could pick it up at that location this winter. During early January the Kennels was able to head out and do just that. 
It took us three days to travel to the Toklat River with four teams of dogs. Two teams traveled via the North Boundary and the third and fourth via the Park Road corridor. After meeting at the Toklat Cabin, which we used as our base, we headed out 9 miles downriver to reach the cache. Luckily the river ice was in superb condition, nicely frozen with a dusting of snow on top. 
Drachma and Kavik in lead
(NPS Photo/ Kristin Gates)
The Park dogs amaze us all with their ability to head straight onto ice or lead through overflow without batting an eye. This can do attitude no matter what the condition is not a quality you always find in sled dogs. We work carefully with the dogs when they are young to build their confidence and, even though we work hard to set them up for success, they still amaze us every day with their eagerness to pull. 
Pyro and Polly doing a great job in lead
(NPS Photo/ Kristin Gates)
After reaching the first cache, two of the Kennels staff headed north to scout the Narrows while two remained with the dogs to cut boards, so that they would fit in our sleds and then loaded the debris. Despite the fact that the sled loads weighed upwards of 500 pounds, the dogs flew back to the Park Road over the ice. We deposited our haul by the Park Road for pick up once it is open in the spring. 
Kennels staff load debris onto sled
(NPS Photo/ Kristin Gates)
It is great to be able to do something concrete to help the wilderness. The Park dogs do that every day here in Denali whether it is hauling debris off the river or doing work that prevents the need for motorized travel in the wilderness. 
 We are so lucky to have such hard working people and sled dogs invested in keeping our wilderness clean. Thank you to all involved!  Remember to not only Find Your Park but to also protect your park!  What can you do to help keep your favorite backyard wilderness wild and beautiful?  

Last updated: February 8, 2016

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