mountains of the Brooks Range were former sea beds.
we drove along through Atigun Pass we viewed the dramatic peaks that had once
been the layers of ocean bottom. Compacted
together and then pushed up 4,000 – 9,000 feet up into the air, these peaks
are hauntingly beautiful. A very
interesting looking hill lies just beyond Pump Station Four.
On the east side of the road there will be a small rock mountain with
lots of caves high up on the sides. Doug
had spent a lot of time hiking the various ridges here when he worked at pump
station four one summer. He offered
to take us for a hike up onto the mountains behind Castle Mountain. I took him up on that offer.
We parked the trucks in a parking lot just passed Pump
Station Four. Pump Station Four is
located at mile 269. The parking
lot was about a mile further on the same side of the road.
There is no charge to park here and is open to the public.
eating lunch, Doug lead the charge across the tundra to the east.
We had enjoyed so many warm sunny days that much of the water on the
tundra had dried up making the crossing relatively easy.
Doug charged directly up the first ridge while I took a less steep route
to the left side of the hill. We
met back up at the top of the ridge where an open flat meadow was covered in all
sorts of wildflowers including Alpine Milk Vetch, Forget-Me-Nots, and Moss
Campion. There is a small stream
crossing though the middle of the field. Crossing was easy as Doug demonstrates
in the picture.
we reached the base of Castle Mountain we looked up to see a whole herd of Dall
sheep. They grazed on the
vegetation that grew right up to Castle Mountain.
They also had very narrow ledges they could move across to enter the
caves in the sheer sides of Castle Mountain.
guided us around the right side of Castle Mountain gaining elevation rather
quickly. Once we reached the saddle
above the caves, we saw that the real peaks were back behind the Castle
Mountain. The highest one has now
been named “Dougenick Peak”. There
was no more vegetation after this saddle. We
scrambled up the loose stone along one of the ridges to the very highest peak in
the group of mountains behind Castle Mountain.
Doug’s topographical map indicated an elevation of just over 5,000
feet. As we came closer to the top I found several specimens of
fossils from the ocean bed. We
heard that these can also be found at the bottom of Castle Mountain. I just happened to notice them as I made my way through the
loose rock up to the top.
The views along the climb are magnificent.
The ridges are relatively wide and extend
for quite a ways in several directions. Doug
told me he used to come up onto the mountaintops on his days off to relax and
enjoy the unbelievable views. It
took me three hours to make it from the parking lot to the top of the mountain.
Doug probably would have made it in two if I had not been holding him up.
Going down took me just as long and the constant rock shifting really
have my muscles a workout.
mosquitoes are pretty bad the entire way on these mountains.
There was very little breeze for most of the climb and descent, meaning
we had a swarm buzzing us the entire trip.
I had to reapply bug dope on several occasions as I would sweat it off. Leather gloves are highly recommended as well.
I took a couple of spills as the loose rock would shift under me, and the
rocks up on the mountainside are very sharp.
Once I remembered I had my leather lifting gloves with me the trip became
Last Visited: July 2001