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Snake Ridge - A Road to Alaskan Adventure

Snake Ridge

The first time I went to Snake Ridge Road, I scouted out a helicopter sling job.  Back then the Mitkof Highway ran asphalt-free from the hatchery to Banana Point on the southern end of the island.  So after a long drive on the slick, rutted,  often muddy road I arrived at the turn off to Snake Ridge and the bridge across Ohmer Creek.  Prior to my arrival, I followed the muskegs, sand bars, intertidal grass flats, and braided streams of Ohmer Creek.  But here for a moment grew a thick old riparian clump supporting ancient spruce.

I drove across to the rock pit that provided gravel for the periodic improvement of nearby forest roads.  It laid on the edge of the muskegs, it would do fine. Then I walked to Ohmer Creek trail where we intended to sling in the treated lumber .   The trail  lay a foot under water in places.  The floating part of the trail broke loose from its anchors and looked rather pathetic.

I postponed the sling job.

That gave me time to check out the nearby campground. Early in the season it stood dark and overgrown by lush riparian growth and hoary old Sitka spruce.  The door of an outhouse hung wide open and toilet paper blew in the spring breeze.  I also noted a trail beaten from the campground to Ohmer Creek down stream from the riparian growth.   It proved a great place to take the future Alaskan Seafood Guys that summer with our fishing poles.  In the pools, schools of pink salmon awaited a the incoming tide before raising up Ohmer Creek.

Opposite the campground lay a forest road that paralleled the lower Ohmer Creek.  A buddy and I snuck through the riparian to surprise a few ducks on occasion.   Honestly the two rowdy little boys did much better duck hunting  at Blind River when I took then before church.

My buddy and I went deer hunting up Snake Ridge a couple of times. Atop the quickly regenerating clear cuts we could see the muskegs below.  One day the temperature rose to stifling 70F!  I stripped down to my “4 Stages of Tequila”  tank top and ended up with a lot more mosquito bites than sightings of deer.  I benefitted for the hunt in one way.  I saw the log landing on top of the ridge. I’ll talk more about that later.

Thirty-five years went by since I first saw Ohmer Creek trail.  Due to flooding or beaver active, we rebuilt it three times .  I went to see how well it survived and to walk the much praised new trail.  I carried a shot gun loaded with slugs, at my wife’s wise insistence.  Eastward across a thin ridge lays “Dry Straits”. It is part of the Stikine delta and actually goes “dry” at a low tide. About the time I made my home on Mitkof Island, brown bears from the main land started colonizing the island.  I enjoyed the wide gravel trails and solid beautiful bridge.  This calm beautiful fall day caused me to reflect, oddly the reflection of the thin eastward ridge in a beaver pond caused me to remember a similar scene hiking into Tasman Glacier in New Zealand forty years ago.

But my favorite story about Snake Ridge involves the two log landings. The loggers erected a tall pole or a portable tower and winched all the logs up the hills to be loaded onto trucks and taken to the log rafts at Olsons Log Dump.  The landing are intensely worked by heavy machinery, so regrowth is slow.  The loggers carefully cleaned up the area before moving on, leaving only a picnic table.

I took my wife there for a picnic accompanied by two rowdy little boys. The weather still pushed a shirt shedding 70F!  A warm breeze off the Stikine kept the mosquitoes at bay.  The straits and passages emanating from Etolin Bay sparkled at noon .  The town of Wrangell shone below us and two rowdy little boys got to play in the sun.

 

Author - William Moulton