by Donald Bowers, Jr.
This is a relatively straightforward leg across low, mostly open country. The trail runs across open lowlands and lakes, along sloughs, and through some wooded areas, finally dropping into the heavily timbered Yukon River bottomlands before crossing the mighty river itself at Anvik. Plan on two to three hours for this run. There are no surprises, although some of the sections through the tree lines can be a bit tight in the heavy timber. This is a fairly well used village-to-village snowmachine trail so it’s normally in pretty good shape.
You’ll leave Shageluk down the steep bank in front of the school directly onto the quarter-mile-wide Innoko River head upstream (actually westbound at this point) for about a mile before you head up the west bank of the river onto the flatlands.
For the next 15 miles or so the trail crosses a mix of open swamps, lakes, and tundra interspersed by occasional excursions through wooded areas. It will also run along sloughs for part of this distance. The trail is generally easy and doesn’t present any problems other than a few climbs up steep banks of sloughs and some narrow stretches in some of the woods.
About 8 miles from Anvik the trail gets into heavy timber along the Yukon River. It will drop into a south-flowing slough for a couple of miles before pushing the last couple of miles to the Yukon. The trail can be twisting and narrow in the woods and the slough.
You’ll come onto the Yukon at the south end of a large island. The river is about a mile wide at this point. Anvik sits behind a 300-foot bluff on the far side cross the tip of the island on a sandbar and angle across the river itself to the north end of the bluff.
Then you,ll bend to the left around the bluff until you enter a slough; Anvik sits at the mouth of the slough, on the south bank. Climb up the steep bank of the slough into town and follow the main road for about half a mile to the community center. From the tip of the island to the checkpoint is about three miles. Water is available. Although the hospitality here is excellent, most drivers don’t stay long because Grayling is only 18 miles north, and it’s the jump off for the long haul up the Yukon.