I have always enjoyed Mr. Bill Sherwonit’s opinions. I met Mr. Sherwonit many years ago, early in his career, at McNeil River Bear Sanctuary. It was obvious then he had a good feel for Alaska’s wilderness.
Byers Lake has been a favorite since the 1970s. I often walked around the lake then, and did so again two years ago. Yes, the trail and bridge need work. As it was, the state parks department was very busy removing the dead trees from the campground, which was closed, as a safety precaution. That was a lot of trees and a horrendous amount of work.
As it was, about 15 years ago, a friend and I decided to see what the K’esugi Ridge looked like and hike the trail up there. At that time there was a rickety bridge over the inlet river. It was a steep hike, but oh my, beautiful tundra country with many kettle lakes. The next time, the bridge was out and we had to walk around the lake, which made it most difficult for me at that time, in my 70s. I frequently get up there, and another bridge was put in, but that too proved short-lived, so I was delighted to find that solid metal bridge a couple years ago. And the trail up the mountain has been rebuilt, so us older folks can get up there too, with wonderful switchbacks. I suspect that is the area Sherwonit found well-built; it is very popular because of the waterfalls that many campers like to see.
Because Byers Lake campground was closed, I did stay at the beautiful new campground called K’esugi Ken. It was well-built, lots of trails and even one up to Curry Ridge that an old lady like me could hike up not once, but twice. While there I asked the ranger about that new bridge at Byers Lake, how they got it up there; he said they waited for the lake to freeze and then had a vehicle drive it up. I hope they do the same with that awful south bridge too. I am surprised it is still standing.
I am not ready to take the parks department to task for neglect, I do believe they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. That was a huge amount of dead trees to remove, and I am sure it was a several-year process.
I’m loving the summer, hope you all do too.
— Milli Martin
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