A group of hunters have made it out of an area on the Butte Creek south of the Denali Highway, where they were stranded for several days by the swollen creek.
The hunters, from numerous hunting parties, were able to cross the creek once the high waters subsided. In total, there were about 68 people, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Garrett Bishop was among the hunters. He and his party arrived at the area on Sept. 15 and planned to leave on Sept. 21. Heavy rains on the 19th and 20th changed their plans, though, as the river waters rose about 5 feet, Bishop estimated.
Bishop and a friend went in search of another crossing point, but were unable to find one that would take less than a two-day hike.
Sunday, John James of Wasilla received a satellite phone call from a stranded friend. James had been up hunting in the same area but returned home on Sept. 19. He was asked to come back with supplies and extra people to help out.
When they got there, James' group threw a rope to the other side of the river, and the two sides fashioned a zipline to shuttle supplies back and forth.
"I think most Alaskans know that when they recreate in Alaska, it's the prudent thing to do to prepare," he said "Some of those folks had extra 24 hours worth of rations or something like that, and it depended on the camp or the individual I guess, but it varied from being out of food to getting down to the bottom of the barrel so to speak, so there were some folks who were glad to see us, and there were some folks who were real glad to see us."
Troopers were able to drop off food by helicopter and shuttle some children and people with medical issues to the other side of the river. With limited resources, though, the others had to wait for the water to go down.
On Wednesday, the waters of the creek finally receded enough for all terrain vehicles to begin crossing.
Bishop said he made it home Wednesday night around midnight.
Bart Barnes, 51, who was among the hunters, is still missing and presumed drowned, according to troopers. He reportedly tried to cross the creek on his four-wheeler on Sept. 24, when it tipped, and he was swept away in the water. Troopers have flown over the area and plan to do so more in search of him.
Spokeswoman Megan Peters said the search is made difficult by Barnes’ fully camouflaged clothing.