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GEAR: OUTERWEAR AUTUMN WILDLIFE FESTIVALS The Magazine of Life on the Last Frontier

ANWR: The Last Great Wilderness

Park Avenue:

A photoessay Fatbiking the White Mountains Recreation Area Jans’s On the Edge:

A despotic hummingbird


09.17 V OLUME 83, NUMBER 7

FEATURES

56

A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY

Park Avenue

BY PATRICK ENDRES

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The Last Great Wilderness

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains an unspoiled American treasure—for now BY E. DONNALL THOMAS JR.

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Susten Camp

Building a future by digging up the past BY MADISON DAPCEVICH

A sow brown bear and her cub eat blueberries in Chugach State Park, Photo by: MATTHEW QUAID/ greatnorthernimages.com

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09.17

DEPARTMENTS

KtoB 22 Experience Wasilla

QUOTED

26 Photographic

Wild Tundra Beauty

“ANWR is a dramatic, lonesome, beautiful wilderness in the classic sense. That alone makes it worth preserving..”

27 Made in Alaska Alaska Chicks

28 Ten Tips

Find Fall Colors

Escape 34 Sense of Place Quest for Parks

36 Rambles

Whales and Eagles

Adventure

54 40

–THE LAST GREAT WILDERNESS, E. DONNALL THOMAS JR. P. 64

WHITE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

40 Try This

Winter Playground

44 Out There

Proper Boots

46 Sportsman Season of the Moose

48 Gear

Oh, the Wind and Rain

PLUS: 6 My View North 10 Letters 12 Alaska Exposed 18 On the Edge 50 Natural Alaska 52 Alaska History

On the Cover: A bull caribou among Alaska’s colors of autumn. –Photo by Tom Walker.

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TOP: CHRIS BATIN; BOTTOM: DAVID SHAW

and Culture

54 Community 79 Alaska Interview 80 Where in Alaska


THE GMT-MASTER II Designed for airline pilots in 1955 to read the time in two time zones simultaneously, perfect for navigating a connected world in style. It doesn’t just tell time. It tells history.

OYSTER PERPE TUAL GMT-MASTER II IN 18 KT WHITE G OLD

rolex

oyster perpetual and gmt-master ii are ® trademarks.


With the aurora dancing, the author found it difficult to turn away and stand still for three seconds.

My View North Parting is such sweet sorrow

W

HEN I TOOK THE HELM OF ALASKA, I SINCERELY

thought about not writing My View North and not having a column at all until I gained some serious, Last Frontier experiences. I, however, looked back through the early issues, magazines dating back to the late 1930s, and realized an editor’s column had always has been part of Alaska (originally Alaska Sportsman). The original editor’s columns fell under the heading Main Trails and Bypaths. Somewhere along the way, Main Trails and Bypaths became My View North, a change that I believe more accurately reflects the wildest, most expansive, and most spectacular state in the union. I mean, you can find main trails and bypaths anywhere. But looking at those old magazines, I decided I couldn’t allow myself to avoid the responsibility I had assumed. The September 2016 issue carried my first column, kept the string of editor’s columns alive, and became the first issue of Alaska to bear my imprint. I wrote that first column knowing I had a lot to learn about Alaska. At that time, my view north existed in the Alaska I had known the first 40-something years of my life—a place that I fervently hoped to visit but in reality figured I never would. But my view north has put me on a slow-moving ferry from Juneau to Skagway, where I stood on the bow, with rain and wind blowing directly in my face, so I could take in the beauty of Inside Passage without the static of a crowd. My view north has seen me catch a first and second steelhead—each a dream come true. I hooked and fought a third steelie—bigger and stronger than the other two. But I lost him. The agonizing has yet to cease. My view north has put me on the front steps of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik. Certainly, places wilder, more remote, perhaps more wondrous exist. But more beautiful? Looking across the daisies in the cemetery, the church’s portico, and Cook Inlet to the mountains on the other side, I didn’t think so.

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Then my view north carried me to Wiseman in late autumn. The Brooks Range, snow covered and snow capped, punctuated by nights under a full moon and intermittent aurora, took me from the realm of “likely never would visit” into a near-magical reality that said, “This is concrete... right now.” And in addition to grand views and experiences, my view north put me on a staff of sweet, professional people and allowed me to work with thoughtful and talented photographers and writers. And I’ve met great people, Alaskans, who’ve shown me kindness for reasons no other than that’s their true nature. “Funny how life turns out.” That phrase concluded My View North in the previous issue. And that phrase still rings true. Not long after I wrote those words, I was offered the editor position with Gray’s Sporting Journal, a publication I worked for more than 12 years. The September 2017 issue of Alaska will be the last to bear my full imprint. Funny, indeed, how life turns out. I will never forget my view north. Russ Lumpkin


Alaska’s short summer is over. How do you cope?

This month at

alaskamagazine.com Log on and explore life on the Last Frontier.

The Magazine of Life on the Last Frontier GROUP PUBLISHER

Berry picking saves me from despair.

EDITOR

John Lunn Russ Lumpkin

SENIOR EDITOR

Susan Sommer

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

David L. Ranta

GEAR EDITOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

I watch a lot of football!

Bjorn Dihle

Head to Haines for the November bald eagle congregation.

Nick Jans Michelle Theall

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION DIRECTOR OF MANUFACTURING PRODUCT MANAGER ART DIRECTOR

Melissa Bradley Kris Miller Donald Horton

Pickling my carrot crop, deep cleaning my home, and finally taking it easy after the busy summer.

Mickey Kibler Ron Vaz

DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER

Seth Fields

DIGITAL IMAGING MANAGER

Erik Lewis

Tying flies through the darker months in anticipation.

ALASKA ADVERTISING SALES

Give us your best shot! Angelo Saggiomo’s photo from Juneau of an eagle perched on a humpback sculpture was one of the most popular photos last month on Alaska magazine’s Facebook page. Visit facebook.com/AlaskaMagazine to see more amazing imagery from the Last Frontier and post photos of your own. ➜ FACEBOOK POLL: Every issue, we run the results of a poll or survey taken from our facebook page. Check in to participate at facebook.com/AlaskaMagazine.

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A publication of Morris Communications Company, LLC 735 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 PRESIDENT DIRECTOR OF CIRCULATION

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Morris Communications Company, LLC CHAIRMAN William S. Morris III PRESIDENT AND CEO William S. Morris IV

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A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

Alaska, ISSN 0002-4562, is published monthly except for combined July/August and December/January issues by MCC Magazines, LLC, a division of Morris Communications Company, LLC. Editorial and Advertising Offices: 301 Arctic Slope Ave., Suite 300, Anchorage, Alaska 99518. Not responsible for the return of unsolicited submissions. Known office of publication: 735 Broad St., Augusta, Ga. 30901. U.S. subscription rates: $24 for one year; $46 for two years. Canada and Mexico add $20 per year (U.S. Funds only). Outside North America add $40 per year (U.S. Funds only). Our trademarks registered in the U.S. Patent Office and in Canada: “Alaska,” “Alaska Sportsman,” “Life on the Last Frontier,” “From Ketchikan to Barrow,” “End of the Trail,” “The Guide Post,” “Main Trails & Bypaths,” “Alaska-Yukon Magazine.” Periodicals postage paid at Augusta, Ga., and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Alaska, PO Box 433237, Palm Coast, FL 32143-9616. In Canada, periodicals postage paid at Winnipeg, Manitoba; second-class registration number 9771, GST No. 125701896. Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 279730. © 2017 Alaska magazine. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. Volume 83, Number 9.


Contributors >

MADISON DAPCEVICH (“Susten Camp,” p. 70) is a freelance environmental journalist and reporter for NbC montana. Originally from Alaska, she holds master’s degrees in environmental science and natural resources journalism from the University of montana and b.A. degrees in journalism and international relations from Humboldt State University.

ANNE MILLMAN (Sense of place, p. 34) has

written countless articles on travel, culture, science, and photography. She’s also written eight books on photography with her husband, Allen rokach, pictured here.

Alaska professional Hunters Association president SAM ROHRER (Community, p. 54) received his assistant-guide license in 1998 when he turned 18, his registered-guide license in 2001, and his master-guide license in 2013. rohrer lives in Kodiak with his wife and four kids. they own and operate rohrer bear Camp. September 2017 A L A S K A

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Why go Anwyhere Else?

I turned 82 this spring. I decided it was time to start my Bucket List for travel. I have about a dozen destinations listed so far. I found them all in Alaska. JOANNE NELSON Dillingham

A Goof

You don’t usually goof much, but in the July/August 2017 issue, on page 74, you incorrectly identified lowbush cranberries as ‘highbush cranberries.” ELLIE SCHNEIDER Delta Junction

Love the Dogs, Love the Race

Regarding “Love the Dogs, not the Racing” that ran in the Letters section of the June issue... I have been involved in the Iditarod Race and other sled-dog training runs for nearly 20 years, and no dog is ever forced to run. In fact, all you need to do is pick up a harness near the dogs and they will not be happy until they are hooked to the sled and then are not happy until they are running. That is not forced. NEIL HEISNER Port Charlotte, Florida

Most of the criticism about the Iditarod comes from people on the Outside who don’t understand how much the dogs love to run. Let Alaskans run Alaska.

In the vicinity of Mendenhall Lake, Romeo charmed Juneauites for six years before being killed by poachers.

Romeo

While at the doctors office, I picked up the March 2017 issue of Alaska. I started reading it and before I left the office, I had read 75 percent of the magazine. I have always been interested in Alaska and everything about it, so this was a great read for me. I soon ordered the subscription to Alaska and have enjoyed each month since. Thank you for the great, interesting and wonderful photos of the Last Frontier.

I enjoyed reading Nick Jans’s column in the July/August issue, “The Wolf Comes Home.” I left Indiana to retire in Florida, but I have traveled to Alaska so many times that I feel more Alaskan than Hoosier or Floridian. I have seen wolves many times, but one time near Peters Creek I saw a large male wolf with beautiful dark coloring standing in the middle of the road. Even though he was perhaps one-hundred yards away, we made eye contact with each other for a minute before he slowly trotted off into the woods. This was a thrill for me so I can imagine how thrilling it must have been for Nick’s much closer encounters with Romeo. Please, Nick, keep on writing,

JAMIE BETH PERRY Rochester, New York

NEIL HEISNER Port Charlotte, Florida

SHARRI WHITFORD Sterling

A Chance Encounter

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Gabriel King Photography shared this photo of Denali in all its glory on our Facebook page. It was a reader favorite. Visit Alaska at facebook.com/ AlaskaMagazine to see more stunning imagery from the Last Frontier and to post photos of your own..

Facebook Poll Results Tell us about an Alaska hunting trip. Below are a few reader comments from the poll question posted on facebook.com/AlaskaMagazine “We’d been hunting bears with our Canon lens near Haines. We were successful on the first evening, seeing a mother with three cubs. Met her again the next morning with her youngest while they ate salmon for breakfast.” ~ Wolf Schumann “My best friend and I have been hunting the same ridge in southeast Alaska for close to 15 years. It’s a brutal hike up but once you get up there, it has incredible views and great hunting with little hunting pressure. Looking forward to taking my son up there in a few years. ~ Ryan Tunks

“A 7-day caribou hunt in the Brooks Range turned into 13 due to a severe winter blizzard. We were prepared, but it was indeed the adventure of a lifetime. ~ Dan Duke

Where do you read Alaska? I’m serving in the Peace Corps in Madagascar. My parents send Alaska in my care packages. I love sharing the pictures of the awesome place I’m from with my students and our unique version of America. As you can tell from the cover [November 2016] it takes a little while to get to me! ~ Hillary Hunter, Petersburg, Alaska I just returned to the U.S. from Germany and Austria to visit places I lived as a young child (I grew up in Alaska). I hadn’t been back in 44 years and made sure to bring copies of Alaska with me. I am also looking forward to visiting Alaska for a week this fall with our youngest daughter. Thanks for a great magazine. ~ Scott Christianson, Tigard, Oregon In April 2017, I hiked down the South Kaibob Trail at the Grand Canyon to the Phantom Ranch and spent two nights. Here, I’m taking a break at Cedar Ridge, about halfway down the 7-mile trail, which drops in elevation more than 4,700 feet. ~ Rick Ukena, Ashland, Oregon My wife and I read and share Alaska with her family in Krasnoarmeysk, Ukraine. We dream of moving to and raising our family in the MatSu Valley. This photo was taken at the Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery (Ukraine Orthodox Church), founded in 1526. ~ Adam &Anya Kolar, Ft. Worth, Texas

Connect with us! Send us pictures of where you read Alaska and submit letters to the editor at editor@alaskamagazine.com.

SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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ALASKA EXPOSED Beach Bison

In the early 1980s, cattle farmers with grazing rights on Kodiak Island grew tired of losing livestock to brown bears and brought in bison, which have done well, and can be seen from the roads and on the beaches near Narrow Cape. Focal length: 300 mm Shutter speed: 1/640 sec Aperture: f/4 ISO: 400 CHERYL ESS/

snowshoemedia.com

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SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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ALASKA EXPOSED

Glacier Blue

A commercial fishing boat appears through thick fog on Bartlett Cove at Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. DESIGN PICS INC/ Alamy Stock Photo

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SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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ALASKA EXPOSED

Chum Line

Long-distance musher Jessie Holmes harvests salmon from the Tanana and tries “to remember what every elder has ever told” him about fish wheels. Focal length: 15 mm Shutter speed: 1/400 sec Aperture: f/2.8 ISO: 125 JAYME DITTMAR

SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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Flash BY NICK JANS

Klehini Valley, Haines

For the season, a rufous hummingbird called Flash dominates the flowerbeds and feeders around Nick’s home.

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I

SIT ON THE BACK STEPS, COFFEE IN

hand, soaking in the morning peace of our Klehini Valley homestead, 27 miles north of Haines. On this spring day, the tap-tap of a sapsucker drumming mingles with the rustle of cottonwood leaves; a half mile downhill, the white noise of the river echoes off the mountains. My reverie explodes in a reddish blur that almost parts my hair, and a shrill, emphatic chee-dee-deeeee! I’m staring into a pair of tiny, glaring eyes, hovering in space, an arm’s length away. Just as abruptly, the apparition vanishes, gone in an aerobatic backward roll and a whir of wings I can scarcely track. I’ve just been served notice by Flash— the male rufous hummingbird who’s laid claim to the three nectar feeders I’d hung off the back porch. No matter that there’s

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

enough food for dozens of birds; it’s all his, and he fearlessly confronts all comers, me included—though he weighs less than the tip of my little finger. From any of several nearby perches, he peers down, guarding his treasure, flashing his gorget (an iridescent, orange-red throat patch) like a laser to advertise his presence. That, or a sudden, diving attack from above is usually enough to rout any interloper; but every now and then, there’s a prolonged fight, complete with spiraling maneuvers, fierce little screeches, twitters, and chips. Less dominant birds are often forced out of the air. There are roughly a dozen other hummingbirds in the area that try to sneak in to feed, including one other bright male, several females, and a handful of immature birds, each identifiable by their plumage.

NICK JANS

Spiraling maneuvers, fierce screeches, twitters—dominance on display


Flash (left) perches for refreshment and will challenge any living being that approaches his feeders, even the drab females (right) of his species.

They succeed just often enough to keep trying; often one or two birds slip in while Flash is busy chasing another. To give others more of a chance, I’ve placed feeders on the other side of the house. Though he tries, Flash can’t be everywhere at once. Still, the air about my place is abuzz with the racket of wrangling hummingbirds from dawn through twilight—17 hours or more. When you think of ferocious Alaska wildlife, grizzlies, moose, and wolves come to mind. Uh, hummingbirds? In fact, many folks are surprised to discover these subtropical, delicate-seeming creatures at home in the Great Land. Nonetheless, southeast coastal Alaska hosts three migrant hummingbird species: rufous, Anna’s, and Costa’s. The latter two are occasional sightings. The rufous, on the other hand, is as much a part of the rain forest ambiance as glaciers and pink salmon. Find a bright patch of fireweed or other bright blooms (including planted gardens), and chances are you’ll find rufous hummingbirds buzzing about. While they draw quick energy from flowers and feeders, they also depend on protein from the seasonal abundance of insects, including aphids, mosquitoes, gnats, and spiders. Pound for pound (in fact, a full-grown rufous tips the scales at less than a fifth of an ounce), there is no feistier, tougher bird in all Alaska, and perhaps the world. Though among one of the world’s smaller hummingbird species, rufous are recognized as the most skilled fliers and the most aggressive. Not only will they successfully drive off hummingbird

species twice their size; they’ll attack pretty much any creature, including bears and humans, that gets too close to a staked-out food source. Their arsenal includes an array of sharp chips and buzzes, accompanied by (at least, from their point of view) fearsome displays. The chestnut-colored, brilliant-throated mature males such as Flash stake out the richest spots; the slightly larger, emeraldbacked, less aggressive females take whatever’s left. Even though the male has a vital genetic interest in attracting and mating with as many females as possible, he still rousts them from his food source. Rather than buying their affection, as one might expect, Flash relies on dazzling prospective mates with stylized dives, gorget flashes, and hovering displays. Apparently, the girls are attracted to the bling and energy he can afford to expend, shaking his tail feathers. Once mated—within a week of arriving at their Alaska breeding grounds—the females are totally on their own. They lay a tiny pair of eggs in an inch-wide, cup-shaped nest that’s woven from soft plant down and spider web silk, and camouflaged with bark and moss. The helpless, insect-sized young hatch in under three weeks, grow rapidly, and are flying just three weeks later—though they still depend a while longer on mom to feed them a regurgitated mix of small insects and plant nectar. The bright but short Alaska summer affords no time to waste. These young, inexperienced birds are just weeks away from an epic journey. Alaska’s rufous hummingbirds travel 2 to nearly 4 thousand linear miles each

spring between their core wintering grounds in the mountains of Mexico and their breeding territory, which extends throughout the Southeast Panhandle and as far north as Anchorage. By late July to mid-August they head southward again. Relative to their body size (3½ inches long, and less than a fifth of an ounce) one ornithologist figured this is the longest migration of any bird on the planet. It’s such an improbable journey that one folktale claims hummingbirds migrate on the backs of geese. In fact, however, each tiny bird seems to travel alone and follows a detailed inner map that leads, for most of the species, down through the Rocky Mountains from one food source to another—each one vital for replenishing a body that has virtually no fat reserves and hardly any mass. Exact timing and food availability is obviously critical and raises the question of the species’s vulnerability to climate change. It’s one thing for experienced, older birds to navigate, finding specific patches of flowers or feeders throughout all this distance, as research and birder reports confirm. But how do young birds, barely two months old, find their way? Perhaps they do tag along behind others, though there is no documentation of this behavior. Miracles sometimes come in tiny packages. Next time a rufous hummingbird whirs past, in all its fierce, featherjeweled finery, take a good look—just don’t get too close. Nick is a longtime contributing editor to Alaska and author of the national bestseller, A Wolf Called Romeo, available from nickjans.com. SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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09.17

Wasilla

Named after Chief Wasilla, a local Dena’ina Athabaskan chief, Wasilla began as a mining supply station. Today it remains a place to fuel up, stock up on groceries and goods, and find just about every other modern amenity imaginable. This fast-paced city of nearly 10,000 serves as a hub for those seeking easily accessible outdoor pleasures such as fishing, boating, snowmachining, and off-roading. Surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes, Wasilla is a sporting paradise.

Memorial statue of Balto the sled dog at the Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters in Wasilla. Balto was the hero sled dog of the 1925 serum relay from Nenana to Nome. JEFF SCHULTZ / AlaskaStock

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Wasilla

43 30 35

BY THE NUMBERS

Miles from Anchorage

Step back in time at the Dorothy Page Museum & Historic Town Site in downtown Wasilla. Inside the museum, tour a replicated mine and trading post. Learn about Iditarod founders Joe Reddington Sr. and Dorothy G. Page. Eight buildings in the town site include a oneroom school house and homesteaders’ cabins. Stroll through and imagine the deals that took place inside the log-cabin sauna that functioned as a meeting house and community center. cityofwasilla.com/departments-divisions/museum TOP PICKS

Lodging Wrap yourself in coziness at Hatcher Pass Lodge above tree line near the historic Independence Mine. Sleep and relax in rustic cabins year-round. hatcherpasslodge.com

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Food The Grape Tap offers fine dining with a robust beer and wine list in the heart of Wasilla. thegrapetap.com

Median age

Percentage of workforce that commutes to Anchorage

1,978 58.6° Number of business licenses

Average high temperature (F) in September

FUN FACT

Wasilla turns 100 this year!

Compiled by Susan Sommer

DESIGN PICS INC / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

EXPERIENCE

A 1970’s initiative to move the capital city from Juneau to Wasilla prompted then governor Jay Hammond to proclaim he’d move to Wasilla and sleep in a tent. The town erected this cabin to accommodate him. The capital never moved but the structure remains.


Field Dress For Success

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ONLY IN ALASKA

When 7 is too slow and 8 is out of control. Richard Packer was in Deadhorse on the North Slope last winter for an Army Airborne jump to demonstrate the versatility of Alaska’s U.S. Army paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division when he took this photo. Temperatures dipped to minus 60 degrees that day.

MEDIA

An 800-mile journey of discovery

Slow exploration; connection to the land and sea; cultural history; meeting Alaska’s people and wildlife on their own turf. This describes an adventure of 800 miles by foot and packraft around the shores of Cook Inlet by an intrepid couple—and their two young children. In Mud Flats and Fish Camps: 800 Miles Around Alaska’s Cook Inlet, award-winning adventure author and scientist Erin McKittrick recounts her family’s revelations and trials over five months of paddling and hiking the mostly wild coast. With a two-year-old and four-year-old in tow, McKittrick and her husband, Hig, strapped on backpacks and left Dogfish Bay, south of Homer, in packrafts one gray day in March. Although they stayed on or near the shore throughout the expedition, they moved through a world wildly different from the one their friends inhabited back in town. Tides rather than timeclocks ruled their progress. Weather transformed their moods. Short visits with residents along the way taught them new perspectives on Alaska life—from Old Believers to lodge owners to Native fishermen. Peppered with a philosophical take on Alaska’s unique wilderness, this memoir nevertheless remains solidly rooted in the mud of ordinary life. (Published in 2017 by mountaineersbooks.org.)

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Overheard:

“I might need to take a Xanax first but I would love to do this.” ~Woman considering a zipline in Southeast that drops 1,330 feet

DID YOU KNOW

Trappers Tell Their Stories Listen to oral history interviews with Alaska sourdoughs

In partnership with the Outdoor Heritage Foundation of Alaska, the Alaska Trappers Association has a treasure trove of stories from long-time Alaskans sharing their trapping and hunting adventures. Tor Holmboe says his wife taught him how to trap; Jim Rearden relates a harrowing landing in a small plane; June Moore faces down a grizzly; Dick Hamlin recalls a wolf that moved his traps without springing them. To hear more, go to alaskatrappers.org/interviews.html. Compiled by Susan Sommer

TOP: COURTESY CAPT. RICHARD PACKER, U.S. ARMY ALASKA PUBLIC AFFAIRS; BOTTOM: AURORA PHOTOS / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Mud Flats and Fish Camps


PHOTOGRAPHIC

Wild Tundra Beauty

Bearberry leaves turn bright red in autumn.

BY MICHELLE THEALL

Tundra is treeless land where permafrost is present. Denali is known for its alpine tundra, which differs in size and vegetation slightly from arctic tundra in the far northern areas of the state. Because moisture doesn’t seep into the permafrost, tundra maintains a springy, boggy, and wet consistency, which may feel to travelers like walking across a soft mattress. Once a tundra plant dies, it will take years for new growth to appear. The safest time to traverse 26

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

this terrain without harming the fragile ecosystem is during the winter months, when the plants are protected by ice and snow. White, lacy arctic lichens, green shoots of crowberry, and the shocking crimson leaves of bearberry plants paint splendid color across the floor of Denali and the Interior during the fall months. Bearberries may be eaten raw and made into jams. Crowberries, with their bitter, acidic taste are typically used in juices and jams. Canning is popular for year-round enjoyment.

(THIS PAGE) MICHELLE THEALL; (OPPOSITE PAGE) COURTESY OF ALASKA CHICKS

The autumn season in Denali bursts with color along the trails and at the end of the road in Kantishna, where this image was taken. The spongy undergrowth yields to impact from hikers and hooves, but doesn’t recover from footprints or car tires with the same resiliency it demonstrates in rebounding from the harsh winters.


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Alaska Chicks is one of those small businesses you just want to cheer for. Owned by Charity Folcik, it upcycles old furniture to make it new and appealing again, plus sells shirts, hats, and leggings that sport cool, original designs. Sayings like “Wild & Free,” “Seek Adventure,” “Explore,” and “Moose: It’s What’s for Dinner” adorn sweatshirts and tanks, trucker hats, and kids’ wear. Alaska Chicks’ re-imagined chairs, desks, and tables are stylish under new paint, distressed to a shabby chic finish. They often do giveaways or specials on their Facebook page. Check them out at alaskachicks.com.

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TEN TIPS

Find Fall Colors Leaf-peeping, Alaska style

BY SUSAN SOMMER

Deciduous shrubs and berry bushes color an Interior landscape.

1 If you’re still surrounded by green, go higher or farther north.

For yellows, look for stands of cottonwood (hint: they like water), as well as birch, aspen, willow, and mountain ash.

dirty socks as its berries ripen, don wine-colored leaves. Fireweed, which blooms fuchsia in July, sports carmine leaves in autumn. And in Southeast, there’s even the Douglas Maple, which is the northernmost maple growing in North America; its leaves turn brick-red.

3 For oranges, small poplar trees are the ticket. Spot them along Turnagain Arm and Eklutna Lake in Southcentral.

6 Don’t be deterred by termination dust on the mountains—new snow sets off colorful fall foliage like nothing else.

2

4

Some of the most stunning fall color photos include a mix of turning leaves and dark evergreens (the Kenai Peninsula has easy access to this mixture). 5 Reds range from the blood-red of bearberry leaves on tundra (think Denali Highway or the Seward Peninsula) to the burgundy tone of blueberry bushes. Dwarf birch, a shrub often covering mid-mountain slopes above tree line, shifts to crimson with colder nights. Highbush cranberry, the bush that smells like

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7

Calm lakes add double the color in their reflections.

8

Trust the experts: Take a fall colors tour.

9 Find accommodation deals during the fall shoulder season so you can travel in search of fall colors but still be warm at night. 10 Other plants like sedges and berries also provide bursts of color.

PANTHER MEDIA GMBH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Beginning in August and changing throughout September, Alaska’s fall colors—though nothing like the riot in our nation’s East—can nevertheless be a photographer’s dream. From the yellows of birch and cottonwood to the reds of bearberry and blueberry, and even a few orange leaves here and there, autumn’s deciduous rainbow brings vibrancy to our northern landscape. Try these tips to find the best hues.


COOL JOB COOL JOB

Environmental Scientist Travels Alaska

Beth Norris’s job as an environmental scientist takes her to far-flung regions of Alaska.

There is no typical day in the field for Beth Norris, an environmental scientist and project manager for an environmental firm based in Southcentral. On one trip she might be logging soil cores for a remedial investigation and the next she’s sampling groundwater monitoring wells. While her job is highly technical and includes work on contaminated sites investigations, long-term site maintenance and monitoring, and site closure, Norris also contends with logistics of remote travel in small boats and planes to access the sites. Equipment and supplies are also sent in via these transportation methods, and environmental samples are sent back out the same way since most of her work sites are not accessible by road. The Pribilof Islands—St. Paul and St. George—is Norris’s favorite remote location so far. “I like St. George the most,” she says, “because it is more remote than St. Paul and has large colonies of nesting sea birds including red-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmar, least auklets, and thick-billed murres. So, I get to work for 12 hours and then I get to hike and enjoy the natural beauty of the islands.” One of the beauties of Alaska life is having a job that pays you to travel to remote parts of the state and encounter beautiful sights and wildlife. As Norris says, “You just can’t beat it!”

NEWS

Alaskan Advances to NASA Training Program Robb Kulin could be really “out there”—as an astronaut, that is. NASA just accepted Kulin, born and raised in Anchorage, to its astronaut training program. Kulin is one of just 12 who rose to the top out of more than 18,000 applicants. He’ll train for two years before being considered for space missions. Once a commercial fisherman in Chignik as well as an ice driller in Antarctica, Kulin holds three advanced degrees—a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, a master’s in materials science, and a doctorate in engineering. Before joining NASA, Kulin worked as senior manager for flight reliability at SpaceX in California. In his free time, Kulin likes to fly (he’s a private pilot), play piano, shoot photos, and enjoy the outdoors via packraft, bicycle, and backcountry skis. 30

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

(THIS PAGE) TOP: COURTESY BETH NORRIS; BOTTOM: COURTESY OF NASA; (OPPOSITE PAGE) COURTESY BLM

Rob Kulin of Anchorage could be next Alaskan astronaut

caption

Compiled by Susan Sommer


NEWS

BLM Offers Digital Maps

Backcountry information at your fingertips Heading into the backcountry but don’t want to carry paper topo maps? No problem. The Bureau of Land Management now offers digital maps. Just download to your phone— then use the maps even without cell service. Areas include the Denali Highway, Dalton Highway, National Petroleum ReserveAlaska, Unalakleet National Wild River, Fortymile Wild and Scenic River, White Mountains National Recreation Area, and a few others. Public interest in digital maps spurred BLM to create these; digital maps are easier and cheaper to update than paper versions. Find maps at blm.gov/maps.

GEOGRAPHY

Alaska’s Southernmost Point is Not in Southeast Almost equidistant between Sapporo, Japan, and Anchorage, Alaska, is a tiny island called Amatignak. It’s claim to fame is being the southernmost point in the state at a latitude about the same as Dusseldorf. Amatignak Island sits just over 100 miles southwest of Adak in the Aleutian Chain and is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Tidal caves lace the island’s rocky cliffs, and a thin layer of soil sports grasses and wildflowers during summer. In 1932, the steamship Nevada, laden with merchandise on its way to Yokohama, ran aground at Amatignak during high seas at night. Only three of her 36 crewmembers survived and were rescued.

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In Bloom

Smoke from forest fires creates haze in the air over the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as seen from a mountaintop. Photo by: DAVID SHAW / AlaskaStock

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The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark stands a short hike from McCarthy and is a big attraction on Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

SENSE OF PLACE

Quest for Parks

M

Y LOVE AFFAIR WITH AMERICA’S

national parks began when I was a teenager. My parents took me on a road trip to Colonial Williamsburg, and along the way, we visited Shenandoah National Park, which took us into a world that existed before Europeans stepped foot on this land. Over the years, I made a point of visiting other national parks (59 total, including two in American territories) and began a campaign to explore them all—at least in the 50 United States. By 2014, I had visited all the parks in the Lower 48 and Hawaii. I had also visited Glacier Bay, and the time had come to return to Alaska. Boy, were Alaska’s parks different! Only three— Denali, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell-St. Elias—are on the road system, but since my husband and I were determined see Alaska’s most remote national parks, we booked flights on bush planes to explore Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark, and Katmai. Most national parks have well marked roads and trails to explore their interiors. Not Alaska’s. Generally,

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the parks here have few roads, and they’re either too rugged to drive, as we found in Wrangell-St. Elias, or they’re reserved for the park’s vehicles. Denali, which gets the most visitors, offers organized bus tours and allows private cars into the campgrounds but no farther. Only a few parks had the kind of trail system we had seen in parks of the Lower 48. We did enjoy a good hike at Kenai Fjords for close-up views of a glacier, and we walked around parts of Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias. With more time, we could have arranged hikes into Kobuk Valley to explore the amazing dunes. Also, while all national parks are set aside to conserve the country’s natural beauty and wildlife, Alaska goes all out to safeguard complex ecosystems that are home to wide arrays of wildlife. Although we spotted moose, caribou, Dall sheep and other indigenous species, we rarely got very close to them—and that’s how the park management wants it. Alaska’s parks are not just different from those on the mainland; they are distinct from one another. That begins with separating park lands from preserve. Sport hunting and trapping are allowed only within the preserve lands, but subsistence hunting and fishing by

ALLEN ROKACH

A crusade to see all the national parks terminates in Alaska, BY ANNE MILLMAN and one park stands out


The small town of McCarthy caters to the tourists and adventurers who pass through on their way to Wrangell-St. Elias, which is the largest national park in the country and home to nine of the 16 tallest mountains in North America..

local residents is permitted in both the park and preserve, which together provide an important source of food— about 22,000 tons or 375 pounds per person—for Native and rural Alaskans. Our month-long adventure gave us just a taste of each park. The one that really left its mark on us was WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve, a place of remarkable contrasts. Wrangell-St. Elias is the biggest park in the entire national park system— more than 13 million acres or the size of Switzerland plus Yosemite and Yellowstone combined. It’s very rugged. Volcanoes formed its mountains (Mount Wrangell, over 14,000 feet high, is the largest active volcano in the United States), plate tectonics caused their uplift, and huge glaciers continue to shape them. Habitats range from temperate rainforest to tundra, and though it’s an enormous wilderness, it contains a national historic landmark. We began our explorations at the terrific Visitor’s Center at mile 106.8 on the Edgerton Highway near Copper Center to get an introduction to this amazing park. Nearly 10 million acres are designated and managed as a wilderness area, the largest in the U.S. National Park system. Four major mountain ranges meet in the park: the Wrangells, Chugach, Saint Elias, and what’s known as the Nutzotin and Mentasta mountains. Also, it reaches from sea level at the Gulf of Alaska to heights greater than the Alps: Mount Saint Elias, the second-tallest mountain in the U.S. and Canada, stands just over 18,000 feet high compared to the Matterhorn at under 15,000 feet. This one park includes nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. More than a quarter of the park is covered with glaciers, including some of the longest in North America—up to 127 miles long. The Hubbard Glacier, North America’s longest tidewater glacier, has a terminal face that’s 7 miles wide and 600 feet tall, and it’s still advancing. It’s impossible to grasp all this enormity from the ground, so we opted to fly to McCarthy and Kennecott to get

a bird’s-eye view. McCarthy was a boomtown from 1903 to 1938, when the world’s richest copper deposits were exposed along the Kennicott Glacier. We landed in McCarthy then hiked up to the mine, where the buildings, now abandoned, compose the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. McCarthy and Kennecott offer lodging, meals, and companies that book treks on the glacier and other expeditions. We were happy with a ranger-led tour of the mine buildings, hiking between and around the towns, and admiring the

glacier at close range. We began this trip to Alaska as the end of a long campaign to visit all the national parks, but our brief encounter with the Last Frontier opened our eyes to so much more. We plan to visit again to see the caribou migration, float a river, witness the northern lights, and experience Alaska’s friendly people. Anne Millman, an avid New Yorker, loves nature, culture, and travel. She has shared her passions with her husband, children, grandkids, friends, and students.

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RAMBLES The highlight of every year’s festival is the eagle-release ceremony. Rehabilitated eagles are sent back into the wild...”

Whales and Eagles BY M.T. SCHWARTZMAN

Haines

Sitka The national bird is the center of attention during the annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival.

36

In

late fall, I watched the national TV weatherman describe the forecast across the country. A storm system was sweeping out of the Canadian Rockies and into the northern Plains. On the Inside Passage, I was north and west of the disturbance, and the local forecast called for clear, crisp days—perfect for November.

In the hotel dining room, people hurriedly ate their breakfasts. It seemed that everybody had someplace to go. The gentleman at the table next to me nodded a greeting, and we exchanged brief conversation. He planned to hunt. I planned to save the whales. Every fall, Sitka hosts its annual WhaleFest, which in 2017 convenes from November 3 to 5. Immediately following that, nearby Haines hosts its annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, which this year runs from November 6 to 11. The timing of

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

the two events so closely together makes it possible to combine both in a single itinerary. Besides wildlife-watching opportunities, such a trip to the Inside Passage in November affords a number of other benefits. For starters, all the summer tourists are gone, and you get a sense of the real Alaska. Another unexpected bonus is the weather: It’s really not that cold, with temperatures on the northern Inside Passage typically in the 40s and 50s. The fastest way to travel between Sitka and

(THIS PAGE) WILLIAM MCROBERTS, COURTESY AMERICAN BALD EAGLE FOUNDATION (OPPOSITE PAGE) COURTESTY WHALEFEST

Sitka and Haines host back-to-back fall wildlife festivals


Haines is by commuter air service via Juneau. The ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System—again by way of Juneau—are another option, albeit slower. Once in Sitka you won’t need a car, but in Haines you’ll need transportation to the eagle preserve. Some people choose to rent a vehicle (there are three agencies including Avis), but van service is also available. Accommodations in Sitka are conveniently located at downtown hotels just a short walk from the newly renovated Centennial Hall, which serves as headquarters for the WhaleFest. In Haines, why not try staying at a local bed-and-breakfast? The visitors bureau keeps a list of B&Bs that are open year-round, and you can find the list online at visithaines.com The Sitka WhaleFest, now in its 21st year, is a three-day event that incorporates a wide range of activities, from the academic to the artistic. Humpback whales are abundant in the waters surrounding Sitka during November, feeding before they migrate to warmer waters. The centerpiece of the festival is a three-day symposium, which draws marine researchers from all over the world. Speakers give presentations, held each afternoon, that relate to the overall theme of the conference (this year’s theme is “The Making Of: Behind the Scenes of Science”). While the lectures are scientific in

nature, they are designed for lay people, and I personally found them quite fascinating. Registration for the three-day conference is $75, but you can buy a single-day pass for $35 or attend individual lectures for $15 (several talks are scheduled each day). Another highlight of the conference are the Saturday and Sunday whale-watching cruises, which cost $55 (after sitting in an auditorium hearing about the whales, you’ll surely want to get out on the water and see them). Other events include a concert, social, and banquet, priced at $5 to $45. A full schedule and online registration are available at sitkawhalefest. org. For more information call 907-747-8878 or email whalefest@sitkascience.org. Now in its 23rd year, the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is sponsored by the American Bald Eagle Foundation, which has its headquarters in Haines. Every November, thousands of bald eagles congregate along the banks of the Chilkat River to feed on a late run of salmon, and this phenomenon is what draws eagle-watchers from far and wide to this small community south of Skagway. Vans leave daily from the foundation’s natural-history museum, a few blocks from the center of town, and head for the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. In addition, there are daily naturalhistory presentations, raptor-center tours, and

other bald eagle–related activities. The highlight of every year’s festival is the eagle-release ceremony. Rehabilitated eagles are sent back into the wild, and seeing them take flight is truly inspiring. Registration for the six-day festival is $200, but sign up for just a single day is only $35. Passes for van transportation to the eagle preserve are $20 a day. Other options include a closing banquet for $50 and feather-painting workshops for $25. A schedule of events and online registration is available at baldeagles.org. For more information call 907-766-3094 or email info@baldeagles.org. As always when visiting Alaska, dress in layers and be prepared for a variety of conditions: You’ll be spending time at these festivals both indoors and out. Expect a little rain and perhaps even a touch of November snow. You’ll want to bring a good camera too; a smartphone will do, but I recommend a digital SLR. Binoculars are useful for spotting bald eagles, although there are so many they’re impossible to miss—look for what appear to be golf balls in the trees.

M.T. Schwartzman has been covering Alaska’s tourism industry for more than 25 years and has written hundreds of magazine articles on the state and edited several guidebooks.

The Sitka WhaleFest features a three-day, scientific symposium and fun stuff for non-scientists.

SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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09.17

E XPE RIE NC E T HE L A ST F RO N T IE R

Streets of Gold

Backpackers in Gates of the Arctic National Park trek along the shore of Arrigetch Creek, with Xanadu, Arial, and Caliban peaks in the background. Photo by:

PATRICK J ENDRES / alaskaphotographics.com

39


TRY THIS

Winter Playground

The White Mountains offer recreation and accommodation

I White Mountains National Recreation Area More than 250 miles of trails run through White Mountains National Recreation Area. The Bureau of Land Management grooms the trails regularly for skiing, dogsledding, fatbiking, and other winter sports.

40

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M SEPTEMBER 2017

WAS DESCENDING THE WICKERSHAM

Wall on my fat bike. No, not the dramatic north wall of Denali, though as the spruces whipped past and the flat light and falling snow obscured my vision, it may as well have been. This Wickersham Wall, which I rode down, barely in control, is an infamous hill on the Wickersham Creek Trail in Alaska’s White Mountains National Recreation Area. I was on my way to the Borealis LeFevre cabin, but as another bump sent my tires into the air, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. The White Mountains are a surprise. They emerge unexpectedly from the otherwise rolling boreal hills of the Interior. From the contiguous forest, they rise in a scattering of jagged limestone peaks, tundra-clad mountainsides, and

meandering rivers. The national recreation area, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is home to an extensive network of winter trails encompassing hundreds of miles and more than a dozen public-use cabins. Borealis LeFevre, where I was headed, was one such cabin, and it sits on a bluff just above Beaver Creek. Having somehow survived my descent of the Wickersham Wall (and dreading the climb it would require on my return) I pedaled on. Fat-bike travel through the Whites would be near impossible without the BLM’s hard-working crews, who are a big part of what makes winter in the Whites so enjoyable. Every week, and after each significant snowfall, BLM employees head out into the mountains

DAVID SHAW

BY DAVID SHAW


Cabins, such as this Borealis LeFevre, are scattered throughout the recreation area and are often reserved, even during the cold-weather months.

and use snowmachines to pull drags that pack and groom the trails. The result is a network of beautiful hard-packed trails perfect for skis, fat bikes, dog sleds, and snowmachines. Two-hundred fifty miles of groomed trails traverse the White Mountains Recreation Area—so many miles that even during peak season of March and early April, you are unlikely to feel crowded. The scattered cabins, however, are often in high demand—particularly on weekends—and booking a month in advance (recreation.gov) is a good idea. Gaining access to most of the cabins in the Whites requires a trip into the backcountry—only one cabin allows drive-up access. Of the backcountry cabins, the nearest to the trailheads are around eight miles, while the farthest require journeys of 40 or 60 miles. The remainder of the route to Borealis LeFevre was largely flat, but a few steep hills reminded me I was still in the mountains. At the bottom of one steep pitch, a pool of overflow collected across the trail. Overflow is open water, pushed

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to the surface through the snow or ice by underground springs. It’s common to encounter overflow in the Whites and elsewhere in the Interior, and it always warrants caution, so I stopped to assess the situation. My companions rode up behind me, dismounted their bikes, and started picking their way around the edge of the pool, but the slushy water didn’t look dangerously deep, and I could see through to the apparently hard-packed trail beneath the surface. I can make it through this, I thought. Thirty seconds later, my bike buried to the disc brakes in thick slush. I was bold. I was stupid. Fortunately, I was also prepared. I was wearing waterproof boots and gaiters so was able to stomp my way through the slush to the safety of the firm trail on the other side. A foot-soaking plunge on a sub-zero day in the White Mountains, miles from the nearest cabin or road, can be a formula for frost bite. The only casualty, however, was my pride. Two hours later, the frozen crust long since broken off my boots and bike tires, we rode across the ice of Beaver Creek and pushed our bikes up the steep hill to the cabin. Inside, it was still warm thanks

to the previous night’s residents. The floor was swept clean and the wood box stocked with kindling and logs. There is an unspoken rule about cabin ethics in Alaska: always leave the cabin how you’d like to find it. In these remote areas, it’s more than a courtesy, it’s a matter of safety. The next visitor might be in trouble, cold, or wet from an encounter with open water, and they might need to warm up quickly. A well-stocked wood box can be a literal life-saver. That night, fire crackling in the wood stove, hot chocolate spiced with a shot of whiskey, my friends and I kicked back and watched the snow fall outside. We were down to our shirt-sleeves, leaning back against the rough-hewn logs of the cabin walls, a propane lantern shedding warm yellow light. We were the only people for a dozen miles, surrounded by public lands that belonged to all of us. This, I thought to myself, was a big part of why I lived in Alaska. The hidden gems of our state, such as the White Mountains, are a joy to discover. David W. Shaw is a writer, photographer, and guide living in Fairbanks. He writes about Alaska’s natural history at www.david-wshaw.com.


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OUT THERE

Proper Boots

Proper footwear is important, especially when the skiff goes dry

O Ketchikan

The author, post dry skiff, enjoys a walk on the beach in her warm and waterproof rubber boots.

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NE OF MY MOST UNUSUAL

adventures as a newcomer to Alaska took place over the New Year’s holiday in 1977. My cousin Randy and his friend Art had gone to the fiords south of Ketchikan to run a trapline for the winter. I had earlier promised to charter a plane and take them supplies. They didn’t know when to expect me, if ever, so they were delighted to hear my plane land in the inlet where they were staying in a U.S. Forest Service cabin. I sure as heck didn’t know what supplies meant to men on a trapline. They were down to pilot bread and a few canned goods, and were thrilled to see me. I also got points for bringing whiskey, but when I served dinner that first night, they looked as if they were going to cry. I had served gourmet cheese blintzes and am lucky they didn’t

put me on a spit and roast me! It’s really a good thing I took the whiskey. That night, though, I saw the sky like I had never seen it before. We were so far away from any lights on land that the stars really showed their true colors— like the Milky Way was a diamond bracelet and the jeweler had just thrown loose gemstones around to display it in. Unforgettable. The next day, they decided to teach me how to handle a gun. Art lined up a series of beer cans on stumps, and Randy showed me how to use the safety, load ammo, etc. Of course, I didn’t know a .357 magnum from a crow bar, but before I started shooting I noticed the boys putting earplugs in and stepping back. That gave me pause, but I aimed and fired. My arm shot up and almost out of socket. I would have stopped right

PRISCILLA MORSE

BY PRISCILLA MORSE


[RIGHT] The author spent summers in Meyers Chuck, pictured here in the late 1970s. [BELOW] This is how Thomas Basin looked about 40 years ago.

then except that I had hit the beer can straight on! I continued to hit the cans and saw Art and Randy nod to each other. I guess that was when they decided I could go on the trapline. Now, I had no interest in that, but I didn’t want to sit alone in the cabin waiting for them to return, either. So I went. I did not have appropriate gear—my fashionable Frye cowgirl boots were not meant for a trapline in a rain forest. But, off we went in a 16-foot Lund loaded with gas tanks, an anchor, trapping gear, and me already shivering. After a couple of hours of quick stops we entered a lagoon where the guys told me they would be gone for an hour or so and I needed to make sure the “skiff didn’t go dry.” I stupidly said, “Okay,” thinking How would it go dry with all this drizzling rain? Randy left me with the gun I had brilliantly mastered earlier. Well, I really thought I understood the concept of tides, but up till that point in my life, I had always moored in boats floating in deeper water. But then something happened. I had been rocking to keep warm, but when I stopped, I looked down and saw mud all around the Lund—the skiff had gone dry. It all came

clear to me, suddenlike. Another 12 hours would pass until the water would float the boat again, and we would be in the wilderness for the night with no cabin or food, and surrounded by wolves, bears, and, according to Randy, Sasquatch. I had to get the boat floating again! I unloaded the tanks and gear, and then unscrewed and removed the motor. I turned the boat around so the hull faced the water, and I pushed on the stern. It was too hard to push without lifting, so I developed a system whereby I rested one side of the stern on my hip, lifted, and pushed as far as I could. Then, I did the

same on the other side, and so on. Alternating sides, I maneuvered her at least 500 feet until I got her floating again, climbed in, and kept her afloat by pushing out with an oar, just as I should have done from the beginning. Before long the guys came out of the woods and surveyed the situation. They started carrying the strewn contents of the Lund back to the boat, trip by trip. They hooked up the outboard, and never said a word except “Guess the skiff went dry, huh?” My punishment was that, as wet as my boots were, as exhausted and cold as I was, and although it was dark, they finished working the trapline. Would it have killed either one of them to say “thanks” for working so hard to get the skiff back in the water? I don’t know who was angrier at whom, but exhaustion has a way of making it not matter. We eventually got to the cabin, got warm, and drank some whiskey. I also prepared steaks, which earned me hero status. As I went to sleep that night I felt more sure than ever that trapping was not for me. And the first thing I bought when I got back to Ketchikan was a pair of knee-high Uniroyals. Yep, warm and waterproof ! Priscilla Morse moved to Ketchikan in 1976 and for the next 40 years, lived all over the state. She, however, calls Ketchikan her hometown of Alaska.

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ALASKA SPORTSMAN

Season of the Moose One doesn’t just shoot a moose BY CHRISTOPHER BATIN

for Alaskans. Businesses close shop, camouflage clothing sales spike, and many kids take off from school to partake in the start of moose season. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, and baptisms are often referred to as Before Moose Season and After Moose Season. For me, the reasons moose are so important are obvious. I’ve hunted Alaska moose for more than 42 years. I’ve watched them grow and play in our yard. They’ve kept my family and me nourished. And calling moose is the greatest big-game experience in North America, if not the world. Alces alces gigas are the largest member of the deer family, a big bull moose can stand up to seven-feet tall at the shoulder, can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, and sport racks that are wider than most men are tall. But pull the trigger on a moose with this caveat: If you shoot a moose three miles from base camp (as I once did), plan on carrying eight to ten packloads of meat—including two trips hauling out those 125-pound (apiece) hindquarters—plus the rack and your gear. Expect to cover 30 miles, hauling and deadheading the same distance with an empty pack for a total of 60 miles. Rucking this distance should be the least of your concerns. Some of the packing will require stumbling through leg-breaking alders that grow thicker than sea otter fur or slugging out bear-attracting meat on your blood-and-scent-soaked backside that will attract countless biting flies and gnats. Be forewarned. There are no safety A bull moose yields a lot of meat. Minus pack animals, you won’t haul it out with one trip. Killing one close to a road can save a lot of effort.

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Moose is a clean, wholesome natural food.”

zones in Alaska’s accident-prone, moose backcountry. A raft loaded with moose meat can easily capsize in rapids; a typhoon-class storm can bite through leaky raingear and inflict crippling hypothermia; or rogue bears famous for their night raids can devour your 10-day food supply in a single night—or worse. For me, however, all the work of hunting and packing moose meat is worth it—for the meat and the hunting experience. I recall a bull in western Alaska’s Innoko drainage. Fueled by the rut, he blindly approached my stand and came to within 20 yards. With each call I offered with a scapula, he thrashed saplings with his

huge rack. He was ready for battle and occasionally, his thrashing uprooted small trees and sent dirt my way. When the bull finally bellowed, I knew the language. He was establishing dominance. The rush from calling moose confounds exercise physiologists: I can reach maximum heart rate by being absolutely still. But one just doesn’t just shoot a moose, which is why Alaska’s Native community has emphasized the importance of educating a new generation of moose hunters. I had the privilege of meeting Cliff Adams, a resident of Beaver Village who teaches subsistence moose-hunting skills to the younger men in his village.

THIS PAGE: CHRIS BATIN RIGHT: CHRIS BATIN (TOP); ALAMY (BOTTOM)

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Most of the moose racks you see on buildings throughout Alaska make it out of the woods in fashion similar to this.

“It’s important to show these young men and women the social and cultural reasons for distributing meat to our village residents who are unable to hunt,” he said while trimming a hindquarter. I saw the value of this education in the ear-to-ear smile of an elderly Native woman when Adams presented her with a large package of moose meat. A fresh moose head, nose, heart and kidneys are also appreciated delicacies. Moose is a clean, wholesome natural food because these ungulates eat river-edge willows and succulents that have grown undisturbed in wilderness pastures since the last Great Ice Age. Through this communion, we metamorphose into a people who become one with the land and all that it is; from mountain bedrock dust and devil’s club to glacier-melt micronutrients and eons-old stardust from distant galaxies. From a culinary perspective, moose meat doesn’t stand alone on the Alaska dinner table. Complementary side

harvests of dip-netted sockeye salmon, hand-picked wild blueberries, black-tail deer, sport-caught halibut, and snowshoe hare offer year-long benefits that also help to physically and spiritually define us as Alaskans. The confidence of the grizzly or bull moose empowers us in business meetings and personal adversities; the stamina of the salmon pushes us upward in the Mount Marathon race; and our unique individualities are reflected in a pail of multi-colored berries picked from a glacial amphitheater in the Chugach Mountains. The Season of the Moose won’t go viral because the world can’t electronically replicate moose hunting’s sounds, sights, and tastes of the season. You have to experience it—in person—to truly reap the rewards.

When you do make it to Alaska’s moose country and experience a bull moose roar that makes your hair stand on end, just dig a rutting pit with a few quick kicks of your heel to signal you’ve became part and parcel to the Season of the Moose. I guarantee it’s the start of an Alaska tradition that won’t disappoint. Christopher Batin is a national awardwinning author, columnist, and educator with over a dozen books and DVDs on Alaska fishing, hunting, and the outdoors available at www.alaskaangler.com.

Moose commonly forage aquatic vegetation. They also eat forbs, berries, and shoots from willow and birch.

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GEAR

Oh, the Wind and Rain Rain gear that stands up to Alaska BY BJORN DIHLE

After a month-long adventure in Yukon with my girlfriend, she and I picked up a hitchhiker there who was from Montreal and headed to Skagway. As soon as we crossed into Alaska, the weather changed from sunshine to dark clouds and rain. “Welcome to Alaska,” I told the hitchhiker. “You sure you don’t want to go back to Canada?” While Alaska is most famous for subzero temperatures, it can also be wet and windy. Rain gear, rubber boots, and dry bags will greatly increase your comfort in the Alaskan outdoors. Here are five products I tested and recommend.

Editor’s Choice Cabela’s Guidewear Advance Parka I spent much of April and the first part of May testing Cabela’s Guidewear Advance Parka. I was surprised by how well built it is and how much I like it. On a 10-day trek on Kodiak Island, it kept me warm and dry despite chilly temperatures, lots of wind, and a fair amount of precipitation. I wear this parka during the nastiest days while I guide brownbear viewing tours. From having made a number of trips across the Arctic and various icefields, I recommend the Guidewear Advance Parka and Bibs for serious fourseason expedition outerwear. The jackets and bibs are a little heavy but are worth the weight for their durability. I will be using them on the next long cold trek I make to the Arctic. cabelas.com;$399

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Grundens Stormlight Jacket The Stormlight Jacket packs down so small that you’ll never wonder whether or not you have room in your backpack for it. Made from nylon neostretch material that is waterproof and breathable, I found it ideal for day trips when the weather forecast wasn’t too scary. I used it for sooty grouse hunting in the spring and bring it along on alpine hikes. So far, it’s kept me dry and happy as a clam at high tide. It’s a great jacket for all but the most masochistic of outdoor adventurers. grundens.com;$180

Sitka Gear Cloudburst Jacket Sitka Gear has become the most common outerwear brand you’ll see in Alaska. When I was in Kodiak last spring it seemed like there was a Sitka Gear fashion convention going on. I was already sold on Sitka’s base layers and found their Cloudburst jacket and pants equally up to the challenge of soggy and windy days. Both the jacket and pants are waterproof, windproof, breathable, and lightweight. Plus, the zippers and pockets are built tough. I spent weeks on Admiralty Island and in Yukon wearing the Cloudburst and kept bone dry despite lots of rain and wind. I would recommend trying on the jacket and pants before purchasing. In my opinion they run a little small. This is the ideal set of three-season raingear. sitkagear.com; $349

XTRATUF Legacy 2.0 Rubber Boots Having hiked thousands of miles in XTRATUFS and spent much of my life fishing and hunting in them, so I may be a bit biased. This fall XTRATUF is coming out with the Legacy 2.0, redesigned for better traction, bigger calves, and added protection for ankles and shins. I didn’t have much time to test a pair but found them comfortable and seemingly more durable than my old XTRATUFS—which are still the best rubber boot on the market. Designed for the wet, cold, and slippery conditions of commercial fishing, these boots are equally adept at tackling the coastal mountains, swamps, and a night on the town. xtratufboots.com; $135

Tepui Expedition Series Duffle Bag Whether you’re looking for a new “suitcase” or a durable waterproof bag for your skiff, this rugged duffle was made for travel in Alaska. Bright orange with 28x15x15-inch dimensions, there is plenty of room for gear for day or multi-day trips. The bottom is reinforced with a panel and the straps have a comfortable grip. I’ve been using mine out on the water while fishing for salmon and halibut and am pleased with it. tepuitents.com: $135

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A dramatic decline makes the slow rebound all the more amazing BY PETER MATHER

TOK A large congregation of caribou move up a hillside as they migrate northward during their summer migration.

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F

OR HALF AN HOUR, OUR PILOT,

Mike, had been circling his small fixed-wing aircraft over the Alaskan landscape near Tok, as my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Maya, and I scanned the ground below for signs of caribou. We’d already made a 10-hour drive from our home in Whitehorse, Yukon, and chartered an airplane to get this far. Now we were looking for results and getting anxious. We were in search of the Fortymile caribou herd, which had begun to re-occupy major portions of its historic range—an area almost the size of Nova Scotia and that stretched from summer grounds near Fairbanks to wintering grounds in the Yukon. Once among the largest caribou herds in North America, numbers had declined to about 6,000 in the early 1970s. Caribou had been practically absent in this area for decades but were coming back in significant numbers following successful recovery efforts. Though you might not have known that from looking out the windows of Mike’s plane, he is an expert at finding

the herd and assured us we would see caribou. I was not so confident. My thoughts flashed back to a trip I’d made in the spring to Canada’s Ivvavik National Park to photograph and film the 200,000-strong Porcupine herd. The plane I’d chartered with my travelling partner—Australian filmmaker Marty Obrien—malfunctioned, and we were forced to land 74 miles shy of our destination. Undeterred, Marty and I spent the next 10 days skiing to Ivvavik, towing more than 220 pounds of gear and supplies. We reached our destination to intercept the migrating herd but spent another 10 days waiting for the caribou. They arrived only in dribs and drabs, and we left with nothing to show for our efforts. Meanwhile, a BBC crew of 20 people, just six miles away, filmed tens of thousands of caribou, along with grizzly bears and wolves. Mike finally said, “We’ve got a landing strip about twelve miles west of here. I suspect the caribou have headed in that direction. Want to check it out?”

PETER MATHER

The Fortymile Herd


Twelve year old Maya Cairns-Locke heads home after a few days of living with caribou.

Maya and I were ready for anything. In 1920, a wildlife biologist named Olaus Murie witnessed the migration of the Fortymile herd, and he spoke of an awesome spectacle. Caribou covered strips of land up to 62 miles wide, and the river of animals took as long as 20 days to pass individual spots. Based on these observations, he calculated the size of the herd at more than 550,000 animals. Murie’s calculations almost certainly represented the very peak in the Fortymile herd’s population. Perhaps more stunning, though, is the story of the herd’s decline. By the 1970s, the number of caribou had fallen to an estimated 6,000 animals, while the migratory range shrank to Alaska only. Several factors contributed to the decline, with severe weather and predation taking heaviest toll. Human activity,

notably the construction and upgrading of highways running north of Skagway and Haines, also played a role. The roads themselves bisected the herd’s migration routes and opened transportation corridors that, coupled with loose hunting regulations, put added pressure on the struggling herd. By the early 1990s, the herd’s population had recovered to about 20,000 animals. But that did little to assuage the memories of those who could recall the past. Steve Taylor, chief of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation in Dawson City, Yukon, believed more could be done. He contacted Alaskan officials with a proposal to create a grassroots organization committed to rebuilding the Fortymile herd. The proposal quickly gained traction, and by the mid-1990s, a five-year program was in place involving First Nations, government

agencies, and other stakeholders. One key element of the program focused on maintaining habitat to support the growth of the herd. Critical areas, such as calving grounds, were identified and shared with resourceexploration companies, to help avoid disturbing the caribou. Hunting quotas were substantially reduced, and subsistence hunters were encouraged to hunt healthier herds. The Yukon territorial government closed licensed hunting altogether, and the Tr’ondek Hwech’in offered not to hunt any Fortymile caribou that crossed the border. The most novel aspect of the program involved controlling wolf predation. Knowing that culls would be politically sensitive, the group instead developed a sterilization program that targeted alpha pairs to slow population growth. Subordinate pairs were also re-located. The results were a glowing success. By 2003, the Fortymile caribou had climbed to more than 43,000 individuals. That same year, members of the herd crossed the Yukon River for the first time in 30 years. And progress didn’t stop there. Today, the population is estimated at 50,000 and the caribou returned to their historic Yukon winter range in large numbers in 2013. Back in the plane, I soon learned why Mike had a reputation for finding the Fortymile herd. As we approached the landing strip, he swooped down over a boulder-strewn gravel bar. A dozen caribou scattered and jumped into the shallow water. The caribou were right where Mike thought they would be. He made a couple more passes to clear the runway and then brought us down on what could best be described as a boulder field. Maya and I felt like we’d hit the jackpot. We spent the next two days photographing caribou that streamed steadily out of the willow forest, walked the shallow river in groups of 20 to 100, and climbed impossibly steep hills over the horizon. Peter Mather is a photojournalist based in Whitehorse, Yukon. His work focuses on outdoor adventure, wildlife, conservation, and the First Nations people of the North. He is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and is represented by National Geographic Creative. SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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Cold Case

A book helped find a Stampeder’s final resting place

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IX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, IT TURNS

out, can span an entire century and two continents. The book, Gold Rush Wife (Ember Press, 2016) about the Turnagain Arm gold rush of 1896, helped solve a family mystery in Norway, which in turn added to the historical veracity of a stampede that predated the Klondike gold rush. One hundred years ago, the last his Norwegian family had heard from 63-year-old gold miner Tallef Hammers was a letter he sent from Sunrise, Alaska. Hammers left Norway in 1880 at the age of 38 seeking a new life in America. He made his way to Seattle where he worked as a carpenter and in real estate. Like others who This photo from 1890 shows the had fallen on hard times, the promise of gold family of Tallef Hammers, who left lured Hammers north in 1896. In that last letter, them behind 10 years earlier dated May 1, 1907, Hammers wrote that he was to look for a new life in America.

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headed back to Seattle for treatment of an illness. No one heard from him after that. For years, Hammers’s family wondered what became of him. Fast forward one hundred years. Today all that remains of Sunrise is a historic archaeological site and small cemetery overlooking Sixmile Creek. Rolfe Buzzell, a historian recently retired from the State of Alaska Office of History and Archaeology, has made it a lifelong, personal quest to capture and preserve not only the artifacts but also the spirit of one of Alaska’s most important gold-rush communities. What first fired Buzzell’s interest was a manuscript titled “Memories of Old Sunrise” penned by stampeder Albert “Jack” Morgan. Buzzell researched the manuscript’s authenticity and turned it into a book that he edited and wrote the introduction for (Ember Press 2013).

THIS PAGE: NORSE FOLKEMUSEUM NEXT PAGE: ROLFE BUZZELL

BY KAYLENE JOHNSON-SULLIVAN


Dr. Rolfe Buzzell is a historian who edited and published two books that focused on Sunrise, Alaska. The books helped descendants of Tallef Hammers discover what became of their long-lost ancestor.

Buzzell also had a manuscript by the daughter of Nellie Frost, a friend of Morgan and resident of Sunrise. This manuscript offered a woman’s first-hand account of many of the same stories that Morgan told. As with Memories of Old Sunrise,, Buzzell edited and wrote the introduction to Gold Rush Wife, which was published through the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm (KMTA) National Heritage Area. Earlier this year, in Bergen, Norway, Torjus Midtgarden, the great-grandson of the missing T. Hammers, did an internet search and discovered Memories of Old Sunrise and Gold Rush Wife. He contacted KMTA National Heritage Area explaining how the family never knew what happened to their relative. He hoped to learn more about his great-grandfather and his life as a gold miner in Alaska. Midtgarden was put in touch with Dr. Rolfe Buzzell and the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Buzzell and Midtgarden shared photos, historic documents, and newspaper clippings. Buzzell found Hammer’s obituary in the June 1, 1907, Seward Weekly Gateway. Hammers passed away May 7, 1907, just a week after writing his last letter home. He was buried two days later at the Point Comfort Cemetery at Sunrise. Buzzell knows the cemetery well, having overseen the restoration of Point Comfort in 1995. Now the Hammers family knows where their relative is buried; and Buzzell has accounted for one of the unmarked graves that he always wondered about. From Midtgarden, Buzzell learned that Hammers was the eldest son of 12 living

children and that he had inherited the family farm. “He left Norway in 1880 after a conflict with his wife and having to sell or pledge his family’s farm,” Midtgarden wrote. “He bought and sold timber in the 1870s when the prices were high but the prices suddenly dropped and he went bankrupt.” Hammers left behind his wife, a 1-year-old daughter, and a 3-year-old son. Hammers was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1896 and Midtgarden doubts if he ever intended to return to Norway. Investigating his great-grandfather’s travel dates and the schedules of the SS Mexico and the SS Bertha, Midtgarten discovered that Hammers sailed on the

“In a letter dated May 1, 1907, Hammers wrote that he was headed back to Seattle for treatment of an illness. No one heard from him after that.”

same ships as Gold Rush Wife’s, Nellie Frost, and her husband, Jack. He is listed along with the Frosts on a roster of just 141 residents in the Sunrise district in 1897–98. The Frosts mined in the summer and ran a general store in the winter. Although thousands went north looking for gold, surely the Frosts and Hammers crossed paths from time to time. They may have even shared coffee over Nellie’s famous home-baked chocolate cake. Through the curiosity of a great-grandson, the research of a historian, and the publication of Gold Rush Wife, a mystery was solved. While history is often considered a study of bygone days, it turns out in the end, that the past is still being written Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan’s most recent book is Our Perfect Wild: Ray & Barbara Bane’s Journeys and the Fate of the Wild North (University of Alaska Press, 2016). As her day job, she is the executive director for the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area. kmtacorridor.org

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The Ethical Path BY SAM ROHRER

A hunter takes the high ground to glass the area for big game. Annually, big-game hunting generates more than $100 million for wildlife management in Alaska.

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an industry more than a century old. From its humble beginnings in the early 1900s, this industry has grown to generate nearly $100 million per year and provides jobs to more than 1,500 people. Most importantly, it helps puts more than 230,000 pounds of shared game meat on the tables of Alaska residents per year. All of this is made possible by guided hunters who account for only three percent of the total number of hunters in the field. Since the early 1900s, non-resident hunters have been coming to Alaska to pursue their dream of hunting our majestic game. For nearly 50 years, a hardy crew of Alaskan men and women, the big-game hunting guides, have led visiting hunters on their adventures. The guiding life is a good life—you meet interesting people, you see

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incredible sights, you explore the wild lands, and you pursue old monarchs. But it is a lifestyle that faces many challenges, from anti-hunters who view Alaska as one giant tame park to far away bureaucrats who make decisions that affect hunting and access rights, and neither have any real knowledge of on-the-ground realities. In the early 70s, a small group of guides came together and founded the Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA). The association’s objectives were simple: assist in the prevention of illegal and unsportsmanlike hunting practices, promote fair-chase hunting, and promote the conservation of wild lands and wild animals. Today, APHA’s membership is more than 150 guides strong with several hundred more Sustaining, Life, and Business members. While many of the specific issues

SPREAD: LANCE KRONBERGER-COURTESY APHA; RIGHT: COURTESY APHA

Alaska Professional Hunters Association takes the high road


As society has become more urban, people have little understanding of the overall importance of hunting to wildlife conservation.”

we face have changed, our founding objectives remain the same. We work with land and wildlife managers to help craft sound policies that manage wildlife for balance and abundance. We work to maintain access rights for all hunters, both resident and nonresident. We work to update licensing standards to ensure our guides are the most qualified in the nation, and we continually strive to maintain fair business practices so that hunters coming to Alaska know what to expect and are treated honestly. As society has become more urban, people are losing their connection to the land and its wildlife. They have little understanding of why we hunt and the overall importance of hunting to wildlife conservation. Because of this, we increasingly find that policies, regulations, and laws that affect hunting are made by folks who might have good intentions but simply don’t have the

background to make informed decisions. To help combat this, APHA enlists the aid of full-time representation in both Washington, D.C. and Juneau. Our goal is to educate the decision makers and to connect them with their constituents who have boots-on-the ground experience and knowledge. APHA has been effective at influencing policy from the top down, but we have been less active at the grassroots level. Truly, youth are the future of hunting and wildlife conservation, but if they are not active in the outdoors at a young age then their interest in this future greatly diminishes. We recognize this and are working on ways to start engaging our youth. For starters, we support Camp Iron Sights, which is a unique youth camp that is focused on self-growth for young men in a wilderness setting. And this year, we started a youth essay contest to encourage young Alaskans to think about why conservation is important and how they can be a part of it. The winner of this contest will get their essay published in APHA’s The Alaska Professional Hunter and will receive a four-day hunting camp experience for themselves and a parent. Giving back to the communities that support our industry is important to APHA. Guides in Alaska have consistently

shared game meat in the communities closest to where the animals are harvested, but recently APHA has expanded this meat sharing effort by partnering with the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) to donate game meat for their patients. Many of their patients were raised on eating wild game as their primary food source and many believe this meat has healing powers. The ANMC is not able to purchase these foods due to federal regulations and therefore relies on donations to feed their patients in this manner. Our guides have donated hundreds of pounds of game meat to help feed the patients of the ANMC. APHA believes that hunting and Alaska’s wildlife have a bright future, but only if conservation-minded groups such as ours continue to stand together and fight for sound management and resource stewardship. This effort takes money, time, and dedicated volunteers. It is a never-ending task and often thankless struggle, but it is a struggle worth having. The future of Alaska’s wildlife resources and the opportunity to hunt those resources depends on it. Sam Rohrer, president of the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, grew up on Kodiak Island in a guiding family and has been involved in the industry since his early teens.

Moose are a common target for hunters visiting Alaska. Other big-game animals include caribou, Dall sheep, mountain goats, Sitka black-tailed deer, and black and brown bears. The Alaska Professional Hunters Association makes sure non-resident hunters have a safe and fair-chase hunt.

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Park Avenue PHOTOS BY PATRICK J. ENDRES

Denali National Park & Preserve Established: 1917 Accessible Via: Parks Highway Park Entrance: Turn off the Parks Highway onto Park Road at Milepost 237.4 Visitors Center: Yes, one near the park entrance (907-683-9532) and Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66 on the Park Road. Main Attractions: Denali, mega fauna What The Milepost says: The park entrance is 237 miles north of Anchorage and 125 miles south of Fairbanks via the Parks Highway. Pictured: The Park Road and Denali


nly small states such as Vermont and Rhode Island have road systems smaller than Alaska’s. Want more? At least two of Texas would fit into Alaska, but the Lone Star State has more than 675,000 miles of roads; Alaska, 31,618. Oh but what glorious miles they are. Four of the Great Land’s eight national parks offer drive-up access (or something pretty close to it). Take a look. We think you’ll agree: Alaska has the most breathtaking road system in the country.

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Kenai Fjords National Park Established: 1980 Accessible Via: Seward Highway Park Entrance: Take Herman Leirer Road (3.7 miles from Seward) and drive 8.4 miles to the parking lot for the Exit Glacier. Visitor Center: Yes. The primary visitor center is in Seward (907-422-0535). Main Attractions: The Harding Ice Field, Exit Glacier, marine mammals What The Milepost says: Substantial populations of marine mammals, including sea otters, Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, and whales, inhabit or migrate through the park’s coastal waters. Pictured: Exit Glacier and the Harding Ice Field


Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve Established: 1980 Accessible Via: The northern section is accessible via the Nabesna Road. Most people, however, follow McCarthy Road to the town of McCarthy, then either walk or shuttle to the park. Visitors Center: The main visitor center (907-8225234) is located at Milepost 106.8 on the Richardson Highway. Another is located in the general store in McCarthy and housed in the same building as the post office. Main Attractions: Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, Kennicott Glacier Lodge, and Kennicott Glacier What The Milepost says: The park contains the greatest collection of peaks over 16,000 feet on the continent. The park also contains the greatest concentration of glaciers on the continent. Pictured: Mount Blackburn

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Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve Established: 1980 Accessible Via: Dalton Highway Park Entrance: No official entrance. Most people access the park via bush plane. It’s possible, however, to hike in from the Dalton Highway. Visitors Center: Located in Coldfoot (907-678-5209) Main Attraction: Pure wilderness What nps.gov/gaar says: The highway parallels the eastern boundary of the park, and it is possible to hike into the park from the road. The Dalton Highway runs through some spectacular scenery but it is not without its own challenges. It’s a mostly unpaved, two lane industrial road, with no amenities or services between Fairbanks and Coldfoot. Pictured: Parabala Mountain (left) and Elephant’s Tooth (right)

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The Arctic Refuge remains an unspoiled American treasure—for now

THE LAST GREAT WILDERNESS SPREAD: SCOTT DICKERSON / ALASKASTOCK; (INSET: LORI AND DON THOMAS

BY E. DONNALL THOMAS JR.


“Here still survives one of Planet Earth’s own works of art. This one symbolizes freedom.” —Lowell Sumner, National Park Service biologist, 1953

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will never forget the first time I dipped my toe in the Arctic Ocean. Despite the early August date, a mountain snowstorm had kept us grounded on Barter Island at the beginning of a Brooks Range sheep hunt. Since we were hunting with longbows, the smart money was on the sheep. With nothing else to do while we waited for the weather to clear, I wandered up to the local medical clinic. A young physician with several years of experience in Native communities, I was able to give the friendly staff some advice on their new ER equipment. Then I headed to the beach. Although I’d spent time on six of the seven seas, I’d never seen one like this before. Bare, gravel shoreline stretched for miles in both directions, but there were no waves. The arctic ice pack lay so close to shore then that the surface water couldn’t develop any momentum. A layer of cold fog hung low overhead, making the noon sunlight feel suffused and eerie. I really did walk down to the water and immerse the toe of one boot. Although I had lived in Alaska for several years by then, I had never experienced anything like this elsewhere around the state. Long before Jurassic Park was conceived and filmed, I felt aware of having entered a timeless world in which the senses’ ordinary rules of engagement no longer applied. I’ve experienced similar wonder every time I’ve been back.

The Porcupine Herd moves atop a long ridge in the Romanzof Mountains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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area began during the 1950s with a study by National Park Service planner George Collins and biologist Lowell Sumner titled “Northeast Alaska: The Last Great Wilderness.” In 1956, Wilderness Society president, Olaus Murie, and his wife, Margaret, led an expedition into the Upper Sheenjek Valley of the Brooks Range. Upon their return they argued passionately for protection of the area, and in 1960, the Eisenhower administration created the Arctic National Wildlife Range. Most of those nearly 9 million acres were designated Wilderness, which permanently bars roads, vehicles, permanent structures, mining, logging, and oil exploration and is the highest level of protection from development public land can

RGB VENTURES / SUPERSTOCK / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

That lonely beach marks the northern boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR or Arctic Refuge). Covering more than 19 million acres in the extreme northeastern corner of Alaska, this is the largest of the country’s 560 refuges and among the least visited. The National Wildlife Refuge system began in 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt, the greatest wildlife advocate ever to occupy the White House, created the Pelican Island refuge in Florida to protect bird life from exploitation by commercial plume hunters. Refuges have played a crucial role in preserving America’s wildlife and wild places ever since. The move to preserve and protect this ecologically unique


Except for the presence of birds, polar bears, and occasional people, the shores of ANWR are pretty lonely.

receive. Provisions of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) created the 19-million-acre Arctic Refuge. Although most of the additional land did not receive Wilderness protection, the bill specifically required Congressional approval before any oil and gas drilling could begin. Conflicts and controversies regarding future development in the area arose at once. To understand the significance of the discussion today, it is important to appreciate the land and its intrinsic value to wildlife and people. Lagoons and deltas from northward-flowing rivers form a vast system of wetlands along the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Farther inland to the south, the coastal plain

forms vast tundra habitat before the peaks of the Brooks Range rise over 9,000 feet into the alpine. Across the continental divide into the Yukon drainage, the tree line reappears and open tundra yields to boreal forest. No other part of the Arctic includes so many distinct, contiguous ecological zones. While the terrain may look empty at first, it actually supports a deceptive amount of wildlife. Density may be low by the standards of temperate zones, but they are high for the Arctic. Coastal wetlands provide breeding grounds for vast numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds every summer. Nearly 200 avian species inhabit the refuge. Some migrate annually to all 50 states and six continents, confirming that the biological influence of the region reaches far beyond Alaska. The coast and adjacent ice provide crucial habitat for polar bears, now listed as a threatened species. Rivers teem with grayling and char, and wolves and tundra grizzlies roam freely. Numbering nearly 200,000 animals, the great Porcupine caribou herd calves on the coastal plain every spring after wintering in the southern portion of the refuge. Midsummer, most of the animals migrate eastward into Canada before completing a clockwise circle in the fall. Their route covers up to 2,000 miles, making this the world’s longest annual largemammal migration. Several times, when Alaska looks like Africa’s famous Serengeti for a couple of weeks each summer, I’ve caught the tail end of their eastward movement into Canada. Empty land? I don’t think so. Of course people live there too, even if their numbers are small. Alaska Natives—Inupiat along the coast and Gwich’in (“the caribou people”) south of the mountains—have occupied the area for more than 10,000 years and still depend upon these wildlife resources to maintain their culture and subsistence way of life. While some Alaska Native groups have expressed support for oil development, the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (representing 229 native tribes in Alaska) officially opposes drilling on the refuge, as does the Tanana Chiefs Council and the National Congress of American Indians. Visitors to the area will have to deal with one of ANWR’s paradoxes in order to understand the place. Beautiful as it is, the refuge is difficult to reach, its logistics are complicated, and a sound backcountry skill set will be needed to enjoy it. No roads enter or lie within its boundaries, and there is no “glamping” on the Arctic Refuge. But let’s face it—the idea of readily accessible wilderness is an oxymoron. Olaus Murie noted the same point 60 years ago. A 2015 Fish and Wildlife Service study recommended extending Wilderness designation to an additional 12 million acres, which would include almost all of the refuge. My neighbor and frequent hunting and fishing partner, Glenn Elison, served as director of the Arctic Refuge from 1983 to 1993 prior to becoming a regional FWS supervisor for the state. During his tenure, he estimates that around 1,200 people from outside the immediate area visited the refuge annually. I asked him why he thought an area that receives so little human traffic should matter to the millions of Americans who will never go there. He offered the example of Yellowstone National Park. When the Hayden Expedition arrived in 1871 no one could have imagined a park as busy and important as it is today, hosting four million visits per year. Neither he nor I foresee anything like that SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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Members of the Porcupine herd swim across the Hulahula River Canyon in ANWR.

“The Arctic Refuge is one of America’s last pristine, untouched places,” notes Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director for The Wilderness Society. “It has value beyond whatever oil might lie beneath it, and we have a moral obligation to protect it for our children and grandchildren. Oil and gas drilling would have devastating effects on this ecosystem.”

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espite Alaska’s reputation for rain and the amount of standing water along the coast, the North Slope averages 10-inches of rainfall annually, which qualifies its climate as semi-desert. It seldom acts that way when I’m there though, which explains why three friends and I are dripping wet barely a quarter of the way into the 20-mile hike from the nearest

TOP: EDWARD BENNETT / ALASKASTOCK; BOTTOM: DESIGN PICS INC / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

happening in the Arctic Refuge (nor do we wish for it), but the point is taken. “Very few large, intact Arctic ecosystems remain,” Elison said. “This is a dramatic, lonesome, beautiful wilderness in the classic sense. That alone makes it worth preserving.” Of particular interest is the 1.5 million-acre “1002” parcel now simply known as the arctic coastal plain. This area—the geographic center of the calving grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd—was designated as suitable for study for possible oil and gas development under the terms of ANILCA, for a defined window of time that has now closed. The United States Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic coastal plain contains between 4 and 11 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil, and industry interests inside the state and out have long coveted its economic potential. Under the terms of ANILCA, congressional approval would be required prior to any drilling. Numerous bills have been introduced to authorize it, but public opposition has always thwarted those efforts. The result has been a classic standoff between environmental interests and industry backers that shows no sign of ending soon. Currently, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced legislation to authorize drilling on the refuge, while Senators Ed Markey (Massachusetts), Michael Bennet (Colorado), and 40 co-sponsors have introduced bills that would grant the area permanent wilderness protection. To put the matter in perspective, even if the most optimistic estimates of the area’s petroleum reserves could be extracted—a near impossibility—the net amount of oil recovered would not meet more than a year’s worth of the country’s oil needs. We will not solve our energy problems by drilling the Arctic coastal plain. Because of the area’s fragility and inaccessibility any degree of development there would likely change the coastal plain forever, with potentially disastrous consequences for the region’s Native population and wildlife, especially the Porcupine caribou herd.

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landing strip to the valley where we plan to hunt sheep. There isn’t much elevation gain along the way, but there aren’t any trails either and our backpacks are straining beneath the weight of everything we’ll need to survive for the next 10 days. These factors explain why we aren’t paying quite as much attention as we should while we trudge along the stream, and the first glimpse of a brown, furry hump above the tops of the willows comes at uncomfortably close range. I don’t get rattled by encounters with brown bears along salmon streams farther south, but North Slope grizzlies have to meet their entire year’s nutritional needs during the brief Arctic summer. Their first response to a human encounter may be to investigate you as a food source. ANWR is one of the few places in North America where musk ox roam wild. Here, a solitary bull wanders near the Canning River.

Armed with nothing but bows, we’re fumbling for pepper spray when we gradually realize that something looks odd about the approaching bear, which soon becomes a herd of bears with horns atop their heads. We have walked into a group of musk ox, living fossil remnants of the Ice Age. This is one of the few places in North America where one can find them in the wild, and the encounter soon makes me forget my wet clothes and sore shoulders. Once again, I experience the familiar sensation of going backward in time. Late the following afternoon we arrive at our destination, and the sky clears as if to greet us. After all those miles, simply shedding our packs feels euphoric. Then it’s time to set up camp, such as it is, and address our own ravenous appetites. We’ve burned too many calories to settle for freeze-dried, and I head to the nearby creek with the camp fly rod. An hour later, a pan full of little char sits sizzling over a willow twig campfire with a wisp of smoke curling toward the sky. After one of those meals that can only be appreciated in a remote wilderness setting, I take a short walk uphill to reacquaint myself with the valley. Several years have passed since my last visit, and for the first time ever I sense change. The snow level is patchy and much higher than usual, and the only sheep I can see are a group of ewes and lambs that would need technical climbing gear to get any higher. The vegetation along the creek is lusher. I haven’t seen any caribou sign since our arrival. Oil and gas development isn’t the only threat the Arctic faces. Climate change in the abstract is one thing, but confronting it face to face is another. But as the distant sun plays peek-a-boo among the peaks without ever really setting, I still feel a remarkable connection to the valley. The smart money is still on the sheep, but that has never been what matters here. It is enough to enjoy Sumner’s “work of art,” the one that symbolizes freedom. Don Thomas traveled regularly to the North Slope of the Brooks Range and the Arctic Refuge while he was an Alaska resident, between 1980 and 2015. While sheep hunting there he stuck with his bow, and the smart money stayed on the sheep.

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Susten Camp BY MADISON DAPCEVICH

Building a future by digging up the past

Willoya stood at the fire circle, situated between the farmhouse and walled tents of the Alaska Horsemen Trail Adventures Ranch. Although short, her stance and square shoulders exuded an air of authority. “Gather ’round, campers!” she called. “Grab your Xtratufs, rain jackets, and bug spray!” A group of young girls emerged from the stables, and four boys left the camp teepee. The plan called for loading the campers into vans belonging to the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and Cook Inlet Tribal Council and carrying them to the Crescent Creek Campground, where they would spend a week training to excavate an ancient Dena’ina village complex on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. >>

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ALL PHOTOS BY MADISON DAPCEVICH

Raven


The full moon sets over Kenai Lake near the Alaska Horsemen Ranch.

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Applied Archaeology director David Guilfoyle stands in the excavated fire-cracked rock midden. Field school intern Julianne Wilson sits nearby.

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early all the teenagers come from Anchorage, about two hours away. All are Native. The camp is free, and offers a place to sleep and food to kids who otherwise might not know where their next meal is coming from. Near Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula, the Crescent Creek Cultural Heritage Complex is home to a multi-year cultural heritage training program developed by elders, youth, and archaeologists. The project looks to combine the science of archaeological research with the historical lore and knowledge of the tribes to manage an area for both recreational and cultural uses. This camp is part of a larger trend in modern anthropology and archaeology. Many researchers have made working with Native communities a centerpiece of their science, mixing carbon-dating and excavations with traditional oral histories and elder knowledge. Archaeologists now often work collaboratively with Native leaders to ensure that the research directly touches the descendants of the ancient peoples they seek to understand. The modern face of archaeological projects represents a shift in the science, its focus, and how it’s done. The Crescent Creek Complex is an ancient Dena’ina village at the confluence of Crescent Creek and Quartz Creek, flowing into the Kenai River. The Dena’ina are an Alaska Athabascan indigenous group that arrived in the southcentral part of the state around 1,500 years ago—one of only a few indigenous groups to live on the coast. A U.S. Forest Service campground, parking lot, and informal trails crisscross this archaeological site.

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Strategically located between the Chugach Mountains and Kenai River Valley, the site, researchers believe, was once a massive trading, hunting, and gathering area for the region’s first people. The Kenai Peninsula had been home to Dena’ina Athabascans, along with Alutiiqs to the south and Chugaches to the east. Researchers note there exists an “ethnic frontier” at Kachemak Bay that divides the territory of Dena’ina Athabascan and Alutiiq populations. Practicing a subsistence lifestyle, the Dena’ina thrived in the area by pulling fish from the area’s bountiful waterways, hunting migrating game, and gathering berries and other local vegetation. Here science and lore agree: For centuries Crescent Creek had been used as a fishing camp. Scientists speculate that the Dena’ina arrived in the Southcentral part of the state around 1,500 years ago and around 1,200 years ago began using area around Cooper Landing in the summer and fall months when salmon were spawning. They would harvest and preserve the fish for consumption during winter. Today, people still fish the area for its runs of king, silver, and sockeye salmon. For Alaskans throughout the centuries, fishing has been and continues to be a way of life. The stream supports runs of the five species of Pacific salmon and meanders through a valley of glacially deposited soil and rock, cutting across a landscape as diverse as the species that inhabit it. The vegetation is dominated by large spruce and birch trees with a few larger cottonwood trees looming above a dense undergrowth of alder thickets and devil’s club. The Native communities lived in semi-permanent villages scattered throughout the region to follow prey. These villages were comprised of anywhere from one to ten semi-subterranean, multi-family log houses. The most significant aspect of this area is the configuration of the natural and cultural features that capture the essence of the heritage values that so distinctly defined the prehistoric Dena’ina culture. The 1700s brought Russian explorers and traders through the region. The first permanent U.S. settlement in Kenai came in 1830. At the time a smallpox epidemic was rife through Alaska Native communities, devastating the population. Still, the area has continued to be used by Natives throughout the post-contact period. In the earliest days of settlement, areas such as Crescent Creek provided access to traditional resources and maintaining traditions in a context of increasing segmentation of the landscape as populations of settlers of European descent increased and restricted patterns of traditional movement and settlement.

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2016 grant by the Kenai Mountains–Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area allowed the team to focus on a prehistoric village exposed along the banks of Crescent Creek. The study and associated dig enjoyed the full collaboration of the tribe. The excavation was carried out by Susten campers and tribe interns. The findings will help shape a wider plan for culturalheritage management-planning purposes used by the U.S. Forest Service. During this process, the team identified and recorded several archaeological features, including the remnants of a house pit where groups as large as 15 would live. Several storage pits were also found where fish, caribou, moose, and other meats would be stored through the winter. A


fire-cracked rock midden was found at the site. Upon further excavation, the campers found salmon bones, larger mammal bones, and the remains of berries. The first set of radiocarbon dating results of the midden excavated at the Dena’ina Village at Crescent Creek shed light on the Denai’na people and their lifestyle—one that little is known about and lack of cultural evidence continues to keep it hidden. The profile shows two cultural layers separated by a thick layer of loam. Archaeologists agree this likely indicates a flood forced people from the region and assume the Denai’na abandoned the low terraces along the creek line at that time. The Crescent Creek village complex would likely have been abandoned between 600 and 800 years ago. According to lead archaeologist, Dave Guilfoyle of Applied Archaeology International (AAI), this area demonstrates how ancient societies moved in response to environmental changes in the Kenai Peninsula. The team still hopes to uncover more of this history. In collaboration with the University of Illinois, the team is conducting DNA analysis of fish bone recovered in the midden. This is of interest as Denai’na culture stresses the importance of returning salmon remains to the river rather than into a midden. The team is hoping this analysis will better speak to the relationship between the people and the salmon, as well as understanding the evolutionary processes salmon have undergone.

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ithout proper signs or other protections, users of the land are unknowingly trampling over archaeological features, accidentally damaging a sacred historical cultural site. For example, two weeks into the excavation the team encountered an unexpected visitor. One morning a tent appeared away from the designated camping site. The camper inadvertently pitched his tent directly in the middle of the ancient village complex. His tent was placed directly

Journalist Madison Dapcevich spent six weeks with the Susten Camp documenting their work and discoveries. Here she is photographing Crescent Creek.

Students from the Anchorage School District visited the Crescent Creek excavation site for a field trip. Here, one fourth grader helps to excavate the sixth level of excavation unit one.

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over the house depression, and while these intrusions may be subtle at first, over time the impact will destroy the features. A footpath leading to the river—a prime fishing spot—cuts directly through the fire-cracked rock midden. The team carried out a detailed assessment for on-theground protection with the intention of equally balancing the cultural significance and annual $2 billion recreation industry that the land is primarily used for today. With the help of the youth campers, the team mapped the site features through GPS pinpointing and creating a blueprint for a boardwalk to encourage visitors to stop and appreciate the features rather than unknowingly trample through them. The campers also developed language for interpretive signage that will be used along the boardwalk path:

These places and salmon streams are important living sites to the Dena’ina people, as they are to all the people that continue to visit this area each year. They are protected by state and federal laws. The work we are doing is to protect the salmon habitat, the archaeological record, and the cultural values. With your help! Field school students and Kenaitze Indian Tribe interns Julianne Wilson and Stefanie Schindler sit alongside the newly excavated fire-cracked midden.

The project plan requires a formally sanctioned heritage management and interpretation plan that archaeologists hope will serve as a model and case study for managing cultural heritage complexes in other areas. As defined by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, the plan integrates natural and cultural heritage

Raven Willoya sits with Susten Camp’s youngest camper, Hope Joy.

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management actions for the protection of the landscape. This includes addressing and protecting salmon stream values, environmental and ecological impact analysis, and archaeological and cultural mapping research.

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veryone knows Raven Willoya. In the small town of Kenai, where she spent much of her young adult life, she can’t go anywhere without bumping into a neighbor or cousin. They want to know how her internship is or what archaeological excavation she’s working on these days. She answers with a certain spark behind her eyes that reminds one of her clever namesake. Her life before working in the camps hadn’t been easy. Alaska remains one of the states with the highest rates of substance abuse and domestic violence and Willoya’s early life experience was riddled with the same troubles that affect at least one quarter of the population. “I had a rough childhood. My parents weren’t involved in my life. When I came to the program, I suddenly had an entire support system,” said Willoya. “It makes you feel like it’s a safe place to be. Once I started, I never left.” But she found something in the past. When Willoya was 12 years old she began attending Susten Camp. It was here that she found a safe harbor in her teenage years and an avenue to reconnect with her heritage. In the 10 years since first attending Susten Camp, Willoya has developed into a leader within her community. As a head counselor at the summer camps and a social services assistant with the Kenaitze Indian Tribal Council, Willoya has proven she is another of the remarkable finds from the archaeological work along the Kenai Peninsula. She has also made archaeology a core aspect of her life, and works as an archaeological intern for AAI during the summer months in Alaska and has participated in cultural exchanges with aboriginal leaders in Australia. “It was a positive place to be. You can always find someone to talk to if you’re going through a hard time,” said Willoya. “We’re connecting with the country. If I’ve ever learned anything about my culture it’s been based around spending times at the camps, spending time with the youth and the elders that know the history. A lot of the knowledge is lost but a lot of what I know has been from these camps.” Originally from Sitka, Alaska, Madison knew she had to tell the story of the Susten Camp campers. The community involvement showcases Alaska’s unique lifestyle and unique heritage.

Archaeologists believe the dig site once served as a trading, hunting, and fishing area for the region’s first people.

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There is no place that I would rather be in the summer, and I really enjoy sharing my summer home with our lodge guests.� in the surrounding mountains. There are usually not very many people on the trails and the views are incredible. I also love to go flightseeing, which I think is the best way to see the national park.

Steeped in History

Christina Kirkwood on life at Kennicott Glacier Lodge

COURTESY SUSAN SOMMER

Kennecott was a copper-mining town from 1911 to 1938. The National Park Service now owns and maintains the historic buildings and offers tours as well as free educational presentations. The Kirkwood family opened Kennicott Glacier Lodge in 1987 (the spelling differs between the names of the mining company and the lodge and glacier). They’ve expanded a couple of times since then and today offer 43 rooms, fine dining, and an amazing view in a replica of the original mining building plus a new structure with modern amenities. Christina Kirkwood manages the establishment. We caught up with her recently to find out what life is like at the end of the road. ~as told to Susan Sommer What’s it like to run a lodge in remote Alaska? What are some of the challenges and rewards? There are definitely some unique challenges that result from the location of our lodge. We have to generate our own power, our water comes from two wells, and we get groceries and supplies from Anchorage once each week. Another challenge is that the lodge is open only during the summer months. It takes about a month every fall to get it ready for winter, draining pipes, servicing equipment, and putting everything away, and it takes about a month in the spring to open everything up again. We also have to hire and train around 25 new staff members each year.

The reward for overcoming these challenges is that we get to spend the summer in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Kennicott is at the center of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and is surrounded by mountains and glacier. There is no place that I would rather be in the summer, and I really enjoy sharing my summer home with our lodge guests. What are some of your favorite places to escape to in the area? Do you get to do fun things like glacier trekking or rafting? Or would you rather take a break from the hubbub? My favorite thing to do when I am not working is to go hiking on the Root Glacier or

Have you visited all of the historic mines above the lodge? If so, describe your experience getting up to them. I have been to three of the five historic mine entrances. All of the entrances are at the top of the mountains behind us. The trails to Bonanza and Jumbo Mines are each eight miles round trip with a 4,000-foot elevation gain. It is a strenuous hike but the views are well worth the effort. I have been to Erie Mine twice but I do not recommend it for visitors because there is no trail and the terrain is very steep and rocky. I have never been to Glacier Mine or Mother Lode Mine because they are not easily accessible. Kennecott is sometimes called a ghost town. Do you think there are any ghosts there? No. It is fascinating, however, to imagine what life was like during the early 1900s. The walls of our lodge are filled with photos, artifacts, and papers from the mining time and it provides a glimpse into what it was like back then. How many times a day do you have to tell visitors that the lumpy terrain in front of the lodge is rock-covered glacier rather than mine tailings? Many visitors are confused when they first get to Kennicott because the glacier is not pure white like people are used to. The glacier is actually covered by a few feet of rock and gravel and the copper mine produced very few tailings. You travel in the winter when the lodge is closed. Where have you gone and where do you plan to go next? One of my favorite trips was the two weeks I spent in New Zealand in 2015. It is a beautiful country and the people were very friendly. I went skiing in Japan for a week last year and I also make an annual trip to Hawaii every February. SEPTEMBER 2017 A L A S K A

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Can you tell us where you’ll find this view? Susan Sommer, who lives in Palmer and will be the next editor of Alaska, took this photograph during her travels through the state. Post your answer on Facebook for a chance to win a subscription to Alaska magazine. facebook.com/AlaskaMagazine

July/August Answer:

Kevin McCarthy, a photographer from Falmouth, Massachusetts, took this photo of the Pribilof Fur Sealer Monument on St. Paul Island, one of two islands that compose the Pribilofs.

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Profile for Cowboy Publishing Group

Alaska Magazine September 2017  

Alaska Magazine September 2017 Edition _ sample

Alaska Magazine September 2017  

Alaska Magazine September 2017 Edition _ sample