Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FINAL COMMENTS on the Kodiak Road System Trails Master Plan ARE DUE THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2011

FINAL COMMENTS on the Kodiak Road System Trails Master Plan ARE DUE THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2011. The Borough Parks and Recreation committee encouraged citizens to spend the summer enjoying the trails identified in the draft plan as a way of becoming familiar with the trail and to make meaningful comments.
Should have any comments please use the Trails Plan Website. A link to that site can be found a www.kodiaktrailsplan.com.  Click on the Public Involvement link to make your comments.
And hey! . . .  Let’s be courteous on Kodiak’s trails.

Should you have any questions, please contact the Community Development Department at 486-9363.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Butterfly Lake (Uganik) to Hidden Basin 7/11-14/2011: The Narrative

I'd talked to Claire LeClair who did this this route in 2005 with Nora Tobin and decided I'd like to give it a go. After postponing a couple times, the weather looked good for last week, so I went for it. :) Turns out the good weather was in town, but not where I was, for the most part. :'( Here's a downloadable map you can use to follow along as I tell my story of joy and woe. Camps are UG1, UG2, UG3 http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/60281546?access_key=key-10318uwposaeshca95vl
Day 1: Glenn Eaton (Kingfisher Air) set me down on Butterfly Lake (SW of Mush Lake) at about 9 am. By 10, the clouds had come down and I was bushwacking uphill in steady rain and whiteout. It was one of those areas where small ridges run parallel to the main ridge, so a lot of up and down to get up.
I made the ridge, still in whiteout and totally saturated head to toe, and found it to be a knee-deep willow thicket. Wet willows are very slippery to walk on, BTW. With trusty GPS in hand, I headed for Claire's approximate first campsite, sidehilling the east side of 3133, often in those pesky wet willows. It was wet and slippery and I got to a point where I didn't feel safe sidehilling, so up or down? I couldn't see the top of the ridge above me and it was very steep, possible cliffs on the map, so I opted to bushwhack down, cross the creek, and follow a well-used deer trail up valley until I saw a clear path back up to the ridge (after recrossing the creek). This creek, although narrow, was deep and fast and more challenging than the later Uganik River crossing. I camped NE of 3659 the first night - it was blowing a stiff easterly breeze which required me to cook dinner in the Silshelter vestibule. An exposed, not really comfortable in the wind campsite.
Day 1 pics:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=....df08af2f&type=1
Day 2: Wind shifts overnight to westerly, still breezy, cook breakfast in tent again. Today I'm excited to hike the 10 mile ridge which is the main reason I wanted to do the trip and it's overcast as I start out at 0730, but not bad. Unfortunately, the clouds come down again pretty soon , it's zero-zero whiteout, and I hike the entire ridge staring at compass and GPS. The whiteout videos are here:
There were times hiking the snowfields when no landmark was discernible in any direction.
As I arrive at the area Claire said they'd been able to descend to the Uganik River, the clouds clear off and it turns into a nice day, so I decide to at least get down to the river to camp for the night. I tried to follow the stream down, but it turned into a gorge, so I backtracked a bit and hopped up on the sidehills heading down and around and ran into an impassable deep double ravine not really visible on the map that would have required climbing way back up above to get around. It was getting late, so I backtracked to the head of the valley and camped; a herd of about 20 goats was hanging around. It was a bit breezy from the west, but not as bad as Monday, so I was able to sit out and enjoy some hot chocolate and 151 rum with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Day 2 pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=....56271bba&type=1
Day 3: The day dawns clear and stays sunny all day. After studying the map and GPS, I decided to try to descend the west side of the valley (or NE off the ridge); although it was steep in places (I was on my butt sliding down alder tunnels holding on for dear life at times) and thick bushwhacking, I was able to make it to the river. Crossing the river had appeared problematic from above (lots of whitewater and noise), but I found a wide, flat water crossing that never got more than crotch deep. After a sunny lunch/drying out on a gravel bar under the close scrutiny of an American dipper, I headed up the steep slope of bushwhacking doom. Although I'd negotiated alders, willows, salmonberries, etc., a new factor appeared: devil's club! Ack! Now I couldn't just grab indiscriminately to pull myself up. At one point, I was pulling myself up through thick salmonberries when I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, then another in my arm: bees! I got the heck out of there and, luckily, years of being stung growing up in Ohio calmed any fears of anaphylactic shock. I finally made it up and above the brush to a spectacular plateau of snow fields and tundra and set up another scenic camp. It had been sunny and calm all day and it was great to sit out in the warmth and sip my evening toddy in comfort and relaxation. Day 3 pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=....fbb2e8a5&type=1
Day 4: I knew from a satphone conversation the evening before that strong westerly winds up to 35 mph were expected. The day began calmly as I headed up into the snowfields that would lead to Hidden Basin, but soon enough the clouds came down and it was time for business as usual: zero-zero whiteout, now compounded with the rising west winds. Luckily the wind was at my back. It was an intense couple of hours navigating with GPS and trying to avoid open water in frozen lakes, bergschrunds, etc; fortunately the clouds dissipated as I was approaching lake 2750 and I was able to enjoy spectacular views and hiking on snowfields and a magnificent granite ridge. Soon I spied my goal, Hidden Basin. I hiked the ridge as long and far as possible, but eventually it was back down into the brush for one last lengthy bushwhack. It seemed to get worse as I neared HB and the last mile or so was sheer hell (perhaps it was just that I could see the beach and it seemed so close and I wanted so much to be on it). I hit the beach about 4:30 and called Kingfisher - due to the high winds, etc they were backed up and couldn't pick me up until Friday. I then called Andrew Air and, lo and behold, they had two planes on the way to Witteveens at that very moment. So, an hour or so later I got a bumpy seat fare ride back to town. Day 4 pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=....33846b20&type=1
Originally, I had considered continuing to Saltery Cove, then up and over Center Mtn to Kasheverof to the road. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak....
The only bears I saw on this trek were a couple hanging around Butterfly Lake as we approached to land. I didn't see another bear although there was considerable sign, even high up in the "glaciers". I did see rough-legged hawks, fox, voles, deer, goats, various and sundry sparrows, dippers, magpies, ravens, eagles, etc.
If I were to repeat this trip (which is highly unlikely), I'd opt for May/early June right before or right at green up to avoid the thick, high brush. I didn't need snowshoes or crampons - my Merrill hiking boots were enough for kicking steps when needed.
Overall, it was a pretty good trip and I'm glad I did it - but it was the most intense, difficult bushwhacking I've ever done, especially for a prolonged period and distance.
My pack at the start was about 40 lbs and I had 5 days/nights of food. I didn't eat as much as I thought I would and I think I could have shed at least 5 lbs of food and other gear - I'd aim for a 30 lb pack in the future, which is easier if you have a partner to share tent/stove weight. With the amount and density of bushwhacking, you'd want a low profile pack - my REI Flash 65 was just a little too tall at times, but it is a very comfortable pack. I camped in a Silshelter which handled the wind quite well, slept in a North Face Cat's Meow (due to the rain and condensation issues, down would not have worked well on this trip), and cooked on a JetBoil stove. I broke one Kompedell carbon fiber trekking pole when I fell on it during the last bushwhack push to Hidden Basin.
If you'd like to know more about this trip, just give me a shout.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Butterfly Lake to Hidden Basin Route Map

Uganik to Hidden Basin July 11-14 2011       UG 1-2-3 are camps

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Butterfly Lake (Uganik) to Hidden Basin: The Whiteout Videos

July 12 2011: Day 2 of a solo trek from Butterfly Lake to Hidden Basin, hiking the long ridge in a zero/zero conditions.  Note that I refer to Butterfly Lake as "Marsh Lake" in one video - derangement was setting in.
Photos of trek here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Alaska Aerospace Corporation & Kodiak Launch Complex Compass Piece in Anchorage Daily News

Original Title:  "The Little Launch Complex That Couldn't"


Another version here:

Monday, March 28, 2011

OUTDOOR GEAR FOR SALE: backpacking, camping, climbing, hiking (updated 4/13)



all prices negotiable - shipping extra unless marked PPD
UPDATED   April 13 2011
Patagonia Micro Puff Pants  Black Large - New                    $100
North Face Tangerine Dream synthetic sleeping bag   (-30)                $150
Gregory woman’s Expedition backback  (blue)                    $50
Mountain Products Corp (MPS) Down Mittens                    $30
Lowe Footfangs                                       $20
MSR XGK stove (unused since complete recondition by MSR)  no fuel pump    $50
Never used Brawny Gear Silnylon Pack Covers. I think they are both size Large - both fit over the expedition pack I used on Denali.   $16 Postage Paid each (1 green, 1 blue)
Neotec Neoprene Overboots XL (used on one Denali summit day)            $50
Koflach Vario Arctis Expedition plastic boots  size 11 (hardly used)            $150
MSR Miox water  purifier (never used)                        $75 PPD
Wild Country Technical Friends Set Sizes: 1.0, 1.5, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0            $130 PPD

The following items have been SOLD:
Garuda Atman Solo 4 Season Tent                              $275
Henry Shires TarpTent  Custom 2 person tent (grey silnylon)            $175
MSR Waterworks water filter                                $20
MSR MiniWorks water filter                                $30
Mountainsmith Mountainlight 5000 backpack  (red)                    $75
Mountainsmith Mountainlight 3500 backpack (green)                $75
Integral Designs Silshelter  (green)                            $50
Integral Designs Bug Liner for Silshelter                        $50
AlpenLite Gore-Tex bivy sac with radiant heat barrier                $25
Optimus 111 white gas stove   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Latest Update from FAA about Kodiak Runway Extensions

I would like to update you on the status and progress of the Kodiak Airport Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) currently underway.  The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing this EIS to evaluate actions proposed by the Airport Operator, the Alaska State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF), to improve the Runway Safety Area (RSA).

For those of you that may be unfamiliar, the RSA is a clear and graded area surrounding a runway.  This area is there to minimize the severity of injury and aircraft damage in the event of an aircraft excursion.  The project in Kodiak is to improve the deficient RSA to the extent practical.

First, I would like to thank you for your patience and continued interest throughout the course of this project.  There has been a tremendous amount of work and progress since my last update in September 2010.  Since that last message, we have evaluated and updated a range of build alternatives that support operational needs, are reasonable, and are financially feasible.

We are currently in the process of scheduling meetings in both Kodiak and Anchorage with staff from cooperating agencies, coordinating agencies, and federally recognized tribal governments.  These meetings are a necessary part of the EIS process, and will assist us greatly in completing the Draft EIS in anticipation of a mid-summer 2010 release.

Our extended review comments and concerns generated from the preliminary draft EIS, as well as our development of updated build alternatives has impacted our schedule.  Despite that impact, we still plan to release the Draft EIS as close to the above schedule of mid-summer 2010 as possible.  As that date approaches, I will continue to provide updates letting you know were we are.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at the number or e-mail address below.

Finally, if you no longer want updates, please let me know, and I will remove you from our mailing list.  Additionally, if you know of someone that needs to be included, but is not, please forward this message, and have them contact me for inclusion in future updates.

Thank you so much, Leslie

Leslie A. Grey
Environmental Protection Specialist
FAA - Alaskan Region, Airports Division

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cochise the Dog Descends the Crux of the Flatiron Trail

Sometimes, people drag their dogs on routes that are not really suitable for dogs.  The long, steep gully leading up to the Flatiron is one such route.  The route involves some Class IV scrambling in places and descending can be even more difficult than ascending.  This poor dog was scared spitless and had to be wrestled down what is actually an overhanging pitch.  (The video does not really show this well)
It's ok to leave your dog at home sometimes.