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Ski training programs are plenti


									               PEEK SEASON

               Timing is everything for foliage
               fans in search of East Coast color.
               Travel, Page H-5

 SECTION                                                                                            ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS •                                                                             SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2002

                                                                Ski training programs are plentiful
                                                                s FITNESS:  There are year-round                                                                                   ski-training programs.
                                                                                                                        s  PICK A PROGRAM: From beginner to advanced, there           Once they do, they often find it changes their
                                                                programs available for beginners to                     is a ski or snowboard training program available to help   lives.
                                                                experts, youths to adults.                              you improve your skills.                                      Many of the group’s adult skiers are not star
                                                                                                                                                                     Page H-3      athletes or even natural athletes. But they say
                                                                By ELIZABETH MANNING                                                                                               working out regularly under a coach has helped
                                                                Anchorage Daily News                                    recent workout with Alaska Pacific University’s             them meet personal goals and stay fit, particu-
                                                                   For Hannah Davis, skiing at noon with other          Nordic Skiing Center. ‘‘I’m doing it for fitness.’’         larly during Anchorage’s cold season, when the
                                                                women isn’t about becoming a hotshot. It’s                 Joining a ski training group like APU’s                 tendency to succumb to evenings on the couch
                                                                about getting and staying in shape so simple            Nordic Skiing Center isn’t for everyone. Davis,            grows strong. Some of the group’s skiers also
                          BILL ROTH / Daily News archive 2002   chores like grocery shopping or climbing stairs         for example, works out with the center an aver-            say the frequent workouts help them maintain
Not only does the Anchorage area boast excellent                don’t wear her down.                                    age of four days a week year-round at a cost of            mental health during long, dark winters.
areas to ski, but there also are a lot of training                 ‘‘I’m not doing this to be a racer,’’ Davis, 55,     $900. Increasingly, though, regular folks like
programs to help skiers improve their skills.                   said as she chugged along on roller skis during a       Davis have committed themselves to serious                                                     See Page H-3, SKIING

                                                   Shrouded monument

                                                                                                                                                                              Adventurous group
                                                                                                                                                                             slips through clouds
Annual swap meet set                                                                                                                                                      to explore volcanic crater
for 11 a.m. Saturday
   The Anchorage Snowmobile
Club has set its annual swap
meet for Saturday next to the
Enstar Building on Interna-
tional Airport Road between
Fairbanks and Eagle streets.
   Check in is 10 a.m. for peo-
ple selling gear. Space for sell-
ers costs $20, or get two spaces
for $30. Buying and trading run
from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
   Machines, parts, acces-
sories and outdoor clothing
are encouraged.
   The club encourages sales
of snowmobile-related items
but is not restricting anyone to
selling just that. For informa-
tion, call 566-0272.

California company
touting bike alarm
    A California company says
it is bringing the car alarm to
two-wheelers. With more than
1.5 million bicycle thefts re-
ported every year, Factory En-                                                                                                                                                                           Photos by BEN HARRIS / Anchorage Daily News
hancements Corporations says                                                                                                                                             An aerial view shows the Aniakchak River as it flows through
something more than chains                                                                                                                                               The Gates of Aniakchak Volcano, forming the headwaters of
and padlocks is needed. So it                                                                                                                                            the Alaska Peninsula’s longest river.
has unveiled the Cy-Curity sys-
tem, a motion sensor and                                                                                                                                                 By BEN HARRIS
alarm that can be hidden be-                                                                                                                                             Anchorage Daily News
neath a bike seat.

                                                                                                                                                                               NIAKCHAK VOLCANO — Clouds formed a seem-
    If anyone moves the bike, a                                                                                                                                                ingly impenetrable curtain around the crater of
115-decibel siren goes off. The                                                                                                                                                Aniakchak as our plane approached. No route over
noise, the company says,                                                                                                                                                 or in was visible. Conditions almost identical to these
should deter would-be thieves                                                                                                                                            had forced us back to King Salmon two days earlier, ful-
trying to break bike chains or                                                                                                                                           filling this national
other devices used to secure                                                                                                                                             monument’s repu-            miles
bikes. The Cy-Curity system                                                                                                                                              tation as a site sel-    0        50 N     King
also has a key-chain trigger                                                                                                                                                                                        Salmon        Katmai
                                                                                                                                                                         dom seen or visited.                                     Nat’l.
that allows a cyclist to activate                                                                                                                                            Our plans for a                                      Park
the alarm from up to 100 feet                                                                                                                                            week of adventure                        Becharof Lake

away.                                                                                                                                                                    around the active        BRISTOL

    The battery-operated unit                                                                                                                                            volcano 450 miles        BAY

weighs 3 ounces and requires                                                                                                                                             south of Anchorage                                          Kodiak

no tools. Cost is $49.95.                     A group of paddlers                                                                                                        appeared scuttled        Port                               Island

    For more information, call                prepares gear before                                                                                                       as we circled the        Heiden
1-800-971-0778 or visit the                   entering the rapids                                                                                                        crater’s barren                       Aniakchak National Web site.                   through The Gates of                                                                                                       brown slopes.                         Monument and Preserve
                                              Aniakchak. About 2,000                                                                                                     Faces tightened as
                                                                                                                                                                                                              BEN HARRIS / Anchorage Daily News
BIRDING                                       years ago, The Gates                                                                                                       we pondered fork-
Birder’s World offers                         were formed when a                                                                                                         ing out $2,000 for yet another flight.
                                              section of the volcano’s                                                                                                       Then our pilot spotted a break in the clouds. A pass
bird-watching primer                          walls was breached.                                                                                                        below was visible. He approached tentatively as winds
    Birder’s World magazine is                Water from the lake                                                                                                        buffeted the DeHavilland Otter.
offering a primer on joining                  within the caldera                                                                                                             Suddenly we were through. The ground dropped
one of the country’s most pop-                rushed out leaving                                                                                                         away from the pass to reveal a volcanic wonderland.
ular activities. Bird-watching                behind this 1,200-foot-                                                                                                    Gestures of high-fives and thumbs up flashed around
is one of the fastest growing                 high gash.                                                                                                                 the plane’s cabin.
pastimes in America.
    Birder’s World celebrates                                                                                                                                                             A LAND OF FOG AND CLOUDS
                                              Right: Boulders in The
that growth and its 15th an-                  Gates make passage                                                                                                            The oft-shrouded mysteries of Aniakchak lured our
niversary with what it consid-                dangerous and difficult.                                                                                                   group of five to this desolate land on the Alaska Penin-
ers the ultimate guide to bird-               This group had to unload                                                                                                   sula. Only three or four groups explore Aniakchak’s
watching in North America.                    its raft and line it down                                                                                                  crater and river each year, making Aniakchak National
Copies should now be on news-                 river with ropes from                                                                                                      Monument and Preserve the least visited units in the
stands.                                       shore.                                                                                                                                                                See Page H-4, VOLCANO

                    Scout gear was strange, but boys still had to have it
                        NORTH FORK SHIP CREEK — Discovery                              sewn on. The Boy Scout manual offered in-          ways ended up stabbing me in the back.
                     of an aluminum lid to a Boy Scout mess kit                        structions on how to pack it. The instructions        The other long-lasting memories are:
                     near Bird Creek Pass triggered the pondering                      were simple:                                          • The unbelievable weight of these packs.
                     on the strange, Boy Scouts of America gear                           Put soft objects — bed roll, clothing, etc. —   But what do you expect when you carry Paul
                     many of us used to carry around in the woods.                     on the side of the pack nearest your back.         Bunyan’s hatchet around everywhere just in
                        The Scouts were once a significant Ameri-                       Place hard objects — the hatchet, mess kit,        case you have to clear-cut a forest in an emer-
                     can supplier of backpacks, canteens (what we                      the cans of pork and beans, bricks for anchor-     gency?
   CRAIG             now call water bottles), mess kits, cutlery, bed                  ing the tent — behind this padding to avoid           • The homemade ‘‘trump line.’’ The trump
  MEDRED             rolls (what we now call sleeping bags) and                        some sharp object sticking you in the back all     line preceded the hip belt. Both are designed
                     hatchets. These items comprised what you                          day.                                               to help alleviate the weight of a pack on your
   OUTDOORS          might call the basic Scout camping outfit.                            One of the things I remember most about         shoulders. Waist belts try to shift the weight to
                        The backpack was a canvas version of a pa-                     my Boy Scout pack was that no matter how
                     per grocery bag with a lid and a couple straps                    the junk inside was arranged, something al-                                    See Page H-2, MEDRED
H-4         Sunday, October 6, 2002                                                                                 OUTDOORS                                                                                                 Anchorage Daily News

VOLCANO: Some sights remain a mystery at national monument
            Continued from H-1
national park system.
    The volcano itself was unknown to
all but Native inhabitants until 1922,
when a group of government geolo-
gists discovered a 6-mile-wide hole in
the earth. Mysteries of the caldera
were later reported by the Rev.
Bernard Hubbard, who flew to the
caldera in 1930. The ‘‘Glacier Priest’’
from Santa Clara, Calif., found rem-
nants of a 7,000-foot mountain that
had collapsed during an eruption
3,500 years earlier. He described Ani-
akchak as ‘‘paradise found … a world
within a mountain.’’
    A year later, Aniakchak erupted.
Hubbard returned to find a ‘‘valley of
death in which not a blade of grass or
a flower or a bunch of moss broke
through the thick covering of deposit-
ed ash.’’
    Inside the caldera, he wrote, was a
‘‘vision of hell.’’
    ‘‘Yellow sulphurs seethed and
boiled around the edge of broken
blocks of red lava. … Colored fumes
too heavy to rise rolled about like
waves on a stormy sea,’’ Hubbard
wrote. ‘‘We stood awestricken on the
edge looking, like Dantes, into a real
    I first read Hubbard’s report of Ani-
akchak a few years ago. Copies of his                                                                                                                                                                        Photos by BEN HARRIS / Anchorage Daily News
papers were given to me by Ron Clau-
son, co-owner of Backcountry Safaris.
                                                      Woody Harrell and Brent Shaffer pause atop 3,300-foot-high Vent Mountain while Cynthia Harrell climbs the cinder cone’s slopes. Surprise Lake, The Gates and mountains
A trip to Aniakchak has been on Clau-
                                                      of the Aleutian Range can be seen at center in this view.
son’s must-do list for several years.                 snow fields below.                                     Shaffer and me in our inflatable           on our trip, and they presented no          Unfortunately, clear skies in Ani-
    Hubbard’s vivid descriptions of                      For the rest of our stay, we ven-                  kayaks.                                   problems.                                akchak did not mean skies were clear
Aniakchak made us curious, but find-                   tured out alone or in pairs to investi-                  The river had none of the Class IV        In no time we had traveled halfway    across the peninsula in King Salmon.
ing other people to split the cost of                 gate other features of the caldera.                   white water that had been reported in     downriver and reached slower water.      A call on the satellite phone to Katmai
such an expensive trip took time.                        Woody and Cynthia paddled inflat-                   guidebooks. At higher water levels,       The drizzly conditions and long day      Air dashed our hopes for a flight. We
    ‘‘Notoriously bad weather com-                    able kayaks to warm springs the color                 we might have encountered some            made everyone eager to get a warm        would be stuck another day.
bines with costly and unpredictable                   of pumpkins that flowed into Surprise                  spills and thrills, but in low-water      meal, shelter and dry clothes.              ‘‘I’m beginning to feel like Bill
access to discourage most would-be                    Lake. The springs have cooled con-                    conditions there were just a few big         The pace slowed for the final day.     Murray in the movie ‘Groundhog
visitors,’’ a National Park Service                   siderably since the volcano’s more ac-                rocks to dodge.                           We meandered around oxbows seem-         Day,’ ’’ Woody said. ‘‘We’re gonna be
handout warns.                                        tive days and are now only slightly                      We traded Hubbard’s ‘‘vision of        ing to go almost nowhere. The pointy     stuck here till we get it right.’’
    Fortunately, such conditions                      warm to the touch. Wearing a drysuit,                 hell’’ for a vision of paradise as The    landmark Cape Horn stayed in view           Humor and cards, fortunately, kept
couldn’t deter Woody Harrell, super-                  Cynthia stepped into the bubbling wa-                 Gates opened into a lush green world.     for hours, signalling our approach to    everyone in good spirits. We joked
intendent of Shiloh National Military                 ters of the spring.                                      Later in the day, I looked back to-    Aniakchak Bay.                           about how our situation was similar
Park. Harrell is trying to visit all 385                 ‘‘You feel like an ice cube in a car-              ward the caldera from our camp just          A widening river, relentless head     to the TV show ‘‘Survivor’’ but with
units of the National Park system,                    bonated drink,’’ she said.                            outside The Gates. Like Jack in ‘‘Jack    wind and incoming tide beyond Cape       everyone hoping to be voted off the is-
and he was anxious to make the Ani-                      Walking the crater’s ash fields re-                 and the Beanstalk,’’ I stood at the       Horn brought us to a crawl.              land.
akchak National Monument and Pre-                     minded me of springtime journeys                      door to a giant’s castle, a small and        A salty drizzle was in our faces; we     On the afternoon of the third day,
serve numbers 363 and 364 on his list.                across the Kansas prairie — seeing                    insignificant speck of a human peer-       could taste the sea. The view            the weather broke. The clouds began
Harrell’s wife, Cynthia, and Alaskan                  patches of brilliant colors pop up from               ing into a mystical land in the clouds.   widened, looking like pictures I’ve      to rise along with the barometer on
Brent Shaffer joined us as we headed                  a sea of brown. Small islands of dwarf                                                          seen of Scotland with its dense green    Shaffer’s gizmo watch. We called Kat-
for the Alaska Peninsula in July.                     fireweed, lupine, luetkea and grasses                    FLOATING OUT TO MEET THE TIDE           rocky shores.                            mai Air to ask them to keep the Otter
                                                      cling to life in this fragile volcanic                    Clouds continued to hide Ani-            Finally, we hit bottom. Our boats     available for the next morning.
       INSIDE THE FABLED CALDERA                      world.                                                akchak’s secrets as we began our 30-      dragged on the sandy tidal zone. We         We confirmed a flight that morning
    Our float-equipped Otter splashed                     All of this, combined with unusual                 mile river journey to Aniakchak Bay       kept going, however, pushing and         despite the appearance of clouds that
down on jade-green waters of Sur-                     cloud formations and nasty weather,                   on the Alaska Peninsula’s eastern         paddling until we could see waves        looked ready to drop at any moment.
prise Lake within the crater. The lake                contributes to Aniakchak’s reputation                 shore. A misty curtain of gray            breaking on the bay.                     Everyone kept an edgy eye on the
is a remnant of a larger lake that once               as a unique place. Clouds churn over                  cloaked everything above the river-                                                sky. A rising tide and building ocean
filled the entire crater, much like Ore-               and into the caldera’s walls, creating                bank.                                       SALTWATER LAPPING AT THE TENT          swells promised to complicate the
gon’s Crater Lake.                                    what geologist Hubbard described as                       We coasted along at a swift pace as      The sound of splashes kept us         landing and loading of the Otter.
    Peering across the landscape,                     cloud Niagaras. The Niagara Falls                     the river dropped 75 feet per mile.       awake past midnight our first night          But pilot Chris Larson was a sea-
Woody Harrell said, ‘‘It’s like the                   analogy is apt. As the clouds spill into              Where the channel narrowed to as lit-     on the beach. Come morning we no-        soned pro. He made a no-sweat land-
Grand Canyon in the ice age.’’                        the crater, they spread out like mist                 tle as 15 feet across, the river cata-    ticed the tide had risen to within a few ing. We loaded the plane as fast as
    Cynthia Harrell was equally                       from a waterfall.                                     pulted us downstream. Stretches of        feet of our tents. Our plane was         possible, and within minutes we were
awestruck. ‘‘I think this may have                       However, winds that move those                     fast and rocky river provided some        scheduled for the next day, but the      flying back over the path we had just
moved up to number one’’ on our na-                   clouds can turn ugly. Guidebooks re-                  white-water thrills without being in-     weather was miserable.                   traveled, fascinated at our perspec-
tional park and preserve list, she said.              port gusts up to 100 mph in the                       timidating.                                  With no chance of catching a re-      tive seen by few.
    Volcanic activity since the initial               caldera.                                                  Everything would have been excel-     turn flight to King Salmon, we hun-          Months later, I remain curious
eruption has created a variety of fea-                                                                      lent on a sunny day, but beneath the      kered down to read books, eat, sleep     about some Aniakchak sights the
tures within the caldera that include                     THROUGH THE GATES TO THE SEA                      rainy skies some of us were chilled. A    and play cards.                          weather concealed. Another visit may
vents, cones, craters and warm                            Our passage out of the caldera was                stop for hot cider and tea warmed our        The following day began the same be in order. I’ll be sure to take along a
springs. The caldera is desert, moon-                 by raft and inflatable kayak through a                 bodies, and we added another layer of     way, but by early afternoon the rain     good dose of patience, a good book
scape and glacier all rolled into one.                gaping V-shaped slot in the caldera’s                 clothes.                                  had stopped and skies cleared            and a Visa Platinum card.
    Much of the ash and cinder surface                walls called The Gates.                                   Guidebooks and float reports indi-     enough for us to see Sutwick Island
has been wiped clean of vegetation.                       About 2,000 years ago, a segment                  cated excitement ahead. I raised my       15 miles away. Everyone walked           s Ben Harris is a page designer at the Daily News
Wind has scoured large areas, leav-                   of the crater rim collapsed, launching                vigilance and kept a can of bear spray    around the beach with nervous ener-      and a white-water kayaker. He can be reached at
ing behind fingernaillike scratches in                 a massive flood. When it was over,                     within close reach, expecting to see      gy, hoping for a flight.        
the earth.                                            what was left was The Gates.                          some brown bears; 70 years ago, a
    No alders, no mud, no muck, no                        Surprise Lake now spills into the                 survey party organized by R.H. Sar-
bugs and little rain spelled great hik-               Aniakchak River at the base of The                    gent encountered 57 of them during a
ing in the crater. Loose deposits of                  Gates’ 1,200-foot cliffs.                             study around Plenty Bear Creek. I
pebbly rocks made for difficult footing                   My stomach churned as my inflat-                   had nervous visions of rounding a
scampering up slopes, but the hiking                  able kayak sped downstream. At any                    bend and running into a griz.
was otherwise trouble-free.                           moment I expected to hit white water                      Or into serious white water.
    When the skies cleared over Vent                  that has been described as having in-                     There was supposed to be another
Mountain, the crater’s highest fea-                   tense and powerful rapids with the                    boulder-filled section with fast water
ture, we could see the snowy peaks of                 potential for danger. A few hundred                   below Hidden Creek. My fists re-
Katmai National Park and Preserve,                    yards into The Gates we spotted boul-                 mained clinched on the paddle. But
more than 100 miles to the northeast.                 ders and stepped out of our boats to                  Hidden Creek was so well hidden that
On our climb to the Vent’s summit                     scout.                                                it slipped past everyone without being
2,200 feet above the caldera floor, we                     Downstream, the boulders formed                   noticed.
could see glaciers hanging precari-                   picket fences spaced so close Clau-                       The bears remained hidden too.
ously on steep 4,000-foot-high crater                 sons’ raft couldn’t get by. We unload-                With the salmon gone, they were else-
walls between Black Nose and Ani-                     ed his boat and lined it past rocky ob-               where. Despite hearing and reading
akchak Peak. A couple dozen barren-                   stacles. Maneuvering through this                     about numerous bear sightings along Guide Ron Clauson and the Harrells paddle down the upper Aniakchak River, which
ground caribou traipsed through                       rock garden, however, was easy for                    the river, we saw only three brownies drops as much as 75 feet per mile. Shaffer follows behind in an inflatable kayak.

               Lava fields        The Gates           ANIAKCHAK NATIONAL PRESERVE
          Vent Mountain       Black       en
                              Nose           Creek
                                                            Aniakchak River

                                              Meshik Lake                  Cape

                                                          N                             Aniakchak
                                          0           5
Map features from National Park Service                                 BEN HARRIS / Anchorage Daily News

IF YOU GO                                             jagged boulders on the river. Bring a patch
                                                      kit just in case. A satellite phone is essential
Getting there: Daily flights to King Salmon            for coordinating a flight out. Bear spray or
are available on Alaska Airlines (800-225-            other protection is advised since bear
2752) and Pen Air (907-243-2323 or 800-               encounters are likely.
448-4226) Round-trip fares cost $300 to               Weather: Delays caused by weather are a
$375. Float plane charters for a Beaver or            given. Plan for some down time. Take care to
Otter from King Salmon to the Aniakchak               coordinate flights with air charters.
caldera can be arranged through Katmai Air            Getting around: Hiking in the caldera is
(907-243-5448) or Branch River Air (907-              excellent. Plan for at least three days on the
246-3437) Flight cost is $2,000 to $2,500             river and no less than 10 total days for a visit.
per trip.                                             Information: Contact the superintendent of
When: July through early August is best.              Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve
 Gear: Good rain gear and shelter that can            in King Salmon at 907-246-3305 or see the             Clauson and the Harrells reach journey’s end as they approach a rain-soaked Aniakchak Bay.
hold up in stout winds are a must. Rafts              National Park Service Web page at
should be able to withstand sharp and       

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