PEEK SEASON H Timing is everything for foliage fans in search of East Coast color. Travel, Page H-5 SECTION ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS • www.adn.com 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 FIELD NOTES Adventurous group slips through clouds SNOWMOBILING 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. CYCLING 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. A 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 IT RA away. around the active BRISTOL ST The battery-operated unit volcano 450 miles BAY F KO weighs 3 ounces and requires south of Anchorage Kodiak LI E no tools. Cost is $49.95. A group of paddlers appeared scuttled Port Island SH 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 www.Cy-Curity.com 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 inferno.’’ 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. email@example.com. 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. ANIAKCHAK NATIONAL MONUMENT Surprise Lake Lava fields The Gates ANIAKCHAK NATIONAL PRESERVE Hi dd Vent Mountain Black en Nose Creek Aniakchak Peak Aniakchak River Meshik Lake Cape Horn miles N Aniakchak 0 5 Bay 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 www.nps.gov/ania/index.htm.