Someone was quite happy to be back on the trail.
Monthly Archives: June 2017
On November 22, 1952, a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II military transport aircraft crashed into Mount Gannett, which is in the Chugach Mountains, 50 miles from Anchorage. All 52 service members on board died in the crash. The C-124 was flying from McChord AFB in Tacoma to Elmendorf AFB near Anchorage. The crew encountered severe weather over the Chugach, it is believed that the pilot was flying blind, and off course. The plane was probably flying full speed when it flew into the mountain and exploded.
Search teams could not get to the crash site for three days due to the weather. Fairbanks Civil Air Patrol was the first on the scene. The weather made recovery at the time, difficult, to say the least. Avalanches were triggered by the crash. The wreckage was quickly consumed by the glacier.
Until June of 2012, when an Alaska National Guard crew flew over Colony Glacier on a training exercise, and the 1952 wreckage was once again exposed. Since 2012, every June, a volunteer military recovery team combs the glacier for the remains of the lost service men. To date, 37 of the 52 victims have been identified. June, on the glacier, is the best month for the detail. The snow melt is high, which exposes more of the crash site. By July and August, the glacier becomes unstable, and the risk from the crevasses increases significantly, so much so, that landing a Black Hawk helicopter is risky.
From May to October, there is a no fly zone over the glacier to limit sightseers, souvenir hunters and from the sounds of it: reality television producers. At least one reality TV show tried to land near the site.
It’s a race against time and nature to find the remaining 15 crash victims. Colony Glacier is constantly in motion, churning and grinding its way towards Lake George, which lies at the glacier’s base. The current search area is 13 miles from the original crash site, and only 2000 yards from the lake.
The Toe has been stolen. The Sourdough Saloon, located in the Downtown Hotel of Dawson City, has been robbed of one of it’s famed toes. People travel from around the globe to partake in the saloon’s signature drink: The Sourtoe Cocktail. The cocktail consists of a shot of alcohol, garnished with a dehydrated human toe.
It’s the Yukon.
The cocktail, if not the toe, has a long history. A rum runner bringing booze into Alaska from the Yukon, amputated his big toe after it was frostbitten, preserving the toe in a jar of alcohol. The abandoned/lost toe was found in an old trapper’s cabin by a riverboat captain decades later, and the cocktail officially became a novelty at the Sourdough Saloon in 1973.
The rules are quite simple: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe.” Also, if you swallow the toe, there is a fine of $2500. The fine for swallowing was only $500, but a man intentionally swallowed the toe in 2013, laid $500 on the bar, and promptly walked out.
The toe has been intentionally swallowed twice. In the 1990’s, the toe was stolen twice, but was returned both times.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed Tuesday that officers were investigating the toe theft.
71,328 Sourtoe Cocktails have been served since 1973. Travelers in the Yukon can still order the Sourtoe, since the saloon has one backup toe. The cocktail will set you back $5.
From Sunday morning to Monday afternoon, my rain gauge totaled 1.9″. That’s a fair amount of precipitation for us in the Interior.
On Friday, we saw the mercury rise to 90 degrees, on Tuesday morning, I found a layer of ice on my truck’s bed cover. ICE!
One never knows what’s around the corner up here. Which, of course, is half the fun.
On Friday, as reported, the temps in Interior Alaska were in the 90’s. On Saturday, the high at my cabin was 80F, and by Sunday things had cooled down to a 54 degree high. A cool-off of 36 degrees since Friday. At the cabin, .7″ of rain fell through Sunday afternoon, which was needed.
On January 18th of this year, the low in Fairbanks was -52F. That makes a 142 degree swing this year alone, from year low to high. 142 degrees, so far…