Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake. The above photo from the Alaska Digital Archives show the rail line north of Seward after the 9.2 magnitude quake struck South-central Alaska.
Monthly Archives: March 2023
The Return of the Bruin
Local reports have had several bear sightings this past week. The warmer temps and increased daylight have woke the bruins from their winter slumber. Only one casualty that I know of so far: A 50 pound bag of dog food that was left outside in a shed.
The photo was taken by an NPS employee out at Kennecott Mine in Wrangell-St Elias National Park & Preserve.
Lake Kissimmee State Park
This is the Florida I really like. On my only off day in Orlando, not counting the day I flew in, I went out to Lake Kissimmee State Park in search of their 13 miles of trails. Luckily, not one of them had a TRAIL CLOSED sign at the trailhead.
Kissimmee is a 5900+ acre park with an incredible variety of terrain: From forest to floodplain and flatwoods to hammock, Kissimmee had it all.
At the trailhead was a fishing hole that had a lot of attention. Mostly parents with kids were fishing from raised platforms. It wasn’t hard to see why they were fishing from above the shoreline: I immediately spotted two alligators floating offshore, with only the top of their heads out of the water. I could see fish everywhere, practically begging just below the water’s surface. I was told they were Florida Largemouth Bass, although they looked like a bunch of pet carp.
I didn’t hang out long enough to see one caught. I had just spent the past several days immersed in a sea of humanity, with a second round coming the next day, so I was looking for solitude on the trails. I found it too. The only company I had once I left the trailhead was several deer that I hiked past.
It was an absolutely beautiful day, with temps in the low 70’s F, not a cloud in the sky, and I had those 13 miles of trail to hike.
This remnant of Florida fascinates me. I honestly love hiking through the flatwoods and hammocks. It’s so different from what is in Alaska. It’s also kind of enjoyable to be hiking in a t-shirt in March and without mukluks.
They very recently had a controlled burn in the park, and one of the trails went right through one of the burns. The scent of burnt vegetation hung in the air. The burn was so recent, that I would occasionally walk through a pocket of air where I could smell the heat itself. I’m not sure if it was a hot pocket or just an area where the sun beat down in such a way as to amplify the scent, but it was intense.
A perfect way to close out my time in Orlando.
I had never been to Orlando, which shocked the hotel manager. In fact, I even received a head shake when I confessed that this was my first visit to the city. I did not add that I would not have visited at all if it wasn’t a business trip.
It’s an interesting town, and I enjoyed the 80F degrees, but I’d prefer the Everglades or Dry Tortugas. I’m more of an orca in the wild than an orca in a pool, kind of guy.
Still, I did enjoy the trip, and the food was decent, although prices easily surpassed Fairbanks, which took me by surprise. Car rental prices were relatively inexpensive, but gas prices varied wider than I have ever seen. They were all over the map, with a difference of 60 cents a gallon around the city. The cheaper ones are not around the airport, by the way.
Last week, I had a 10 day business trip down under, as in the Lower 48. Orlando was Part One of the excursion. I landed at their airport at 5:30 am. Since I was not going to be allowed to check into the hotel until 3pm, I had some time to kill. After breakfast, I picked up a few things that I forgot to bring and then searched for a park with a trail to hike.
I picked one out and headed down the highway. This was my first time to Orlando, and after spending the past 12 hours traveling, I just wasn’t in the mood for the intense traffic. It’s pretty nasty in Orlando. Shout out to I-4!
After arriving at the park, I walked about a bit then came across the trailhead:
There were three trails, and a TRAIL CLOSED sign at the start of each trail. An hour fighting traffic to go twenty miles, and the trails are closed. I was not impressed. There was no explanation. I’m not overly familiar with trails being closed. In Fairbanks, it’s usually because the trail is going through an active wildfire zone, and in Anchorage I remember warning signs highly discouraging of the use of a trail due to a grizzly killed moose carcass just down wind a bit, and one never knows when that grizzly will return to chow down some more. I was hoping to at least find a sign saying “Trail Closed due to Alligator Eating Wayward Tourist”, but there was no such sign, and I started to assume it was probably due to the trail getting a bit muddy, or something equally hazardous.
In the end, I found what I thought was a small hardly used trail along a creek, but eventually I was told off by a woman in a canoe who said that I was not on an official trail and I needed to go back.
I almost told her to go soak herself, but in the end, I just pointed to the opposite shore, and asked, “Is that an alligator?” Then I walked back to the car.
Getting Edgy Under Edgecumbe
Last April, a series of earthquakes around and under Mount Edgecumbe brought greater attention to what was considered a dormant volcano. Measurements show that magma is moving deep underneath Edgecumbe. Other signs have also brought new scrutiny: Hikers have discovered vents with bubbling gas near the volcano, and satellite images show a bulging of the ground around Edgecumbe.
None of this means that Edgecumbe will blow anytime soon, but the State of Alaska has reclassified Mount Edgecumbe as a “high risk volcano”. With 73,000 people living in the region, the reclassification was probably wise. Currently, the east side of Edgecumbe is bulging faster than any volcano in Alaska.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory has plans to install seismic sensors and other instruments on Mount Edgecumbe over the coming months. Core samples show that the volcano erupted between 4000 -4300 years ago, and Tlingit oral history tells of an eruption approximately 800 years ago.
Currently, Alaska has one volcano at Code Orange, and four others at Code Yellow.