Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

Sun’s Out; Bears Out

Nuggets by Jamie Smith


Totem House

Totem House, Hoonah, Alaska; circa 1915

Magma Rising

Mount Edgecumbe displacement; Graphic credit: AVO

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the swarm of earthquakes underneath Mount Edgecumbe. The numbers are in, and radar satellite data reveals a ground deformation around the volcano. Data was analyzed for the past 7.5 years, and since 2018, an uplift around Mt Edgecumbe has been constant. The peak activity, around the crater, has shown an average uplift of 3.4″ per year since 2018, and a total uplift of 10.6″.

Earthquakes in and around Mt Edgecumbe, Map credit: AVO

With the data of the ground deformation, AVO has come to the conclusion that the swarm of earthquakes is due to the movement of magma below Mount Edgecumbe, and not due to tectonic activity.

Mount Edgecumbe, a 3200 foot high stratovolcano, lies 15 miles to the west of the community of Sitka. There is no volcanic monitoring system on Edgecumbe, but there is at Sitka. AVO plans to install instruments closer to the volcano in the near future.

The rising of magma under a volcano does not necessarily mean that an eruption is imminent. The deformation and earthquakes could cease at any time. If an eruption were to occur, warning signs such as increased rate of deformation, and an increase in the earthquake swarms, would give advance warning of an eruption.


Hockey in Beantown

What is a group of Puckheads to do while visiting the city of Boston for the D-1 Hockey National Championship? Prior to the games on Thursday, we visited the rinks for all the teams that play in the annual Beanpot Tournament.

Boston University:

Agganis Arena; Boston University Campus

First stop was Agganis Arena on Commonwealth Avenue. The home of the Boston University Terriers. The rink seats 7200, with plush theater seats. I hate to get in the middle of Boston rivalries, but it was arguably the nicest arena we visited. It was also the newest, having been built in 2005.

Hobey, Hardware and Beanpot

I believe it was an assistant coach who gave us directions to get into the rink, after we tracked him down. Nice guy.


Boston College:

Conte Forum; Boston College Campus

A quick trip down Commonwealth brought us to Conte Forum on the campus of Boston College. The home of the BC Eagles. The Forum seats 8606, and opened in 1988.

Just a few of the banners at Conte Forum

Quite a bit larger than the BU rink, as well as older. Major construction was going on around the complex, but we had no trouble finding an open door. A pick up basketball game was taking place on the floor, and someone was even popping popcorn in the concourse.

Showing off the Hardware

One thing we all agreed on was that BC has a beautiful campus.

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Harvard University:

Bright-Landry Hockey Center; Harvard University Campus

Harvard University was our next stop, but the doors were locked to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center at Harvard Stadium. Luckily, a student with a key card approved of our Quest, and opened a door for us. Harvard had the only rink with the ice still in.

The home of the Crimson

The Hockey Center seats 3095 for hockey and opened in 1956.

We did not tour the campus, but did poke around Harvard Stadium a bit, where the football team plays. The Stadium is an early example of building with reenforced concrete. Harvard Stadium opened in November of 1903.

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Northeastern University:

Matthews Arena, Northeastern University Campus

Our final stop on the Quest was Northeastern University and Matthews Arena. We saved the oldest for last. Matthews Arena, which opened in April 1910, is the oldest ice arena still used for hockey, and the oldest multi-use athletic building still in use in the world. Sadly, this is all we saw of it. There was no sympathetic coach or approving student to allow us past the locked doors. In theory, the arena seats 6000 for hockey. We all agreed that the arena does have a nice arch.


White Pass Railroad to remain closed to Canada in 2022

The White Pass & Yukon Route locomotives in Skagway

In spite of relaxed border crossing restrictions between Alaska and Canada, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad announced last week that they would not cross the border. Since the White Pass is the largest tour operator in Skagway, the news was a blow to many.

The train will run to the top of White Pass, and then return to Skagway for 2022, unless restrictions are reduced further.

I have ridden the White Pass and Yukon Route twice: Once, after hiking the Chilkoot Trail, I returned to Skagway on the old steam locomotive #73 from Bennett Lake. One really has to plan the trip to get on board the 73, since at that time, it ran only once a month. The second time was a last minute decision to ride the route on their diesel locomotive round-trip out of Skagway to Carcross. The route runs through some beautiful country, and I know several tour operators that rely on The White Pass for their services. Whether it be B&B’s or bike tours along the Klondike Highway, all are disappointed in the decision.


Chihuly Garden & Glass

Tucked between the Armory and the Space Needle in Seattle Center is Chihuly Garden & Glass. Dale Chihuly started to experiment with glassblowing in 1965, and is largely credited with expanding blown glass into the “realm of large scale sculpture”.

In spite of the tourists, I found the Garden to be a peaceful oasis surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Seattle Center, and the glass work is phenomenal.

Sea Life Tower in the Garden’s Sea Life Room
An octopus in the Sea Life Room


The answer to the Bear Question

National Parks Week: Day Eight

There are four bears in the photo; Image credit: Katmai NP&P


Happy Earth Day


Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

National Parks Week: Day 6

A lone caribou in Gates of the Arctic

As much as I love Denali and Wrangell-St Elias National Parks, I think Gates of the Arctic is Alaska’s crown jewel within the national park system. It is the second largest of our national parks, and its entirety is located north of the Arctic Circle.

Mapping Alaska’s National Parks, with Gates of the Arctic highlighted

Due to the lack of any roads, and its remote location, Gates of the Arctic is the least visited of our national parks. All of that only adds to the appeal for me. In 2016, Gates of the Arctic received 10,047 visitors. In the same year, the Grand Canyon saw over 6 million.

The Park has six Wild and Scenic rivers: the Kobuk, John, Alatna, north fork of the Koyukuk, Tinayguk, and part of the famed Noatak. The Noatak is at the top of my list of rivers to float.

Caribou passing through the Gates

I have only been to the Gates of the Arctic once. A fly in camping trip. One evening, we watched a herd of caribou that probably numbered over 10,000. The entire valley below us was filled with these tundra travelers. It was one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. The next morning, when we peaked over the ridge line, we were surprised to see that there was not one animal left in the valley. The entire herd had moved off, on their endless migration.


Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark

National Parks Week: Day Five

Kennecott

Within Wrangell-St Elias National Park is the old mill town of Kennecott. In 1900, two prospectors, “Tarantula” Jack Smith and Clarence Warner, spotted a green patch in the hills, but thought it was an odd location for a meadow. It turned out to be malachite mixed with chalcocite (copper glance). It was the beginning of the Bonanza Claim.

Kennecott Mine in its heyday

A group called the Alaska Syndicate, which included Daniel Guggenhiem and J.P. Morgan, was formed. Kennecott had five mines: Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, Erie, and Glacier. Between 1909 and 1938 over 4.6 million tons of ore was processed, which produced 1.183 billion pounds of copper.

Gilahina Trestle Bridge, CR&NW RR; Camera: Rolleiflex

To haul the ore out of the remote location of Kennecott, operations needed a railroad. Michael Heney received the right of way up to the Copper River, and started to build the Copper Line in 1906. Meanwhile, Myron Rogers received a four year contract from Guggenheim to build the Northwestern Line, which he started in 1907. That same year, Heney sold the Copper Line to the Alaska Syndicate.

The Million Dollar Bridge

The Miles Glacier Bridge, more commonly known as the Million Dollar Bridge, was one of many obstacles that the Kennecott Corporation faced in building the railroad. The bridge, completed in 1910, came with a whopping $1.4 million dollar price tag. A small nugget when compared with the $100 million profits the mine provided investors.

The last spike, a copper spike, was driven on 29 March 1911, and the first load of copper ore soon traveled down the tracks. The Copper River and Northwestern Railroad, also known locally & affectionately, as the Can’t Run & Never Will, was in operation.

Looking up at the CR&NW

Today, the road to McCarthy and Kennecott is the old CR&NW railroad bed. For years, the drive out to Kennecott was an adventure in avoiding railroad spikes. Many a tire was punctured by an old leftover spike from the Copper River & Northwestern.

I have been out to Kennecott many times. Currently, the mine ruins are undergoing a stabilization. Some buildings, like the post office, are being restored, but for the most part, the National Park Service is just trying to keep them from complete collapse. The new roofs on the buildings are obviously a great start.