Tag Archives: Canada

The Tamarack

I have a soft spot for the tamarack tree. It’s a tough, ornery, slow growing tree, that can be found in the low, boggy areas of Interior Alaska. Our population is distinct, in that it is 430 miles from the closet neighboring tamarack grove in the Yukon.

Tamarack is the Algonquian name for “wood used for snowshoes”, which makes it even more endearing. It is a pioneer tree in the north. Often the first to take hold in a swamp or bog, or after a fire ravages through a lowland area.

In the autumn, the tamarack turns a brilliant gold, often long after the birch and aspen have lost their leaves entirely.


Happy Canada Day


Honkers


Humboldt Broncos

The hockey community throughout Canada and the U.S. was rocked by news of a bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos, a Saskatchewan junior hockey team.

A semi-truck slammed into the charter bus carrying the team to the Game 5 playoff game against Nipawin in the SJHL semifinals. Of the 29 people on the bus, 15 have died and the other 14 are injured. Head coach Darcy Haugan,Broncos captain Logan Schatz, 20, and teammates Adam Herold, 16, Jaxon Joseph, 20, Xavier Labelle, 18, Logan Hunter, 18, and Stephen Wack, 21, along with Tyler Bieber, a play-by-play announcer, were among the known victims to have passed.


The Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Photo credit: Humboldt Broncos/Twitter

There were 24 players on the Broncos, between the ages of 16-21.
Curt Giles, the former North Star great, and current Edina High School coach, played for Humboldt back in 1973-1975. “It’s a great little farming town of around 6,000, and that hockey team is everything to the people,’’ Giles said. “It’s small town Canada at its best. I can only imagine the broken hearts in Humboldt this morning. Terrible. The hockey team is the anchor of that town. All the players live with a host family. I lived with the Grunskys for two years. Great people.”*

A Gofundme page has been started for the Broncos players and families. Within 18 hours, it has raised over $1 million of the $2 million goal.

Quote by Curt Giles was given to Patrick Ruesse


The Palm Sunday Avalanche

3 April 1898:
The Chilkoot Trail, Alaska Territory


Front page of the Dyea Press, 4 April 1898

The conditions were perfect: Late season snow, followed by days of unusually warm temperatures, which were followed by another snowstorm. Experienced packers refused to head up the trail, due to the conditions, but many stampeders didn’t listen and carried their own supplies up the trail towards Canada.

The avalanches started on 2 April. A small camp of 20 men was buried, but all were dug out alive. The snow really started to fall on Sunday, the third, which happened to be Palm Sunday. Mini avalanches rumbled from the mountain pass, so The Scales on the Chilkoot Trail were abandoned for the day. Roughly 150 men headed down the mountain pass towards Sheep Camp.

Then the main avalanche hit.


Stampeders looking for fellow buried miners after avalanche. Courtesy of Yukon Archives

The avalanche swept down from above The Scales and headed towards Sheep Camp. When it came to a halt, it covered an area of 10 acres under 30-50 feet of snow. Stampeders raced up from Sheep Camp digging frantically for survivors. At least 65 men were killed by the avalanche, but that number is an estimate, considering the mad rush that was taking place on the Chilkoot to get to the Klondike gold fields.

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The Slide Cemetery
Dyea, Alaska


The Slide Cemetery in Dyea, Alaska – Camera: Kodak Folding Cartridge; Film: Kodak Verichrome 120

I hiked the Chilkoot Trail several years ago, and have written about that trek on here before. When I did that hike, one of the cameras I carried was an old Kodak No.2 Folding Cartridge. I thought it would be cool to carry a camera that was at least close to the era of the Klondike Stampede, even though this particular Kodak was manufactured around 20 years, or so, after the famed gold rush.

There is very little left of the town of Dyea from its heyday. A few store fronts are propped up in the woods, and the old dock piers are still visible going out into the bay. Dyea is also the location of the Slide Cemetery. All of the bodies that were found under the Palm Sunday Avalanche are buried here. I ventured out there with my cameras before I started on the hike. It’s an eerie place, which is only compounded by seeing the same date etched onto every grave marker: April 3, 1898. The air hung heavy, and the only sound that broke the silence was the click of my camera’s shutter.


E.T. Hutton Camera: Kodak Folding Cartridge; Film Kodak Verichrome 120

I was out there for quite some time, but I had the cemetery to myself; not one other person came by. The cemetery is not layed out in neat rows; the grave markers are haphazardly scattered about, which makes complete sense considering its origins. Today, the forest is reclaiming much of the cemetery.

I had taken several pictures from different angles, when a strong breeze blew in; I could follow the gust as it moved its way through the trees towards the cemetery. It blew overhead, and I looked up in time to see large broken limb fall from the trees above. I easily jumped out of the way, and the shaggy treetop landed right where I was standing. I thought for a moment, then said out loud: “I can take a hint. Just one more picture, and I will leave you in peace.”

I took the silence for an answer, clicked my final photograph, then left Dyea. Looking back at the print, I think the old Kodak did a great job of capturing the eerie feel of the cemetery that day.


A Kodak No.2 Folding Cartridge Camera


1932 Olympic Arena

The 1932 Olympic Winter Games were also held in Lake Placid. Clarkson Doug & I did a quick tour of that arena prior to the ECAC Championship game.

The old arena is still being used today. In fact a Can/Am Tournament was being held that week.

The arena is now dedicated to Jack Shea, the first American to win two gold medals at a Winter Olympics. He won twice for speed skating in 1932.


During the ’32 Olympics; Photo credit: Team USA Hockey

Canada, represented by the Winnipeg Hockey Club would win gold in ’32. The USA took home silver, and Germany won the bronze.


Alaska’s Only Hummingbird


Photo credit: Audubon.org

Alaska has a lot of summer visitors, one is the Rufous hummingbird, the only hummingbird that visits the Last Frontier.

At only 3″ tall, with a wingspan of about 4″, the Rufous is quite the robust traveler. They winter in Mexico, start their crossing of the Rocky Mountain states in late spring, and spend the summer in the Northwest, Canada and Alaska. For many of the speedy flightsters, it can be a 7800 mile round trip.

They are quite territorial over both nesting and food sites, and have been known to attack chipmunks that get too close to their nests. The main, natural predator is snakes, which makes Alaska a wonderful breeding ground.