Mount Shishaldin on Unimak Island has been restless for a while. A USCG plane flying by noticed molten lava at the crater last week. Finally, on Friday the volcano erupted with a plume of ash that reached 15,000 feet. By Saturday evening, the eruption had earned a Level Red Warning, which had returned to Orange by Sunday night.
I have not heard of a major disruption to air traffic yet.
Great Sitkin, further out on the Aleutian Chain is also at Warning Level Orange.
Late on Saturday night, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded 55 miles southwest of Sand Point, Alaska. That triggered a Tsunami Warning from NOAA and the NWS for early Sunday morning. Luckily, waves of only 6″ high were reported, and the warning was cancelled long before I even woke up in the Interior of Alaska.
By Sunday evening, the Alaska Earthquake Center had recorded roughly two dozen aftershocks from the M7.2 quake, the largest at M5.7.
Not to be left out, the city of Anchorage had a gang of emus on the loose. No word on where the emus escaped from. At one point, they were reportedly spotted near the Campbell Airstrip, which I can say from experience, is a great place to start a hike. I also read through the comments on the post, and I must say that not one was remotely helpful on catching a runaway emu.
The Federal Government has designated the Chilkoot as a national historic trail. Gaining fame during the Klondike Goldrush, the Chilkoot was a major thoroughfare into the interior of the Yukon and Alaska. Prior to that, the trail was a major route for the Native population for a millennia.
Currently, the Chilkoot is closed due to major trail damage from flooding this past autumn. A series of atmospheric rivers pummeled the area, The Taiya River reached flood stage on five different occasions during a two month period last fall, eroding banks and dislodging bridges along a large section of the trail, that follows the river.
There is hope that the trail will be open at some point this summer. The complete trail to Bennett Lake has not been open due to Canadian restrictions since the start of the Corvid pandemic. There is also hope that those restrictions will also be lifted for the upcoming hiking season.
Major changes have come to the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. The international race could not survive the Covid pandemic, with Alaska and Canada going their separate ways. Sad news to be sure, since the big appeal to the 1000 mile race was the international aspect of it.
Alaska officials are hoping there is still some interest in an All-Alaskan race, even with it being shortened to 550 miles. Time will tell, but only 13 mushers have signed up to run the 2023 race, to date.
The race will start on the Chena River in Fairbanks, and follow the traditional route to Eagle, Alaska, but after descending American Summit, instead of going on to Dawson, the route will turn south to Chicken and the finish line at Tok, Alaska.
The Yukon Quest 550, as well as a 300 mile race and an 80 mile “fun run”, will all start the morning of February 4th.
Even though Alaska had a warm and very dry start to summer, the state has not seen 90F yet. although some recording stations have hit 89F. A few northern locations in the Yukon and Northwest Territories broke the 90 degree mark, but none in Alaska.
A severe washout has taken out both lanes of the Alaska Highway in British Columbia, just short of the border with the Yukon Territory. The location of the closure is between Liard Hot Springs and Watson Lake. Judging by the size of the ditch, repairs may take a while. No immediate detour is available.
Travelers will have to make a route change early if they want to continue on to Watson Lake and/or Alaska, or do some serious back-tracking. The alternative is the very scenic Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as Highway 37. It’s a beautiful route, but more remote. I recommend bringing extra gas.
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.
Unlike the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest will be anything but normal for 2022. Unlike the All-Alaska Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the Yukon Quest is an international race running between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, YT. This year, there will be no border crossing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The usual 1000 mile race will be separated into four smaller races for 2022. On Saturday, February 5, the YQ350 will start with teams running from Circle to Fairbanks and back to Circle. Also getting its start on Saturday is the YQ200, which is a one-way run from Fairbanks to Circle.
February 19 will see two races start in Whitehorse. The YQ100, which runs from Whitehorse to Braeburn; and the YQ300, which is a roundtrip between Whitehorse and Mandanna Lake.