Tag Archives: hiking

Volcanos & Earthquakes with Tsunami & Emu Warnings

Shishaldin Volcano on July 14th; Photo credit:  Lee Cooper, onboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier/AVO

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.


Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

It’s National Parks Week!

My visit to the Gila Wilderness and its cliff dwellings happened early on in the Original Beetle Roadtrip. In many ways it was in the Gila, that a 24 year old Aldo Leopold found his footing. As someone who really enjoyed Leopold’s writing, it was only a matter of time for me to visit the wilderness he proposed and the very first Federally recognized wilderness in the United States.

I found a nice place to camp in the national forest, driving the Beetle across a stream to limit my neighbors, and from that campsite, I explored the Gila.

The Catwalk

Theodore Roosevelt designated the cliff dwellings a national monument in 1907. The monument is 533 acres, and had just over 41,000 visitors in 2016. To me, there seemed to be almost that many people there when I visited. It became a challenge to get a picture taken without a person in the frame, but I worked at it.

The dwellings are located in an absolutely beautiful part of New Mexico. It was easy for me to see why the Mogollon people settled here, and I wondered why they abandoned it years later.

Hiking the trail early in the morning, I was lucky enough to come across a black bear on its morning excursion. Later in the day, I met up with a couple who had seen a mountain lion. I was not at all surprised by either in this beautiful, rugged terrain.


Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

It’s National Park Week!

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is located approximately 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. Originally designated a National Monument in 1978, the area was named a national park by Congress in 1980 via the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Photo credit: NPS

The park itself is roughly 2.6 million acres, with an additional 1.4 million set aside as preserve, putting the total size at just over 4 million acres. In 2018, the park saw 14,000 visitors.

The Lake Clark area gained some degree of fame through the adventures of Dick Proenneke, who documented his homestead life at Twin Lakes before the area became a park. Proenneke not only kept detailed journals, but filmed his world in a documentary style. Alone in the Wilderness, the book about his life at Twin Lakes, and the PBS documentary of the same name were extremely well received by Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike. Not an easy thing to accomplish!

Lake Clark is a vital salmon hatchery for Bristol Bay, and is Alaska’s sixth largest lake at 42 miles long and a maximum depth of just over 1000 feet.

Lake Clark NP&P is also home to two active volcanoes. The ever rumbling Mount Redoubt and Iliamna volcano, which has been quiet of late.

Lake Clark NP&P is not road accessible. One can get to the park via floatplane or via boat from Cook Inlet.


Lake Kissimmee State Park

A trail through Kissimmee

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.

One of several deer I saw while hiking. There were actually three here, with two hiding behind the ferns.

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.

On the edge of a controlled burn

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.


Orlando

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.


Happy Vernal Equinox


The Chilkoot gets historic status

The Golden Staircase on the Chilkoot Trail

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.

The Chilkoot: Alaska to Canada

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.

Hiking the Chilkoot

The Killer


Happy Halloween


Happy Birthday Guadalupe

Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established on this date in 1972. As I’ve said before on here, GMNP is one of my favorite National Parks. My trip there, which involved some serious dirt roading in a ’73 Beetle, was completely spur of the moment and unplanned. I brought back a Bug full of memories when I found this gem in Texas.