Ravn Air, which serves eleven communities within Alaska, is looking at a very big expansion in area covered. The relatively small airline, is considering a plan to fly into Tokyo, Seoul, Orlando, Newark, Las Vegas, Oakland and Ontario, California. The airline would purchase ten new Boeing 757 jets.
Ravn Air went belly up only days into the pandemic in 2020, and was recently bought by California investors out of bankruptcy. I suppose the California connection makes sense for the proposed routes to the west coast, but it seems like a great leap of faith.
I remember Mark Air very well. It also was a small airline serving the small communities within Alaska, then they expanded big into the Lower 48, only to file for bankruptcy when they overextended themselves.
Ravn Alaska currently has a fleet of Dash-8 propeller planes.
The southwestern village of Kwigillingok, which lies on the Bering Sea coast, within the vast Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, is seeing some of the worst flooding anyone can remember. Flooding is not rare at Kwigillingok, but the severity of Friday’s high tide has reached a new threshold.
Buildings within the village are on pilings, so water did not breach any structures, but time does not appear to be on the village’s side.
The melting permafrost is causing land subsidence, which has made the village very susceptible to flooding, especially at high tide. The flooding then speeds up the melting of the permafrost even more, causing a harsh cycle.
Several homes are slated to be moved due to the threat of erosion, but the entire village is now contemplating a move to higher ground.
The 116th Midnight Sun Baseball Game took place on Monday night. The first pitch for the annual Solstice event was fired off at 10pm. The game is played in its entirety without the use of artificial lights.
The seventh inning stretch usually lands around midnight, with the playing of the Alaska Flag Song. It’s quite the event, and brings out the largest crowd of the season for the Panners.
Growden Park was looking pretty good after some off season renovations, and the Goldpanners are fielding a decent team this year.
The Alaska Goldpanners have hosted the game since 1960, and have a dominating record of 47-14. In 2020, with the Goldpanners in hiatus, the game took place with a men’s league team losing to a Legion All-Star team. The game has never seen artificial light, and it has never been rained out.
On Monday/Tuesday, the Panners defeated the Everett Merchants 3-0.
The photo above, which I’ve posted on here before, was taken at midnight on a hike out to Tolovana Hot Springs. At the top of the pass, I took this photo, before dropping down into the hot springs. Most people trek out here in the winter months, by ski, dog sled or snowmachine. We hiked out in June, and it was a slog, but we had the springs to ourselves, which was an incredible few days. Very fond memories.
Fairbanks, in case anyone was curious, will see 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight, with the rest of the 24 hours being filled in with civil twilight.
The camera, for the above photo, was an old Canon Canonet; the film I believe was Fuji, probably high speed.
An ice-dammed lake above the Valdez Glacier is undergoing an outburst event, which started on Friday. Water levels in Valdez Creek and Valdez Lake will be seeing a considerable rise.
This is a biannual event, which usually happens in mid June and then again in the fall. Water builds up in the lake above the glacier until the pressure raises the ice, and the water flows down the mountain.
The image above shows the lake caught behind the ice dam. The ice wall in the picture is approximately 200 feet high.
First image credit: City of Valdez; Second image credit: National Weather Service
Chickenstock, the music festival at “the top of the world”, has returned after a year off due to the pandemic. The music begins on Friday and will continue through Saturday, but this is Chicken, and one never really knows when the festivities will end. The festival is hosted by the Chicken Gold Camp. Chickenstock is a very Alaskan event, not to be confused with Salmonfest. Local breweries and food trucks will be on hand, but it is best to be prepared for a self-sufficient, off-the-grid weekend.
Chicken, Alaska was founded by goldminers in the late 1800’s. In 1902, the community built a post office, but they needed a name for the town. With so many ptarmigan around, the miners wanted to call it Ptarmigan, but they could not agree on how to spell the word, so the miners settled on Chicken.
Located on the Taylor Highway, Chicken is completely off-grid. There is no cell service, electricity, running water, ATM’s or wifi for 100 miles. Chickenstock is a BYOW event: as in, Bring Your Own Water. You will be able to buy beer. Remember to pack it in and pack it out.
The music is always very good, and there are all sorts of activities planned for the weekend including the annual “Chicken-Legs-Morning-After-5K-Run”, which takes place Saturday morning.
Sockeye salmon are being caught at the mouth of Resurrection Bay. Fishing should/hopefully improve over the coming weeks. Like every season, the Return of the Sockeye is an inexact science. Bristol Bay is expecting a great return, the Copper River, not so much. For the rest of us in-between? Time will tell.
For the past decade, my little group of salmon chasers have seen full freezers in odd years, and a battle to fill, in even years. I’m looking forward to seeing if that trend continues, as I have a near empty freezer.
Artwork by the ever talented, slightly twisted, and all-Alaskan: Ray Troll
Early numbers on returning sockeye salmon to the Copper River are not encouraging. Less than 64,000 sockeyes have gone past the Department of Fish & Game’s sonar tower. That is less than half the goal of 148,000 returning spawners, putting 2021 at 13th on the worst year list.
News of the returning numbers come as the personal use, dip net fishery will see its first open window on Thursday June 10. For 96 hours, permitted Alaskans can take home 25 salmon for the head of household, and an additional 10 for each dependent. Only one of these can be a king salmon. This first window will be 72 hours shorter than expected due to the low return.
Salmon prices are sky high right now, with kings going for $19.60 a pound, and sockeyes a respectable $12.60. In 2020 the salmon netted $6.00 and $4.00 respectively.
Commercial fisherman have seen three 12 hour fishing periods in May.
Volcanos world-wide seem to be getting a bit anxious of late, and Alaska has three rumbling right now. The Great Sitkin volcano, which dominates the skyline of Great Sitkin Island, erupted on May 25. Lauren Flynn of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service captured this image as Great Sitkin erupted. Flynn was aboard the Research Vessel Tiglax at the time.
Great Sitkin Island was a fuel depot during WWII. The island lies between Adak and Atka, and is roughly 11 miles long by 10-1/2 miles wide. The Great Sitkin volcano rises to a height of 5710 feet above sea level.