ALASKA REVISITED: PART I
The seven hour flight was nearly at an end, and only then did I bother to look out the window. Looking down I noticed the glare of the sun, reflected off the snow and ice-capped peaks of the Wrangell Mountains. It was 10:30 pm. I wouldn’t experience darkness again for a month.
The date was June 1, 1997, and the plane was minutes from touching down in Anchorage, Alaska. At the airport I would meet up with Attica native Tim Sawyer, then a phys-ed instructor and high school football coach in Palmer, Alaska. There were two days of classes remaining, after which Tim and I would spend the next month seeing a good deal of Alaska, gold prospecting, hiking, fishing, photography, etc. Our journey would cover more than 2500 miles of Alaskan wilderness with seven different camp sites. Our travels took us through the Alaskan Range, across the Yukon River and beyond, to the Arctic Circle and several stops in between.
The adventure began with a five hour drive north to Fairbanks, then traveling northeast on the Steese Highway, a two-lane gravel road, for one-hundred forty miles. At some point, Tim turned off the “highway,” following a graded secondary road for fourteen miles through the East Crazy Mountains. By traversing a series of rolling hills and valleys, we came to the north fork of Harrison Creek. There we would set up base camp for ten days before moving on to the Arctic Circle and another go at the gold and some mighty fine grayling fishing.
Four weeks later we would cap off our adventure by rafting a forty-seven mile section of the Little Susitna River, a two day excursion in a two-man Zodiac, a rubber raft with wooden floor boards. Through a series of posts over the next few days, I would like to revisit Alaska, and share the experience.