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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hiking in the Aleutians

Camping at an alpine lake on the way to Makushin Bay, September 1996

When I first moved to Alaska every September I'd go out to Dutch Harbor to go hiking with my friend Rick K.  I'd help him finish up his archaeological excavations and then away we'd go out on a backcountry excursion of some sort.

The Aleutians are a great place to go hiking because there is practically no bushwhacking.  It is basically alpine tundra from the coast to mountain top.  The only 'bad' brush that I remember was highbush blueberry bushes and in early September they were all covered with blueberries the size of small grapes - no problem there!

Looking back at the camping gear in pictures brings a smile to my face.  That was some primitive gear!  About the only thing I used back then that I still use in the backcountry today is the Xtra Tuff boots.  Those have not been improved upon for amphibious assaults into Alaska's wilderness.

I remember that Rick and I tried to save weight by not bringing pots and pans and a stove.  So we stocked up on cheese and sausage and food that needed no cooking.  We wandered down the aisles of the local Eagle supermarket looking at the food labels.  We picked out the food with the highest calorie count per weight.  A big winner that I still eat on extended  trips is the liverwurst pate with a devil on the label.  Rick thought maybe we should just buy a vat of Crisco and a bottle of Flinstones Chewable Vitamins.  I think he was kidding.

What I can't believe is that we each brought along a 3-person, four-season tent.  Each of those tents weighed on the order of 10 pounds.  On our elk hunt the teepee that sleeps all 5 of us and the woodstove to warm us weighs less than 7 pounds total.  And check out my rain gear - I brought along the heavy duty Grundens! And no ski poles either.

Still it was a glorious place to go hiking and I was young enough to carry all the extra weight.


Wrong on so many levels - my backpacking set up circa 1996

Yes I did pack Grundens as rain gear for long hikes back in the day 1996

Makushin Bay - Early September 1996

Akutan Caldera, August 1998

Peace 'o' Mind Cabin - Beaver Inlet 1997

Refuge Rock Site and Campsite - Beaver Inlet 1997

Overlooking Kalecta Bay - Becca, Katie, Melia, Don, and Rick

Katie and I on the way to Small Bay - August 1998

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