Topic

Hiking across Kodiak Island, Alaska


Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Campfire Member Trip Reports Hiking across Kodiak Island, Alaska

Viewing 25 posts - 151 through 175 (of 182 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #3675043
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Well, thank you. That’s very sweet. I mostly make videos for my own consumption and entertainment, but I’m happy to share and am gratified if folks get some joy from me documenting these trips. It’s not lost on me that I am blessed to live in a beautiful place, and I’m happy to showcase what makes coastal Alaska special. Cheers!

    #3686893
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    One last video from this year. I did an overnight packrafting and hiking trip to an island north of Kodiak called Spruce Island to visit a site of religious significance to the Russian Orthodox faithful, called Monk’s Lagoon. This video took me longer to edit than most despite it being short. I just had a hard time working on it because the purpose of the trip was to mourn the loss of a friend who passed away this September.

    I’m not religious, or really even spiritual. But I’ve visited Monk’s Lagoon before when I was sad, and it is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. The history of the place is fascinating if you are curious about the St Herman iconography.

    You can see the video here: Monk’s Lagoon

    #3686901
    Mammoth Codger
    BPL Member

    @mammothcodger

    Locale: San Diego

    Stunning place and video, as always. Thanks for taking us along with you. Your effort in making and sharing these is appreciated!

    #3686908
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    It’s long been obvious that Philip is a better wilderness adventurer and videographer than I am and I’ve really appreciate getting to watch his films – they’ve helped inspire some of my own trips.  Maybe more so, some of my 20-year-old son’s off-trail outings on the Kenai Peninsula.

    Earlier this year, due to Covid travel restrictions, I hired him to check out a few toxic waste sites for me on Kodiak.  Turns out he’s also at least as good an inspector and a much better botanist than me.

    #3686947
    Greg Mihalik
    Spectator

    @greg23

    Locale: Colorado

    Thank you, Philip.

    You’re cutting some are strong onions there.

    #3711519
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    As you can tell from my TRs, I usually shoot video, but this one is a photo essay. I just spent the past week and a half on the south end of Kodiak Island helping a friend conduct a spring field archaeological site survey of prehistoric Native Alaskan settlements. The Kodiak Archipelago was settled approximately 7,500 years ago by coastal peoples called the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, and the Natives went through a series of ‘traditions’ of natural resource use, types of art and tools produced, and styles of dwelling construction that define the time periods/traditions. Our purpose on these spring surveys is not to do any excavation but rather to identify sites of prehistoric use and importance, and perhaps to categorize those sites by the likely tradition. My friend is the archaeologist on the trip and I am basically just there helping with safety, daily chores, and logistics. I pick the camp sites, pitch the tent, put the wood stove together, cut and split all the firewood, fetch water, consider weather forecasts and tide cycles, etc. He just runs around and maps.

    We got dropped off in Deadman Bay just south of Ivor Cove and inflated the kayaks and headed north up the Hepburn Peninsula. The weather was pleasant if cool with a slight head wind.

    We go this time of year because after the grass and other veg starts to grow it totally obscures the subtle depressions in the ground delineating the house pits and obscuring things like fire-cracked rock and midden debris.

    Though the salmonberry canes are always standing tall:

    Our arrival coincided with a mass molting event by Tanner crab on the east side of Kodiak Island and the crab ‘casts’ (the discarded shells) lined the beaches like a bathtub ring running for miles. Hundreds of thousands of crab casts washed up in a single tide cycle.

    We were there during some of the largest tides of the spring and when combined with very strong winds the second night, some of the crab which had come into shallower waters to molt misjudged the low tide line and had not completed the molting process before the tide receded, leaving them exposed in varying states of undress.

    Happily most crab got the timing and tide cycle right, but it was a fatal miscalculation for some.

    The weather was blustery and cold and it made living in a nice big DCF Seek Outside Redcliff with a wood stove an absolute must.

    We cook all breakfasts and dinners over the wood stove and carry a canister stove for emergency use and for heating water for drinks. The food is basically not light. Backcountry diner fare. Fried SPAM, hashed browns, fresh eggs, and nettles we picked.

    We saw less marine critter life than in other parts of the archipelago. Some harbor seals, but other than a pod of orcas that swam by, that was about it. But there were deer and foxes and bears wandering about.

    After paddling back down the west shore of the bay to the tip of the Moser Peninsula, we waited for a plane that would take our paddling gear back to town and drop us with backpacking equipment on the southernmost tip of Kodiak Island at Cape Trinity.

    #3711522
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    After getting dropped off, we began the hike from Cape Trinity to Russian Harbor, which was the first site of the Russian colonial contact with the Natives in Kodiak. What followed (at that time) was a long and complicated and often tragic series of events. But our hike up the coast was largely without drama though we only had a single day of actually nice weather as we surveyed the entire shore of the Russian Harbor lake/lagoon.

    A year-old Sitka blacktail sleeps in the sunshine out of the wind in the lee of a hill.

    A male willow ptarmigan already in summer plumage.

    Hiking up the west shore of Russian Harbor lagoon. The mountains in the distance are where we were paddling just a day before.

    After a frankly long and hummock- and tussock-filled slog around the head of Russian Harbor lagoon, we camped about a half mile from the previous night on the opposite side of the lagoon entrance. Not much ‘map’ progress considering the distance we had traveled that day.

    I found a bear skull on the beach.

    Kodiak has a lot of foxes that come in a variety of color phases like red, silver, cross, and some weird combinations.

    With no trees, eagles nest on the ground and take advantage of rock outcrops and pinnacles along the coast where possible.

    From northeast of Russian Harbor all the way to our pickup destination in Old Kaguyak Bay we ran into bears. Lots (and lots) of bears.

    I’ve seen bears napping in some odd spots before, but this one was new to me.

    We were hiking into the wind so the bears could not smell us coming. That was okay given the open terrain where we could generally spot them as we moved along, and once they saw us too they (mostly) cordially cleared out of the way. On the plus side, they make nice trails through otherwise difficult hiking conditions.

    Probably a Pacific white sided dolphin skull.

    We saw nearly no deer carcasses from winter kill, which was a welcome change from last spring.

    A colossal whale rib. I would not have imagined bears would be strong enough to drag this up into the grass from the beach.

    It was pelting rain into our faces for the whole last day. Not my favorite hiking conditions.

    We arrived in Old Kaguyak and Rolan with Sea Hawk Air came to pick us up.

    #3711607
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    So many great photos.  Thanks, Philip!

    One of which answered a question I’d long had, “How much does a crab grow between molting?  In that shot of a crab having expanded once outside of its old shell, it looks to be 140% of it’s old width.  1.4^3=2.7 times the volume/mass so they actually could increase quite a bit in size after each shedding.

    I would have thought they could expand so much living in a rigid shell, but nature finds a way.

    #3711767
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    The increase in carapace width (called the ‘molt increment’) for Tanner crab of this size cohort which undergo a molt is generally around 25-30 mm. In Kodiak, the legal size for retaining a [male] Tanner crab is 140 mm (5.5″), so judging by the size of some of the crab casts left behind indicates a possible increase in legal crab available to a fishery.

    I don’t know in detail how they get out of their shells, but they swell immediately. It’s pretty wild.

    Cheers.

    #3720911
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Between doing our spring rockfish hydroacoustic survey work around the Kodiak Archipelago, I popped up to Shuyak to do a lap around the island during some lovely late June weather.

    Shuyak Island Packraft 2021

    #3722857
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Last week we had a nice weather window so I headed back up to north Afognak Island to explore some parts of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge that I had not traveled through before. It really is one of my favorite places to hike and paddle, and it’s just a 45 minute hop on the mail plane away from my home in Kodiak. Enjoy.

    The Mountains, Lakes & Wildlife of Afognak Island

    #3749022
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I just got back from a 6-day trip on the east side of Kodiak where I helped my friend, Patrick, do his usual spring archaeological site survey. This time we canvassed the north shore of Kiliuda Bay. The weather was not very cooperative with a lot of rain and temps in the 30’s to low 40’s, but thankfully there was little wind. The bay is very exposed to the Gulf of Alaska, and much wind or swell would have made getting around a bit dicey. We saw about a dozen brown bears and as many foxes, but only a single Sitka blacktail deer which makes me nervous about their winter mortality. As usual, the Seek Outside DCF Redcliff was a palace for 2 and the wood stove is the only thing that makes camping in the rain pleasant this time of year. This trip is always an eclectic mix of light and heavy gear.

    #3749028
    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member

    @kbabione

    Locale: Pennsylvania

    Thank you.

    #3756224
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    This has been my skinniest summer for backcountry adventuring in a while with my busy work schedule in May and June, and then a funky weather pattern in July. But I finally got back to Shuyak Island for a lap, and the sheer volume of animals the Kodiak Archipelago offers up for your viewing pleasure never disappoints. The trip had its challenges with a bit of wind at the start and a strained tendon in my forearm, but I guess that comes with the territory. Years of experience on Shuyak has taught me how to use the tides to my advantage, and getting whisked along at a jogging clip through sloughs and narrows was the payoff for all that ‘research’. In my estimation, this is the finest destination for coastal packrafting in Alaska. Cheers.

    #3780574
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    We headed down to Kiliuda Bay to do some archaeological site survey work and to contemplate the question, “how many bears is enough?”

    #3785834
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I popped up to the north side of Afognak Island on the mail plane to do another paddle/hike loop in my favorite part of the Kodiak archipelago. If you have 3.5 minutes to waste, take a look.

    2023 Paddle/Hike Loop on North Afognak Island

    #3785836
    Glen L
    Spectator

    @wyatt-carson

    Locale: Southern Arizona

    Fantastic stuff

    looks like you have the world there to yourself mostly

    #3785839
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    amazing scenery, thanks for posting

    what do you do about grizzly bears?  I assume those are grizzly bears.  Did you carry bear spray?  They seemed to just look at you curiously then move on.

    #3785842
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    It’s amazing how few people visit that part of the Kodiak Archipelago. I was leafing through the visitor log at the Blue Fox Bay NWR cabin and there are maybe 3 or 4 parties that stay there in a given year. Most folks explore the bay and do nearby hikes. There are effectively no trails other than game trails from deer, elk and bears. It’s entirely possible that I will be the only person to visit Red Peak (the area at about minute 2 of the video) this year. In 30+ years I don’t think I have ever encountered another person in the backcountry unless I’m near a cabin, lodge, or cannery down on the coast. It’s a wonderfully wild place.

    Those are Kodiak brown bears- a subspecies of North American brown bears. They are wild and hunted, and so are actually very afraid of humans. If you show interest in them they will run away. But I like being able to watch them, so we generally keep a low profile and let them go about their business. Yes, I carry bear spray. In 30+ years and thousands of miles of backcountry travel in southcentral AK, I have run into many hundreds of brown bears. In all those encounters I think I have pulled my spray out of the holster maybe about 20 times, pulled the safety out a half-dozen times, and only discharged it once. Kodiak is a pretty safe place to be around brown bears. They are intelligent and really don’t want to interact with you. This was actually the first trip I have done in a very long time where I didn’t see a bear.

    Cheers folks!

    #3785844
    Glen L
    Spectator

    @wyatt-carson

    Locale: Southern Arizona

    “maybe 3 or 4 parties that stay there in a given year”

    You are probably the only person to see most of the things in those photos and other places you visit there. When there are no trails it is a mental barrier for a high percentage of people. The backcountry in a National Park near is like that, major artifacts strewn over the ground so thick that it impossible not to step on a few. No water helps too and will keep folks out but in your case it is the utter remoteness. Beautiful

    #3785848
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    Your videos always blow me away.

    #3786106
    Parke L
    BPL Member

    @parkus

    @Philip or others with local intel: A group of us are attempting our own Old Harbor to Kodiak traverse. Do you know if it is possible to buy bear spray and fuel for a canister stove in Old Harbor so that we don’t have to try to fly with them? Gwenolook Food Store seems like a possibility, but I can’t get them on the phone.

    Awesome hikes and trip reports, Philip! Can’t believe you have kept this thread going for a decade. Very informative.

    #3786107
    Parke L
    BPL Member

    @parkus

    Update: Got a friendly fella from Kodiak Combos on the phone and he said there isn’t anywhere that sells bear spray or stove fuel in Old Harbor, so I guess you gotta bring it with you.

    #3786108
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    You can fly with bear spray on the local air taxi services, like Island Air, Sea Hawk, etc. Simply tell the pilot that you have the stuff and how it’s stored. On float planes they place it down in the floats. On some model wheel planes they might have an exterior-access storage or a dedicated ammo can. Of course you cannot fly commercially (Alaska Airlines) with bear spray, so pick it up when you arrive in Kodiak, but don’t bet on Old Harbor. Ask ahead with the local air taxi service if they have spare spray. Lots of people buy it in Kodiak and then cannot leave the island with it so they run a ‘give a can, take a can’ thing at the office. It’s worth an ask. I fly constantly with bear spray on the mail plane. Just tell the pilot about it. Same goes for canister stoves, but because that is less dangerous the air taxi operators generally don’t take special measures and the stove can stay in our pack.

    Big Ray’s in downtown Kodiak should have spray and fuel. Otherwise lots of stores in town including WalMart (a few miles from downtown) has stuff too.

    If you need route advice, shoot me a DM.

    -P

    #3786109
    Parke L
    BPL Member

    @parkus

    Thanks for the beta! Always helpful to get some route advice. Will DM.

Viewing 25 posts - 151 through 175 (of 182 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Loading...