Hiking across Kodiak Island, Alaska
Sep 7, 2020 at 1:27 am #3675043
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!Dec 2, 2020 at 1:46 pm #3686893
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 LagoonDec 2, 2020 at 1:57 pm #3686901Mammoth CodgerBPL Member
@mammothcodgerLocale: San Diego
Stunning place and video, as always. Thanks for taking us along with you. Your effort in making and sharing these is appreciated!Dec 2, 2020 at 2:16 pm #3686908David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: 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.Dec 2, 2020 at 6:56 pm #3686947Greg MihalikBPL Member
Thank you, Philip.
You’re cutting some are strong onions there.May 4, 2021 at 8:14 pm #3711519
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.May 4, 2021 at 8:44 pm #3711522
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.May 5, 2021 at 4:52 pm #3711607David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: 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.May 7, 2021 at 12:39 pm #3711767
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.Jul 2, 2021 at 8:10 pm #3720911
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.Jul 23, 2021 at 2:04 pm #3722857
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.
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