Packrafting Portage.

Our awesome friends borrowed packrafts and invited us on an adventure. We loaded packrafts into our backpacks and drove to Whittier. It was our first time to Whittier and our first time through the Whittier Tunnel, I mean the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. From ADoT:

Travel between Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm has always been a vital part of life in Alaska, although modes and routes have continued to change. Chugach Eskimos have hunted and gathered in this area for thousands of years. They trekked over Portage Pass and Portage Glacier to trade and fight with the Athabaskan Indians of Cook Inlet. Many miners and prospectors also used Portage Pass to reach the gold fields of Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula in the late 19th century. Often dropped off at the head of Passage Canal, these adventurers used pack trains, sleds, and pulleys to drag equipment and supplies over Portage Pass in hopes of striking it rich in Cook Inlet or on the Kenai Peninsula. During this period, Portage Glacier still covered most of Portage Lake. Travelers climbed to Portage Pass and traversed the eastern edge of Portage Glacier to Bear Valley. From there they would walk the front of the glacier onto the base of Begich Peak and drop down to Portage Valley.

map showing approximate prospectors route

This route, however, was both difficult and dangerous. In 1914 the Alaska Railroad Corporation began to consider ways to construct a railroad spur to what is now the town of Whittier. While railroad manager Otto Ohlson championed this route because of its ability to provide a shortcut to a deep-water port (a trip to Seward added 52 more miles), this route didn’t become a reality until World War II. The main advantages of using Whittier as a rail port was that it was a shorter voyage, reduced exposure of ships to Japanese submarines, reduced the risk of Japanese bombing the port facilities because of the bad weather, and avoided the steep railroad grades required to traverse the Kenai Mountains.

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In 1941, the U.S. Army began construction of the railroad spur from Whittier to Portage. This line became Alaska’s main supply link for the war effort. Anton Anderson, an Army engineer, headed up the construction. The tunnel currently bears his name.

On April 23, 1943 workers completed the spur, which consisted of a 1-mile tunnel through Begich Peak and a 2.5-mile tunnel through Maynard Mountain, thus linking Whittier to the Alaska Railroad’s main line at Portage.

With a new rail connection to Whittier, the area began to change. In the mid-1940s, work crews and supply ships began to arrive, and population, including military and civilian personnel, swelled to over 1,000. Infrastructure—such as buildings (including the six story Buckner building and the Begich Tower), a power plant, and a petroleum tank farm—began to change the landscape.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.11.53 AM.png

The 1950s brought change to Whittier once again. As the military pulled out, Whittier transformed into a federally run commercial port. This turn of events also provided the opportunity for the private ownership and development potential that exists today.

Arriving in Whittier meant beautiful views of the marina from the local coffee shop. The best way to keep people out of Whittier is to repeat the mantra, “It is always shittier in Whittier”.

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After a brief tour of the whole town, we began our hike.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.12.25 AM.pngIt is a short and steep hike. Packs were loaded with boats, lunch, paddles, clothes, and snacks.

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As we crested the summit our merry band of travelers enjoyed the views and the walk in the mountains.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.13.39 AM.pngThe end of the trail was stunning.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.13.59 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.14.17 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.14.42 AM.pngWe had a quick lesson on how to inflate the boat, wear a dry suit, and try to go in a forward direction. Then we were off.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.15.11 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.15.33 AM.png

We paddled across the lake until we found the outlet. Then we floated and paddled downstream to where the river meets Turnagain Arm. It was an incredible adventure that made me appreciate the outdoors and Alaska’s beauty even more.

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Hex hatch in Washington.

Looking for a ton of fun? Go fish the Hex hatch at Merrill Lake. We arrived a little before 7pm and not much was happening. Both of us on float tubes allowed to explore the deeper parts of the lake, but we knew exactly where to be when the sun goes down.
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Every year, like clockwork, when the sky really starts to turn dark, the splashing starts. It sounds like kids throwing rocks from shore. The big Hex bugs are coming off. The fish are eating them. The bats are eating them. The birds are eating them.Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.04.12 AMIf you want a real adventure, it is just a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle. Driving for 7 hours just for 1 hour of good fishing. Typical.

Another Yak float.

Fly fishing the Yakima River is such a standard activity for any fly angler living in Seattle. The caddis were abundant and the small cutthroat trout eagerly try to devour anything floating over their head. Derek, Jason, and I spent a hot day floating downstream occasionally catching fish and mostly solving life’s problems. It was what a good day of fishing should consist of.

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Fishing week!

Fishing 5 days a week is fantastic. Especially when it is 5 different environments. This is Kopachuck at low tide fishing for sea run cutthroat trout. That little speck in the water is my buddy James. He took my canoe over to that island in the distance and allegedly caught a big one on his first cast.Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.17.13 AM I also got to float the Snoqualmie with Derek and Skip. It was a great day of discussing what is important in life.Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.17.21 AM Derek let loose a little secret about the “Upper Deck”. Not the kind where you poop in the reservoir of a toilet. But this place was a beautiful place to fish with nobody around.Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.17.48 AM I even got a little bit of steelheading in with a couple of guys from the shop.Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.17.31 AM Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.17.00 AM5 of 5 will be after work today. It is light until past 9pm these days so us fishing junkies can still scratch the itch after work. We are also putting together an online magazine that will be released soon!