Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 summer season report

We started this summer's season with an exploratory trip into the Petroleum Reserve on the Kokolik River. Dirk with Coyote Air flew us into the headwaters of the Kokolik on June 17th with a couple from Arkansas and we were greeted by a balmy 80 degrees. After a cold winter and late snow we were paddling the river in the midst of the snow melt. The river was high and really muddy, no fishing. Despite we had an amazing trip with almost no bugs, 80 degree weather for 4 days, many musk ox sighting and 2 close up Grizzlies as well as seeing the big Western Arctic Caribou Herd march across a ridge for hours, we must have see caribou in the thousands.

A great start to one of the sunniest summers in a decade was followed with a kayak trip with one client from Germany in Katmai National Park on the Savonovski Loop. We had an amazing time watching three sets of female bears with cubs on Grosvenor Lake and Research Bay on Naknek Lake. Mama bear was trying to teach the little bears to swim, but they were not ready yet. They were having a screaming fit every time mama bear would get in the water and would try to swim to the island we were camped on. This was repeated several times a day and we were able to witness this over the course of 2 days until we left to paddle into Brooks Camp.

We had some time off to build a new wood shed in early July and then spent the most amazing 9 sunny days back packing into the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes with two amazing young ladies from Switzerland and France. I have never seen so much of the Valley in my 10 years of guiding there. We were able to hike across Katmai Pass, climb New Tident peak with an amazing view of the coast all the way to Kodiak Island, 2 great days at Novarupta with a hike near the base of Mount Trident and amazing views of Mount Katmai and the Knife Glaciers, we saw a female caribou and calf in the Valley.
The final 2 days were spent by ourselves at Baked Mountain Hut and a climb to the top of Baked Mountain with a 360 degree view all around including Mount Martin, Mount Mageik, Trident Volcano, Mount Katmai, Mount Griggs. Instead of crossing frigid water in Windy Creek we were able to take a bath in the creek after a 9 day backpack without a shower. The water seemed warm and comfortable, we could have stayed in for hours. Back to the Three Forks Overlook and back on the bus to Brooks Camp. The trip culminated with amazing bear watching at the Brooks River  platform. We counted 15 bears including a set of cubs.

Our last trip of the summer season brought us back to the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The trip starts with a drive to Fairbanks, where we spend the night. Our clients fly into Fairbanks and take a short bush flight to the small community along the Dalton Highway in Coldfoot. Dirk with Coyote Air is our preferred pilot to bring us to the river. It is a 2,5 hour flight in a Beaver on wheels from Coldfoot.The Kongakut is one of the most beautiful and most  rivers in Alaska. The fishing and eating of the Arctic Char is phenomenal. The scenery is breathtaking, all of the 60 miles we float are in the mountains, the hiking right off the rivers edge into the mountains following dall sheep trails is some of the best we have seen. We always see a few caribou wandering the river valley in mid August. We spend two weeks on the river. We often have very sunny weather in mid August, the bugs are gone, days are in the 50's to 60's and nights are cool. We have experienced snow on one trip. We have always gone in mid August. There is enough water to get a raft down the river. The water is very clear and the char are coming up the river from the Beaufort Sea. They are delicious fish over a camp fire. There is enough drift wood, to build a small fire away from camp for some char coal hot enough to cook a fish. We have seen different wildlife over the years since our first trip up there in 2008: moose, musk ox, caribou, wolf, dall sheep and a variety of migratory birds.
This was our last trip this season in Alaska. We hope to go back to the Kongakut River many more times, there is always a new ridge to walk, a new valley to explore!

We hope to see you in 2014!

Kathi Merchant
Alaska Ultra Sport

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Summer season finished looking ahead into 2012.

Our summer guiding season went well. Our kayaking trips in Katmai National Park were very popular this season. We saw many bears on all of our trips in June, July and the August trip. Even the weather cooperated and we had a bit of sunshine on every trip. We also went on the Marsh Fork of the Canning River in ANWR and had 10 days of sunshine on that trip. All in all it was a great summer guiding season for us in Alaska this summer.  In early September we returned to Southern Utah to get ready for a three week mountain biking trip in the desert. We just finished this trip What a great way to end the season. Thanks everyone that booked a trip with us this summer. We are looking forward to our 2012 guiding season. Contact us now to find out what new adventures await you in 2012.

Kathi & Bill Merchant
Alaska Ultra Sport

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First trip of our Alaska summer season

Finally summer is here in Alaska. Bill and I are heading out tomorrow for our first trip of the season in Katmai National Park guiding a trip on the 90 mile Savonovski Loop per kayak as well as a hike into the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
 Looking forward to be back in this park and enjoy seeing this magnificent landscape and the bears of Katmai.

Reports and pictures of our trips will follow later this summer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goldmine threatens Alaska's Bristol Bay

New gold rush jeopardizes salmon runs, bears and water sheds in Bristol Bay.
Take action, show your support for this unique ecosystem. We need to protect it.
Check out our article in MuchBetterAdventures E-Mag from Dec 9th.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Now taking bookings for the 2011 season

After a successful 2010 summer season with trips to Katmai National Park,
Gates of the Arctic National Park and a spring trip in Utah and Arizona we are now taking booking reservations for the 2011 summer season. Besides our wilderness trips and race in Alaska we are now also offering guided mountain bike trips in Southern Utah and Arizona. We are looking forward to another successful race on the Iditarod Trail this coming February and March. Our race roster has been full since May 1 of this year with several racers on a waiting list. Hope everyone is enjoying fall and looking forward to the first flakes of snow.

Kathi Merchant
Alaska Ultra Sport

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 summer season

The 2010 Iditarod Trail Invitational started on Feb. 28th at 2:00 PM at Knik Lake. Out of 44 racers that started the race 35 finished in MacGrath after 350 miles on the Iditarod Trail. This was Peter Basingers fourth win and Tracey Petervary from Wyoming set a new women's 350 and 1100 mile record. 5 racers continued on to Nome and the 3 cyclist and runners Tim Hewitt and Tom Jarding have arrived in Nome. Tom Jarding set a new overall foot record to Nome, Tracey Petervary holds the fastest time to Nome for a woman.
We have already received over 70 e-mails for the 2011 race which will follow the Southern Route.
Sign up for the 2011 race starts April 1 for race veterans that have finished the 350 and/or 1100 mile race before and rookies can sign up starting April 8th, 2010.
Bill and I will be in Germany to visit family from April 1- April 21.
Racers should contact us by e-mail to secure a spot in the race for 2011.
On May 1 we are off to Utah and Arizona for 5 weeks to guide a two week Mountain bike trip and then explore more trails in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
We will be back in Alaska June 7th to begin our summer guiding season here.
We still have some availability for guided sea kayaking trips and river floats in the months July and August for those interested in a guided summer vacation in Alaska.
We hope to do another exploratory sea kayaking trip in Prince William Sound in June.
Our favorite areas are based out of Valdez, Alaska.
Last year we explored Glacier Island, Columbia Glacier, Sawmill Bay, Shoup Bay and Jack Bay.
In the fall we did an exploratory trip in Southwestern Alaska in Wood Tikchik State Park.
I am exited about another summer filled with adventures by bike and sea kayak in the Southwestern USA and Alaska.

Kathi M.
Alaska Ultra Sport

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Guiding Season 2009

Our 2009 summer guiding season went well and is not quite finished.

Besides our standard trips into Katmai National Park, Bill and I spent a lot of time paddling Prince William Sound out of Valdez on our own in May and June. We also rafted the Copper River with friends in June. After another trip on the Savonovski Loop in Katmai National Park, we are off to Wood Tikchik State Park where we will be kayaking about 120 miles from Lake Kulik through 5 lakes connected by 4 rivers to Dillingham. This is an amazing place in the Bristol Bay area which we want to check out firsthand.
Then we are off to Florida for a 300 mile kayak trip on the Suwannee River and the Big Bend Saltwater paddling trail in the Golf of Mexico, trip report will follow on my other blog.
Here are some of our images on Google Picasa from this summer and other adventures.
Alaska Adventures and Guided Trips Alaska

Kathi & Bill Merchant