Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 9-12: Adak

"You wanna go to Adak?"

"Sure, where the hell is that?"

Adak is an island in the Aleutians about 1200 miles SW of Anchorage out in the Bering Sea. The Aleutian Islands  are small and dramatic; some are heavily glaciated.  Adak was the site of a Navy base that closed in the 1990's.  At its peak there were 6,000 seamen there.  As you all know the Navy is nothing  if not generous.  They are like Santa.  Karl, for you we have an incessant dry cough. Adak, you've been very good this year.  You get this massive military infrastructure, six 3,000,000 gallon tanks, 1,500 abandoned 4-plexes and a rec center.  Have a few cold war spy buildings for good measure.  You're welcome.
Now about 100 folk occupy the rapidly decaying town.  

Back in January, the local fuel man overfilled one of those 3,000,000 gallon tanks.  Fuel filled a creek and worked its way to the ocean.  This attracted the type of attention Adakianistas like to avoid.  This is where Detection Milton (myself in the 3rd person) comes in.  My boss wanted to know what happened and put me and JH on the case.  To prepare, I used all of the resources at my disposal: google earth and wikipedia.  Damn, there are 2 volcanoes over town. Shit, that berg has a maritime climate.  They get their water from Lake Bonnie Rose.  Armed with all the knowledge necessary, the Rad International Investigation Unit boarded a 10% full 737, slammed a complementary Canada Dry Ginger Ale, read the airline's magazine, napped a bit, and touched down in glamorous Adak.  It was time to crack the case. What I found was shocking.  

This island would be a multi-sport mecca if not for its extremely remote location and the Notorious B.A.D. weather.  I was fortunate enough to catch 2 out of 3 days of nice weather.  The one day of  rough weather stepped it up a few notches: the hurricane force Bering Sea gales didn't even have the courtesy to simmer during the 5.4 earthquake.  But, man, nothing beats a beautiful day in the Aleutians: completely mind blowing.  This island has epic mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, hiking, halibut/salmon fishing, and there was even a decent crag in the center of town.  Moffet rises 3,800' above town and was still sporting skiable couloirs.  The dirt roads that snake all over the island are perfect for some high speed mountain biking.  There has to be  at least 17 main kayak trails.  All of this on an island the size of Nantucket.  The next closest island is Great Sitkin which sits about 2 miles from the North Shore.  G.S. is half the size of Nantucket and has a 5,710' glaciated volcano.  Take that!

But reality can be a son-of-a-bitch: 311 days of rain, $1200 flight from Anchorage, $37 18-packs of MGD. Despite these obstacles,  I can't help but think what could be accomplished if you nailed this rock with about 7 days of blue-bird.  

-Milton Arbogast

1,200' Hill on a Bering Sea Beach

Even Lakes

Mount "Barb" Moffet

The Great Sitkin Looms

Sweeper Cover