Massive thank you and gratitude to everyone who has helped us reach our goal for flight and food expense four our Alaska Range Traverse. We cannot express to you enough how supported we feel and your good energy will undoubtedly come up with us on the mountain. We just found the right deal on some packrafts and are psyched to be using them as our tool to exit the range, following the rivers to the shores of Talkeetna! Spread the word about the expedition, we are excited to try to blow our goal out of the water!
This short film attempts to protray the wonder of the Grand Canyon's landscape through timelapse and river footage. It was filmed during a three month stint in and around the Grand Canyon region, including a packrafting trip through the whole river stretch. Narrative from Larry Stevens, from his Grand Canyon River Guidebook. Music is "Self Portrait" by Lenon. This video is also here to get folks curious about The Canyon for the full version of Grand Water in April 2014, a larger piece mainly about the Colorado River through Grand Canyon and the impacts and future of Glen Canyon Dam, with timelapses, music, and interviews. Stay tuned at killiansump.blogspot.com , if you are interested in getting involved, collaborate, or have any questions at all email: email@example.com
This summer, rather than heading back to guide in the Kenai Fjords National Park, I chose to do something different. As much as I love guiding in the beauty of the fjords and interacting with a wide variety of people from all over the world, I kept feeling drawn to work more with youth. I also was looking for a longer term program, so as to develop a true relationship with the people I am working with, thus creating a deeper and more lasting impact.
I got the opportunity to work as a camp counselor/wilderness educator for a summer camp program for Native Alaskan 8th graders called Ageya Wilderness Education, or AWE camp. And let me tell you, this camp is AWESOME. We have 32 kids per session, each coming from a unique place in Alaska, coalescing here in the Kachemak Bay area of Alaska (Homer) with us for almost a whole month, this being the first long experience outside their villages for many of them. The whole goal of the camp is to reinvigorate their heritage within them, and deepen their understanding of how to live life in respect for themselves, others, and the environment.
We engage the campers in a variety of hands-on learning experiences to gain hard skill in areas such as fire building, backcountry cooking, edible and medicinal plants, leadership, even boat building. That's right, here at Ageya we build traditional skin-on-frame kayaks (baidarkas) and huge open frame canoes (Umiaks) that can hold about a dozen paddlers. We put the boats that have been built over the years to the test by paddling out on the wild Pacific Ocean, exploring the seascape and learning to navigate, read the weather, etc. This provides ample teachable moments in not just marine biology but in how to get along well with each other and form a band of brothers and sisters.The sheer amount of wilderness skill and place-based nature knowledge they develop here, along with the friends they make and the inner lessons they learn is seriously incredible.
I've seen 32 kids go back tot heir villages changed young men and women. Apart from all that, its just great to go out camping and paddling with a goofy group of boys in the middle of coastal Alaska's wilderness.
The camp area is quite the spot. We are perched on the top of East Hill, looking out over Kachemak Bay and the Homer spit. Out to the West are the massive volcanoes that begin the Aleutian Chain, Mt. Redoubt and Iliamna, both rising straight from the ocean at heights just over 10,000 feet, silhouetted in the long lasting setting sun of Alaska's summer. All the kids stay in yurts, nice circular structures full of bunk beds. As staff, we each have our own wall tent, a mix of plywood, mesh, and canvas. Simple and perfect. You can hear the birds chattering, the pattering of rain on the canvas roof, and feel the breeze flow through the semi-permanent cabin. My deck overlooks the mountains across Kachemak Bay. We have a large greenhouse that is exploding with edible plants, vegetables and leafy greens straight from our soil at every meal. A large wind turbine generates much of our electricity, as of its installation last year. We are attempting to become more sustainable, and I am proud to be involved.
We just got a fresh new batch of kids in from all over Alaska and they are just getting to know each other, many adjusting to a different climate and undoubtedly going through a bit of a cultural shock. They are beginning their journey here with us, and I am excited to see where each one of them takes their experience at camp. My job is to be along with them every step of the way, setting the example and being a support system for them. Details include playing medicine man, kayak instructor, discussion facilitator, hike motivator, firewood collection nazi, music leader, stern voice man, goofy dude, etc. We are having fun. And getting paid? I like this job.
Here is a video about the camp put together by Kiliii Fish, last year's master boat builder. Check it out, it gives the place a lot more justice than what I can describe in words.
To check out more of Kiliii's work in video and photography, head here
This short film is KWEST Motion Picture's first release! This one was filmed during the course of just three days spent adventure/ski-mountaineering in southcentral Alaska, April 2013. Very excited to keep working on films, many ideas and trips in the works, attempting to answer the great 'why' question. The music was written and recorded by The Hill Dogs, a great band and set of longtime friends from Newberg, Oregon.
Good day everyone! This post is dedicated to my time spent as a guide at Alaska Wildland Adventure's Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge. Here's to all the good people with whom I have crossed paths through this venue, amazing! Hope you enjoy the writing (finally finished), and the fine photography from a few of the staff members over the years.
Here, I rest on a driftwood log, drinking some morning tea as waves lap on a salt and pepper sandy beach in a steady, rhythmic manner. My kayak rests high on the beach, after having transported me many miles across the seascape. Mountains rise steeply; the deep blue ice of a hanging glacier looming ominously in the heights above. The closeness of these peaks to the ocean provides a feeling of encapsulation, as if a natural fortress of rock and ice acts to insulate the nomad from the wildness of the open sea. A few gulls glide by on a gentle breeze, the smell of ocean is rich in the air. This is Quicksand Cove, a small, half-moon inlet nestled along the east side of Aialik Bay. Aialik is one of a series of inlets that compose the Kenai Fjords National Park: A venue of constant change; as retreating glaciers reveal new earth, and sparse vegetation communities transform into forests within decades. Cliffs drop to sandy beaches, rocky peninsulas jut out into breaking swells, and waterfalls pour clear and cold from the lush rainforest. The place is alive, geologically active and teeming with life.
For the past three summers, I have had the privilege of living in the Kenai Fjords, working as a kayak guide for a remote lodge. My purpose is to allow our guests to experience the wilderness from a sea kayak, facilitating an immersive experience of adventure and education, with someone whom they can trust. My experiences here have tied me to the grandeur of this landscape, and continue to inspire me to share with others.
The Kenai Fjords lie along south-central Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Each long, narrow body of ocean water extends many miles inland towards a major collection of ice called the Harding, one of the largest ice fields in North America. This source feeds many glaciers, rivers of ice that have been constantly at work carving out the fjords for almost twenty thousand years. As the climate steadily warms, the glaciers unveil their valleys, which fill with ocean water from the neighboring Pacific. Now, the headlands are commonly characterized by calm, glassy seawater and still-active tidewater glaciers, from which one can hear deep rumblings that resound off the rugged walls.
The marine ecosystem is rich in abundance. Harbor Seals and Sea Otters dot the still water’s surface, and rookeries of Sea Lions dwell on the bedrock shores, letting out brutal roars as crashing waves send foaming water into the air. Cetaceans like Dall’s Porpoises, Orcas, and Humpback Whales swim the outer coast, communicating in song, a musical language mysterious and ancient as time itself. On land, dense moss carpets the forest floor and drapes over the limbs of the Spruce and Hemlock trees, the whole forest scene vibrant and alive with many shades of green. A delicate, moist place often found dripping with rain water or shrouded in morning fog.
The first nation peoples, called the Unegkurmiut, have lived and thrived in the coastal environment of the present-day park for thousands of years, subsisting with the maritime ecosystem and travelling by kayak, or baidarka. Fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know this region by kayak, I support the practice of the indigenous culture through their method of travel and skill in the elements, breeding a knowledge and respect of nature. With each stroke the blade slips silently into water, and the craft glides through the reflective surface. Even when the ocean becomes chaotic, the kayak floats atop the chop, cresting each wave with buoyancy and strength. The kayaker sits low in the water, rising and falling with the smooth moods of the sea, paddling with grace and intention, using the ever-changing tide to one’s advantage. Exploration impassions endlessly.
Reflections on my time as a wilderness guide are now illuminating. Interpreting the land, connecting personally with the travelers, and simply having fun has been more rewarding than I could have imagined. The many months out here make me certain that the prospect of adventure, coupled with the beauty of the wilderness, allow people to open up and learn more about the world or themselves, setting a higher limit (or lack of limit) for what life can offer. The gold of this ‘job’ shines when I see someone’s face and attitude completely change after spending just a few days paddling and hiking, experiencing the wonders of the fjords for themselves or their family as a whole. Perhaps it has never been as important as it is presently; to build a population of earth protectors. There being many methods to accomplish this; simply find your role in the process. But here, is where the wild land, justly by itself, is enough to change the world; one person at a time.