Ptarmigan Tracks

Online Version 2013

Vol. XXXVIII, Winter 2013

Greetings from Denali!

This newsletter comes to you from our frosty home here on the eastern boundary of Denali National Park. Winter has arrived. The snow is knee-deep and temperatures hover around O°F. Cross-country skiing and stellar night skies are not the only antidotes to summer; we also enjoy the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the past season. 2013 in Denali was replete with weather extremes, wildfires and impressive climbing endeavors on Mt. McKinley. From our Camp Denali family we bid farewell to founder, Ginny Hill Wood, who penned the first edition of this newsletter, the “Tundra Telegram,” and to “Kantishna Lou,” Louise Gallop, owner of a gold claim on Friday Creek and former cook from the early years of Camp Denali.

After you read this newsletter, we invite you to share it with your family and friends as you gather around tables and hearths this holiday season.

Warmly,

Simon and Jenna Hamm

 

Ginny's Legacy

On March 8, 2013, Camp Denali founder, Ginny Wood, passed away peacefully at her home in the hills above Fairbanks, Alaska. An outdoorswoman from childhood, horse-packing and skiing turned into flying in 1942 when she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilot training program. Lucky for Alaska, Ginny literally landed in Fairbanks on New Year’s Day 1947, and never really left.

Pilot, entrepreneur, wilderness guide, community builder and conservationist, Ginny’s legacy will be about sustainability and her desire to live lightly on the land. The fact that Camp Denali is not a 300-room hotel is testament to her vision. 

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2013 Project Roundup, aka Job Security for our Staff!

The recap of this year’s achieve­ments reads a lot like a serial novel. Since we prefer to tackle big projects in the shoulder seasons, our general strategy is to launch into a project in the fall, accomplishing any digging before the ground freezes, and stag­ing materials onsite for the following spring. If all goes according to plan, we fly back in early May and pick up where we left off, as the clock steadily ticks down toward opening day.

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From the Special Sightings Notebook

5/11 The coldest April in 88 years combined with May snowfall kept ice on Nugget Pond until this date, when water flooded the ice overnight

5/22 First frogs heard croaking at Nugget Pond, two weeks later than usual

6/19 Three year old Silas spots a “black bird”. Confirmed to be a Red-winged Blackbird, accidental in Denali

6/20 Maggie Whitaker, daughter of guide, Maria, and friends set a record for the longest amount of time spend in Nug­get Pond: 50 minutes!

7/26 Peregrine Falcon nest with fledglings spotted near Wonder Lake

8/20 A little rain allows Lake Creek to once again flow with water after being dry for about a week

9/4 Sandhill Cranes seen and heard flying high above the lodges

(Bull Moose in Nugget Pond. Painting by C. Frolking)

A Spring and Summer of Extremes

The 2013 season began with a long, drawn-out winter, was followed by a heat wave, and ended with a landslide! April and May were among the coldest on record. Snow continued to accumulate and temperatures dropped to almost -30° F in early April. Our opening crew members were skiing and sledding in their free time through the third week of May. Yet for all the time spent digging pathways between cabins, summer ushered itself in right in time. June and July were two of the warmest on record, and we found ourselves musing about air conditioning! Soon enough, the thunderstorms started wildfires.

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2014 Special Emphasis Series

Katey Walter Anthony is an aquatic ecologist and assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who discovered methane bubbling hotspots in arctic lakes. Her scientific research has led to breakthroughs in understanding the role permafrost thaw plays in methane release.  By studying the effects of permafrost thaw-lake methane on climate change during the past 10,000 years and the present-day, Dr. Anthony can help understand the potential impacts of this process on scenarios of future climate warming.  Field science is particularly important in her research. Dr. Anthony spends large portions of the year, especially during winter months, collecting information about methane and permafrost at remote locations in Alaska and Siberia. 

Click here to read more about Camp Denali and North Face Lodge's 2014 Special Emphasis Series 

Denali News

Diversity in the Outdoors

In June Camp Denali served as a “base camp” for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s (NOLS’) Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors. The historic expedition, which occurred on the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Denali, aimed to be the first expedition of African Americans to summit the peak. The goal of the expedition was to inspire young people of color to get outside, get active, and fall in love with our wild places. The team is now on the road speaking to audiences across the nation.

Good News for the Arctic

Teshekpuk Lake, located on Alaska’s North Slope, teems with birds during the nesting season and is one of the most ecologically important wetlands in the entire Arctic. Part of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, this sensitive area provides habitat for tens of thousands of molting geese, threatened species such as the Spectacled Eider, millions of nesting shorebirds and waterfowl, and the 60,000-head Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd. On February 21, 2013 there was great news: the Bureau of Land Management announced that the first-ever comprehensive plan to manage the Reserve would close 11 million acres to oil and gas development, including 3.1 million acres surrounding Teshekpuk Lake, for the duration of the plan. This includes the globally-significant Teshekpuk Lake Important Bird Area. Although not permanent protection, the plan provides a responsible balance between conservation on about half of the nearly 23-million acre Reserve and access and development for the vast majority of the area’s oil.

Louise Gallop Passes Away

There are few colder sports than panning for gold. This did not deter Louise Gallop, former “Camp cook” and owner of a gold claim on Friday Creek in Kantishna. Many former guests and staff from the late 70s and 80s will recall Louise, clad in hip waders and rubber dish gloves, coaching curious visitors in the fine art of panning.

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Looking Back...

On June 7, 1913, four members of the Hudson Stuck- Harry Karstens expedition became the first mountain climbers to reach the south summit of Denali. Stuck, then the Episcopal Archdeacon of the Yukon, organized the climb to promote the 20th anniversary of the church in Alaska. 21 year-old Walter Harper, of local Athabascan descent, was the first member of the party to set foot on the summit.

The 1913 party was beset by poor weather, debris left by a massive ice avalanche the previous year, and even a fire at one of their camps which destroyed valuable supplies. Nevertheless they accomplished their climb in seven and a half weeks, roughly twice the modern timeframe. 

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Camp Denali & North Face Lodge Staff

ALEX AMBROS ’06-’08, ’11-’13 Hartland, VT

THEO AMBROS ’90-'93, ’13 Hartland, VT

BOB AUSTIN ’10-’13 Northampton, MA

LAURA BEEBE ’12-’13 Craftsbury Common, VT

MARIA BERGER & MAGGIE WHITAKER ’97-’13 Fairbanks, AK

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The Newsletter of
Camp Denali,
North Face Lodge,
& Parkside Guest House

Vol. XXXVIII
November 2013

Edited by Jan Tomsen


Illustrations by William D. Berry 

P.O. Box 67
Denali National Park, AK 99755
(907) 683-2290

info@campdenali.com
www.campdenali.com
www.parksideanchorage.com

The enthusiasm of our staff is what makes our guest experience so memorable! 

General staff positions are available for the 2014 season, as well as the following professional seasonal positions: Dinner Cooks, Skilled Maintenance Workers, and Naturalist Guides.

Registered Nurses are encouraged to apply for any of our positions.

If you know of someone who would be a good fit for our organization, encourage him or her to view the employment pages of our website.

If What They Say Is True...

that life

begins at forty

I was premature

My second life -

not second childhood -

no- a whole, real life

began at thirty-eight

when I came here -

here to Alaska -

alien milieu

of wilderness,

strange life-styles,

different ways.

Turned forty-five,

I formalized my adaptation

in a rite-of-passage -

acquisition of

some twenty acres,

strewn with gold.

My summers there,

apprenticeship and mastery,

in part were spent

upon my knees

with chisel, dandelion pick,

trowel and spoons,

in part calf-deep

in icy water,

waders, rubber gloves.

My eyes

turned eagle-sharp to spot

one pin-point fleck

of treasure

to increase my hoard

or, more often, to assist

slow-learner tourists

to a “real” experience...

no salted dirt,

no tall, convenient trough

to stand at comfortably;

success not guaranteed,

but always found.

My forties, fifties, sixties,

early seventies

that second life flowed on.

Three decades plus

wrought changes

in the creek,

the tourists,

me...

All things must end,

(another saying, that),

and so -

I’m on my third life now,

excepting memories.

© Louise Gallop

Used by permission of

Louise Gallop Estate

Cabins just became available at Camp Denali for a three night stay September 5-8, 2014.

Book now to join us for the season of fall colors!