Mission: Alaska Pack Raft Marathon

Mission: Bike to the head waters of the “Marathon River” and Pack raft back to the vehicle.

Just got back from an epic Alaskan mountain biking pack rafting adventure in the Copper River Basin. The bike ride in was a full marathon in distance which is 26 miles. That meant fellow adventurer Brigder, my dogs Pickle, Crixus, and I had a beautiful 26+ mile class 3 river to pack raft to get back to our vehicle. This adventure was part hunting, part training/exercise, part recon, and a whole lot of fun. The pack rafting part of the adventure was definitely the highlight, and if you ask Bridger if he got wet he will be sure to tell you that we both took a few “tall drinks”. The dogs were awesome companions on the trip, and handled the rafting part of the adventure like total bosses. We were looking for potential brown and or black bear to harvest along the way, however that was wishful thinking. We ended up seeing a very large bull moose that just began growing his antlers, we also saw a sow grizzly bear with a lone cub. We didn’t find any animals to take down the river with us, other than Pickle and Crixus. It is always so humbling to be in nature and experience everything mother earth has to offer. One step in nature and a close encounter with a grizzly bear really tells humans exactly where they sit on that food chain. More pictures and videos to come shortly, make sure to tune back in to Missionak for weekly updates. Click the subscribe button on MissionAK’s home page to receive free email updates for any new blog post updates. If you haven’t already liked MissionAK on Facebook and twitter check us out!

Can’t wait for the next Mission…What’s yours?

Mission Complete

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Brookes Range – Gates of the Arctic – “The Arrigetch”

Brookes Mountain Range – Gates of the Arctic – “The Arrigetch” – Bob Marshall

Need I say more? The names mentioned above are legendary, well-respected, and admired in the Alpinist world of exploration. The Gates of the Arctic are truly wild; nestled among some of the gnarliest mountains Alaska has to offer. To begin above the Arctic Circle and end in South West Alaska with nothing but the gear on your back is a daunting task. The challenge set forth by Nat Geo was to embark on this expedition in an “old-school” style, i.e. no fancy technology. This expedition was a throwback to the early days of Alaskan exploration; a journey that traces the pages of history and an ode to the past explorers who came to Alaska and explored the last frontier with minimal gear and technology.

Bob Marshall was an Alaskan explorer who came to the state after exploring a large portion of lower North America. Bob said it best, “I like it among these rugged mountains better than anywhere else in the world.” I relate to the past explorers who came to this state in search of the majestic beasts that roam this fabled land. Traditional archery hunters such as Doctor Arthur Young and Fred Bear will forever be my heroes. Their accomplishments inspired me to follow their footsteps and live and adventurous lifestyle. For the first leg of the expedition the “Elite 8,” which consisted of survivalists, outdoorsmen, climbers, skiers, dog mushers, and mountaineers, began the journey in the Brookes Range. The Nat Geo expedition was the third time I have made my way into the Brookes Range. All three experiences within this epic mountain range were very different, but equally unforgettable.

My first trip to the Brookes Range was several years ago. My brother August and I flew out to hunt dall sheep. The time spent in the north-eastern part of the Brookes was so incredible and also humbling. I cherish the moments my brother and I spent together in field chasing white ghosts with golden horns. We had a close call with a gnarly feature on one particular mountain top. The terrain taught us valuable lessons in survival…always bring rope with you…at some point you will need it. We ended up rappelling off 50-100 foot cliff faces until we ran out of rope. We were faced with a real moment of survival, we had to adapt or die. We ended up climbing down the last 1000 feet in reverse 4-wheel drive with automatic death to the right and instant death to the left. You can read all the survival guides in the world but unless you go outside and experience them first hand, it’s all for nothing.

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The wilderness puts an individual’s ability to cope with their surroundings to the test. It was during hunting adventures like these that my brother and I learned to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Our goal always being to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Together we learned new ways to solve simple problems. These experiences inspired my survival mantra; “team work makes the dream work.” I was much more prepared for my second and third trip to the Brookes Range.

On my second trip to the Brookes Range, my brother, John Dykes (college rugby buddy), and I set out on a quest called the “Mission Expedition”. This expedition took us from the Acrtic sea above the Brookes Range all the way to the Kenai Peninsula, and several locations in the interior. The mission of this expedition was an attempt to fill the freezer with beautiful, free ranging, no hormonal, wild game meat. Being an Alaskan resident we have the unique opportunity to hunt for the big five game animals that call Alaska home. Hunting these animals every year is a part of our Alaskan culture, not to mention the incredible taste and gratification recieved by filling your freezer on your own terms. This second trip would prove invaluable as I learned the terrain, topography, and easiest methods of travel in the Brookes Range the key being the waterways.

My past experiences in the Brookes Range taught me many valuable lessons to take with on the Ultimate Survival Alaska Expedition with National Geographic. I learned mainly that waterways are your friend, and to follow this path of least resistance. Using rafts to minimize the distance of our caribou pack out on a previous expedition, I understood the advantage of bringing along a pack raft. Bringing along a raft would at least provide us the ability to forge and cross rivers, if not to float the entire river to the landing zone. Being as this was a team mission, having a solo packraft would only let me float to the LZ and leave my partners behind. Understanding their need for river crossings help, I stuck with the mantra of “team work being dreamwork” and stayed with the group to help them forge rivers. That being said, I look forward to future adventures with my team members and would do this leg of the expedition all over again.

Check out the gear list below, with these essential items and a basic knowledge of how to use them an individual would be ready to survive just about anything.

Survival Guide Gear List:

-Magnesium Fire Starter

-Knife -full tang

- Fishing kit: Line with various hooks and spinners.

-Tarp 8×10

-Pack Raft

-Back pack or external pack frame

-Water Bottle or container

-Longbow, rifle, pistol, self defense weapon

-Sleeping bag -0 rating

-Bivy Sack

-Plenty of socks

-Food (coffee, oatmeal, rice, beans, whiskey, ramen noodles) what ever you can carry. If you can pack as much calorie dense food as possible.

Facts Courtesy of Wikipedia: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a U.S. National Park in Alaska. It is the northernmost national park in the U.S. (the entirety of the park lies north of the Arctic Circle) and the second largest at 13,238 miles (34,287 km²), about the same size as Switzerland. The park consists primarily of portions of the Brooks Range of mountains. It was first protected as a U.S. National Monument on December 1, 1978, before becoming a national park and preserve two years later in 1980 upon passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. A large part of the park is protected in the Gates of the Arctic Wilderness which covers 7,167,192 acres (2,900,460 ha).[3] The wilderness area adjoins the Noatak Wilderness Area and together they form the largest contiguous wilderness in the United States.

History Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Nomadic peoples have inhabited the Brooks Range for as many as 12,500 years, living mainly on caribou and other wildlife. The Mesa site at Iteriak Creek has yielded evidence of occupation between 11,500 and 10,300 years before the present. Later sites from around 6,000 years before present have yielded projectile points, stone knives and net sinkers. The Arctic small tool tradition (ASTt) of about 4,500 BP has also been documented.A late phase of the ASTt from between 2500 and 950 BP, the Ipuitak phase, has been documented in the park at the Bateman Site at Itkillik Lake.[10]

The earliest Inupiat people appeared about 1200 AD at the coast and spread to the Brooks Range, becoming the Nunamuit.[10] The Nunamiut people existed essentially unchanged until World War II brought outsiders into Alaska, which was at the time a strategic outpost of the United States. Some of the nomads began to settle in small communities in the mountains, particularly at Anaktuvuk Pass.[11] TheGwich’in people, a Northern Athabaskan group also lived in the area in the last 1000 years, moving south of the park in historic times.[10]

The Alaskan interior was not explored until the late 19th century, shortly before discovery of gold in the Klondike brought prospectors to Alaska. Some encampments of explorers and survey parties have been identified in the park. A few small mining operations were established in the early 20th century, never amounting to much.[10]

The park’s name dates to 1929, when wilderness activist Bob Marshall, exploring the North Fork of the Koyukuk River, encountered a pair of mountains (Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain), one on each side of the river. He christened this portal the “Gates of the Arctic.” Marshall spent time in Wiseman during the early 1930s, publishing an account of the place in his 1933 book Arctic Village. In the 1940s writer and researcher Olaus Murie proposed that Alaskan lands be preserved.[12]

Proposals for a national park in the Brooks Range first emerged in the 1960s, and in 1968 a National Park Service survey team recommended the establishment of a 4,100,000-are (41,000 ha) park in the area.[11] That year, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall recommended to President Lyndon B. Johnson that Johnson use the Antiquities Act to proclaim a national monument in the Brooks Range and other Alaskan locations, but Johnson declined. By the 1970s the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) prompted serious examination of the disposition of lands held by the federal government. A series of bills were proposed to deal with the settlements required by ANCSA, but the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) was held up in Congress in the late 1970s. President Jimmy Carter used the Antiquities Act to proclaim the proposed parklands under ANILCA as national monuments, proclaiming Gates of the Arctic National Monument on December 1, 1978. In 1980 Congress passed ANILCA, establishing the monument lands as Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on December 2, 1980.[12]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_of_the_Arctic_National_Park_and_Preserve

Find the Gates of the Arctic on facebook @

https://www.facebook.com/GatesOfTheArcticNPS

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Vote for your fan favorite on Nat Geo’s Ultimate Survival Alaska

Vote for your Fan Favorite on Nat Geo's Ultimate Survival Alaska

You know who Mission Alaska is going to vote for!
Check out the interactive map on National Geographic’s webpage for Ultimate Survival Alaska. Scroll to the bottom and make your vote heard for the number one fan favorite!

The premier is May 12th at 10pm EST, don’t forget to tell your mom happy mothers day!

You can find Mission Alaska as well as Austin Manelick on Facebook and Twitter @

@missionalaska

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mission-Alaska

or

https://www.facebook.com/david.austin

@austinmanelick

Here is the link to cast your vote.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/ultimate-survival-alaska/interactives/interactive-map/

Ultimate Survival Alaska found on Field and Stream

Found this interesting article featuring Ultimate Survival Alaska in Field and Stream magazine.  I have been a long time subscriber of the magazine and have always dreamed of making the pages of Field and Stream representing Alaska’s outdoorsmen.  Found this interesting article on one of my favorite websites www.fieldandstream.com, it talks about our need to find food for survival.   I will touch more on the expedition food menu later, for the moment, enjoy the article!

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/survival/survival-food/2013/05/ultimate-survival-alaska-explorers-sponsored-post

THANKS FIELD AND STREAM!

“Ultimate Survival Alaska” Explorers (Sponsored Post)

Uploaded on May 06, 2013
Austin in Field and Stream

Ultimate Survival Alaska Explorers hunt and gather for calories The food possibilities in wild Alaska are plentiful if you know how to work for your meal.

The guys on the National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska really do have to work for it—without fancy fishing poles or advanced gear. The extreme survivalists only have the tools in their packs and whatever they find in the wilderness.

“At some fundamental level, we’re not normal, well-adjusted, modern civilized human beings,” says Willi Prittie, one of the eight explorers. “We’re all throwbacks. Because modern life is not enough of a test for us.”

A 220-pound man needs approximately 2,400 calories every day just to perform basic functions like breathing and metabolizing food. Now imagine that same man is steering a handmade raft through Yukon River rapids and scaling mountain passes. His calorie intake must increase. With strenuous activity, a man needs 3,600 calories to maintain his weight and keep thriving.

The small sacks of beans and rice the explorers carry aren’t enough.

The 10-leg expedition in the brutal and dangerous Alaska terrain includes 200 miles down the Yukon River 50 miles in the Brooks Mountain Range at heights near 9,000 feet. This is no weekend hunting trip with the guys. This is finding the fuel to survive.

Alaska’s wild buffet includes:

Fish: Alaska is known for its salmon, as well as rainbow and steelhead trout, Northern pike, halibut and arctic grayling. On a particularly strenuous day, the Ultimate Survival explorers were overjoyed to land a half-pound of grayling with makeshift fishing poles. Another team constructs a dip net with a branch frame and discarded net.

Plants: Berries and edible plants are plentiful in Alaska. There are raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and lingonberries north in the tundra.

Game meat: It takes a lot of energy to hunt big game like caribou and bear. The explorers are more likely to hunt rabbit, squirrel, birds and foxes.

When the explorers are desperate for calories, it’s hard to envy their rough outdoor experience. It can even lead them to harvest berries in bear scat and devour frogs.

“It’s amazing what will get you excited when you’re hungry,” admits one contestant.

There are moments of mercy like when native Alaskans invite them into a smokehouse to taste delicious cured salmon. But that’s the side of Alaska the show highlights—the beauty and humanity amid the extreme wild. Delicious wild bounty is just within an adventurer’s reach.

For more information check out:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/survival/survival-food/2013/05/ultimate-survival-alaska-explorers-sponsored-post