|View of Mt. Griggs from the Baked Mountain Huts|
When I first started planning this trip last year, I thought we would do the typical backpacking trip into/around the valley and back to Brooks Camp, but at some point last winter while I was looking at a map, I got the harebrained idea to hike over Katmai Pass to Katmai Bay on the Pacific Coast. Katmai Pass is one of the lower passes of the Aleutian Range. It was a well-traveled trade route for Alaska Native peoples for thousands of years, but the trail itself was buried by ash and pumice during the eruption in 1912.
As our trip got closer I started to wonder what I had gotten us into and if our friends would ever want to go on a trip with me again if it turned out badly. However, we are all experienced backcountry travelers, were well-prepared, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather, bugs, and bears. It was warm, and we only had brief periods of rain and wind (and a tiny bit of hail). It did snow on us when were were at/near the Katmai Caldera, but you can't expect any less in the mountains in Alaska, even in summer.
The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and even Katmai Pass and Katmai Bay are landscapes like no other. I've read and read about the 1912 eruption, looked at hundreds of photographs in books and on the internet over the years, and studied the aerial imagery before our trip, but nothing prepared me for the massive amount of pumice that blanketed the landscape on both sides of the pass. It was truly impressive.
Here are just a few photos of our journey.
|Novarupta - source of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century|
|Ryan on the rim of the Katmai Caldera|
|Keller's plane (Deckload Aviation) picking us up at Katmai Bay|