On a festive Thursday evening friends and guests came together to listen to Jake Schlapfer perform at our hostel. Jake is well known in Alaska as a paragliding instructor who offers both lessons and tandems in the local mountains. He has spent a good part of his life in Alaska and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the sky and his music. Take a look at our video of Jake playing at our hostel. If you want to learn more about paragliding in Alaska take a look at his website at http://www.midnightsunparagliding.com
A big thank you to J Wagner for performing at our hostel. We enjoyed getting to know J personally and hearing his stories. He currently lives in Austin TX and comes to Alaska every summer to share his music. He was raised in the deserts of New Mexico and was a one time park ranger for Joshua Tree National Park. His music often draws from this desert landscape and many of his songs “If I Go, I’m Goin” have been covered by other artists like country artist Bart Crow and appeared on the TV show, Californication and Teen Wolf. He co-writes often with his long-time friends Gregory Alan Isakov and Ron Scott. Their collaborative work lead to their song “Suitcase Full of Sparks” being featured on NBC’s show, The Blacklist.
To listen to his music visit his website at https://www.jwagnermusic.com
Take a look at a video below of him performing one of his songs at our hostel.
Our good friend Dmitri performed at our hostel this summer. He was accompanied by violinist Gwendellin Bradshaw. They met a few weeks prior and recognized the harmony of their music while playing together. Take a look at a video below of their performance. Thank you Dmitri and Gwendellin !!!
Jonathan Bower, a longtime Alaskan musician and songwriter, teaches creative writing at the University of Alaska. Many of his songs are beautifully told stories of Alaska. His recently released album “Hope, Alaska” was embraced with raving reviews. Many thanks to Jonathan Bower for performing at our hostel.
To hear Jonathan Bowers music go to his website at www.jonathanjbower.com
Take a look below at Jonathan playing one of his featured songs “Nina Simone” in our newly built tipi.
Base Camp sends much love and appreciation to Raph “Odell” Odell Shapiro for performing live at our hostel. A singer and songwriter from the east end of Long Island, NY, Raph now wanders the countryside playing his guitar with his sweet dog Joni. He’s a lifelong performer with a history of Shakespeare and rhythm tap dancing in his past. We had the honor of having Raph play a set for our hostel guests, often including them in the singing, telling stories on how he writes and the craft of his songwriting. Some of his songs were inspired by close friends and his journeys throughout Alaska. To listen to Raph’s Americana rhythms both solo and with his trio band, Odell Fox, visit: https://odellmusic.bandcamp.com/ or find him on Spotify!
Here’s a video of Raph performing live at our hostel
Alaskan born-and-raised musician and songwriter Emma Hill and her co-writer/musician Bryan Daste performed at our hostel this past Wednesday. It was a beautiful golden summer evening shared amongst hostel guests and friends. Creating a welcoming positive community is at the heart of our mission and music is the perfect ingredient to bring people together.
Emma was raised in the tiny village of Sleetmute in west-central Alaska and now lives in Anchorage. Many of her songs draw upon her life experiences and passion for the natural beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. In our effort to share the talent of local musicians we will continue hosting performances by local artists throughout the summer. Here is a video of Emma and Bryan performing their new release “Denali” for us. You can hear more of Emmas albums and music on her website at http://www.emmahillmusic.com
For adventurous spirits, the yearning to explore lies deep within. When Alaska crosses their path, many heed it’s call. Two and a half years ago Andrew arrived in Alaska and his passion for the outdoors is mirrored through the lens of his camera. Below is a video of some of his recent work. You can also see Andrew’s photographs of Alaska at http://www.andrewholmanphoto.com
Considered one of the last frontiers of raw and rugged wilderness, the Brooks Range draws outdoor enthusiasts from around the world looking to immerse themselves in nature and connect to a land untouched. Located in the northernmost portion of Alaska, these mountains extend into Canada and are estimated to be up to 126 million years old. To help preserve this remote wilderness, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1960 and is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States.
In the summer of 2016 five of us made plans to explore the Brooks Range over 18 days. Our goal was to packraft the Kongakut river (a class 2-3 river) and bring paragliders to explore flying opportunities. This trip was considered a proof of concept idea as we had never attempted packrafting and paragliding simultaneously for 18 days. Thorough planning and logistics were required as help would potentially not be available for days if something went wrong.
As we began our trip a small “bush” plane flew us to the headwaters of the Kongakut river. These famous Alaskan beaver bush planes are capable of landing on difficult terrain. Our pilot chose a gravel bar along the river as our drop off point. Over the next few weeks we traversed over 40 miles towards the Beaufort sea in the Arctic.
As a precaution we brought an electric fence, bear spray, and bear resistant food bags to protect from curious or aggressive bears. Grizzly and Polar bears are known to roam the northern edges of the Brooks range. With melting sea ice there are reports of polar bears breeding with grizzly bears in an effort to survive a changing climate.
Working our way down the Kongakut river we stopped along several mountains to hike its ridgelines. Joe, Steve, and I paraglided from the top, while Sven and Kim explored the rest of the mountain by foot. An exhilarating feeling overcomes you while flying through the air; an intensity beaming with joy in witnessing such a remote and majestic part of the world.
Throughout our time hiking, packrafting, and paragliding we encountered bears, dall sheep, and wolves. We fished for Arctic Grayling to supplement meals, bathed in tributaries, and photographed beautiful flowers and migrating birds. The indigenous people of this area, the Gwich’in, learned to live in harmony with this sacred land. Their relationship to this landscape has been vital and continue to teach us lessons.
After arriving to the Brooks Range Howard Zahniser once noted “Without the gadgets, the inventions, the contrivances whereby men have seemed to establish among themselves an independence of nature, without these distractions, to know the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence and interdependence, indebtedness and responsibility.”
We are filled with appreciation for the opportunity to live in a land with so much beauty . Take a look at some of our pictures and a video of Joe Mclaughlin flying off one of the ridges.
As we approach the end of 2016, we reflect on our year. As a business focused on creating a positive community atmosphere and sharing the beauty of nature, we feel drawn to invest in our communities and support the continued conservation of nature. Travelers come to Alaska to experience it’s majestic and breathtaking scenery. Nature and wildlife inspire, and teach the importance of protecting such sacred land for future generations. Every year a portion of our revenue is donated to worthy causes that invest in our communities and promote conservation of Alaska’s backcountry. We are excited to share with you the programs supported this year by Base Camp Anchorage.
Alaska Trails mission is to support world-renowned sustainable trails through advocacy, education and technical assistance.
Their new program, Alaska Trail Volunteers brings volunteers to the park to address maintenance backlog on trails. This has saved the state money and trained citizens to be stewards of their public lands and trails. They are also collaborating with other organizations on mountain bike trails in the state.
We are excited to support Alaska Trails as they strive to make the wonders of Alaska accessible for all people without compromising Alaska’s beauty, natural history, cultural integrity or landownership interests.
To learn more about Alaska Trails visit them at http://www.alaska-trails.org/
Great Land Trust
Great Land Trust helps conserve valuable lands like wetlands and waterways, as well as salmon spawning streams. Since 1995, GLT has conserved over 40 miles of wild salmon streams, 9,000 acres of land, 5,000 acres of wetlands, six historic homesteads, and an 80-acre farm in Trapper Creek home to hundreds of migratory cranes. GLT also works in conjunction with private landowners to ensure the conservation of lands and waterways. Their goal is to also enhance public access to the outdoors including parks, access points to the Chugach State Park, and trail building projects. You can learn more about Great Land Trust at http://greatlandtrust.org/
Bean’s Cafe provides shelter, meals, and assistance for those in need. When people are under difficult times, Beans Cafe has been a blessing to many. They also recognizing that too many children were going hungry in the city of Anchorage. As a result, they created the Children’s Lunchbox to help feed children in need throughout the city. Beans Cafe was founded by Lynn Ballew, a pro- fessor and humanitarian. She and her daughter, nicknamed ‘Bean’, moved to Alaska in 1978 and immediately began to seek the help of the community to start her shelter, which she named Bean’s Cafe. To learn more, visit them at https://www.beanscafe.org/
We strongly believe in the positive impact traveling has on our youth. Every year Carpe Diem Education provides transformative experiential education to students throughout the United States. Students take a semester to travel in a region of the world to learn about themselves and the world around them.
First generation college students often do not have the resources to take advantage of this opportunity. In 2009, Carpe Mundi was established to provide scholarships and mentorship for first generation college students in the Portland area. To date 100% of Carpe Mundi students have completed or are working towards college degrees. To learn more about Carpe Mundi, visit them at https://www.carpemundi.org/
Alaska is a birders paradise. Hundreds of bird species migrate to Alaska every year to raise their young in the summer and feast on the abundant and rich diversity of plants and animals. Some of these birds include owls, cranes, shorebirds, songbirds, and swans. Some birds come as far as the other side of the world in Antarctica and return when the Alaska summer ends.
When hiking through the backcountry, one can be unaware of the beautiful diversity of birds in their surroundings. Certain characteristics such as the color and shape of their head, beak, wings, chest, and feet along with a bird’s song are like fingerprints that aid in identification. Bird lovers often use these characteristics to quickly identify them in the field.
One such birder is Ben Lagasse who came to Alaska for his third summer to study shorebirds as part of a long-term research project run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Summer of 2016 included surveys of breeding shorebirds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, documenting breeding shorebird ecology in Barrow, and some post-work backpacking around the Atigun Pass and Galbraith Lake areas in the Brooks Range.
It was a pleasure to have hosted Ben at Base Camp Anchorage hostel while he prepared for the summers research outings. Many of his mornings were often spent sipping a cup of coffee while preparing light-level geolocator tags. These tags were then used to document the migration ecology and winter distribution of Dunlin (see above picture) throughout the circumpolar arctic.
We send a big appreciation to Ben and all the other passionate bird lovers out there who remind us of the rich diversity of birds around us and the important role they play in our environment. Here are a few birding moments Ben captured from this summer. For any ornithologists, birdwatchers, and nature lovers, an Alaskan summer has no shortage of opportunities for wildlife viewing as millions of birds flock north as part of their ancient annual migrations. See you next summer Ben!