The Brooks Range in Alaska is the Northernmost extension of the Rocky Mountains spanning 700 miles. It’s remote location draws the more adventurous of backcountry travelers to explore it’s rivers and mountains. In July of 2017 Iwan Eicher and Christian Schlappi from Switzerland stayed a few days at Base Camp Anchorage hostel to prepare for their journey. Over two weeks they hiked through mountains and packrafted through multiple rivers all the way out to the Arctic sea. To document their trip they brought one of their drones along. Take a look at some of their captivating footage.
Iwan has come to Alaska several times to explore the backcountry. We look forward to his next visit.
Throughout the summer, various artists from in and out of state performed at our hostel. Music has a beautiful way of bringing people together and fostering positive social exchange. As part of our last music concert of the season we were heartwarmed to have Dan Bigley play for us.
Dan Bigley describes his style of music as somewhere between “acoustic cosmic roots and Americana jam”. He weaves his personal journey and lived experience throughout his songs. As a bear attack survivor, Dan was left blind after being mauled by a grizzly bear in the summer of 2003. His art tells the story of courage, wisdom, and love.
To learn more about Dan’s inspiring journey visit his website at http://www.danbigley.com His book “Beyond the Bear” can be purchased here. Thank you Dan for sharing your music and your story. Below is a video of Dan performing one of his songs at our hostel.
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.
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.