Katmai: Frills, spills and airline thrills

After Lake Clark we met up with Fran and Lindsy, who we had hiked with in Glacier National Park several weeks earlier. Lindsy is moving to Kotzebue, Alaska, to be a physical therapist. Kotz, as it is affectionately known, is a tiny little town above the Arctic Circle (more to come on this much later in the trip). Fran is in town to see her brother who just finished a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course in Alaska. We didn’t have too much time to hang out—we got back from Lake Clark and met at a state park campground just south of Anchorage Alaska. Trevor and I were in the middle of tearing apart the innards of the car to prepare for our trip to Katmai.

As for the frills—we were planning out our food for the trip. Any hiking trip we undertake includes tuna, mac, and Rotel for at least one dinner. On this trip, we were adding another recipe to our repertoire: chili, ramen and spam. We decided to make our oatmeal, which involves opening dozens of bags and containers while combining them all into one Ziploc per day.  We decided to up our game this time and include pre-sliced vegetables.

While in Lake Clark, I nearly diced my fingers in addition to the carrots when I decided to use a piece of driftwood as a cutting board. To avoid this happening again, we did all of the cutting and spicing in advance. We filled two Ziploc bags with diced carrots and onions. In an effort to save time and space, we added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil as well as basil and oregano to spice things up while we were out in the wilderness. We packed the vegetables and were good to go.

The morning came and we did a final pack out of our bags and hurried towards Anchorage to catch our flight. We were running just a couple of minutes late, because as we were driving to the airport I realized that we weren’t flying out of a small carrier like Lake Clark Air. We were headed to the main airport to use PenAir. Would they let us fly with our fuel bottle? I called their customer service line. We could obtain a permit, but we had to pick it up off-site, have it filled out and signed when we came to the airport. We didn’t have enough time to do all that. Shit. We had all of our food, and while we would have our stove, we would have no fuel. Shit. We parked the car and crossed our fingers that magic would happen.

Magic happened. The neatly packed Ziploc bags of vegetables, oil and spices exploded in the top part of my back. There was oil and spice mix everywhere! Moments before we are about to fly into a bear-infested land, my backpack is laced with the smell of food. Wonderful!

We couldn’t take our fuel. We had to leave it, but at least could pick it up on our return. With that, we flew to King Salmon, Alaska, where we would catch our plane to Brooks Camp. I ate my Egg McMuffin in silence. Would a bear eat me because I smelled like oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder? Would it even matter, as we would most likely be eating raw ramen? At least you don’t have to cook spam. Great.