Here are some pics I took over the weekend. This should give you an idea of what the trails look like up here. The undergrowth is already over 8 feet tall in some areas, and only getting bigger. You can see why I always emphasize the need to have a firearm at the ready if you hope to use it at all. There is almost zero visibility on the sides of the trail and at most ten to twenty yards down the trail.
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July 26, 2005, 03:51 PM
For those not in the know, those big ol' leaves on either side of the trail are Devil's Club, a spiny, itchy nasty clumping plant with reedy stalks that loves to fill all the sunny spots. Getting off the trail, to get out of Mr. Bruins way, isn't an option in many places.
July 26, 2005, 03:58 PM
if those pictures are what people are walking through,then i now understand why people are being killed by bears.first of all in that kind of terrain how could a person even get a pistol out of his holster in time for defense? if it were me,i'd find a new trail because my life isn't worth the risk.
July 26, 2005, 04:07 PM
Here's Devil's Club close up. Those thorns break off into your skin and have the composition of glass shards
Those trails look like open prairie compared to some of the ones I've hiked in AK :p
Three of us hiked over Crow Pass on a Memorial Day weekend. We crossed avalances (very carefully) and there was 7 feet of crusted snow on the top. I was cursing the damn shotgun we had brought, and had it just strapped to the outside of my backpack.
But going down the north side to the Eagle River, we passed though some dense thickets (alder, IIRC). Just to keep things interesting, there were dinner plate size bear tracks in the trail :uhoh: Since I was the only one with any firearms experience, my friends let me lead the way carrying the shotgun. Always being "safe", I stupidly thought that I could rack the slide in time if I needed to. If I did that hike again, I would have a shell in the chamber and the safety off - with my finger just outside the trigger guard. (actually, I think that is a legitimate civilian use for full-auto and a 40 round mag :D )
Then there is the country up along the Big Sue above Talkeetna, where the fireweed grows six or seven feet high. You have to push your way through it like some savannah, and the only way you can find the trail is by feeling for it with your feet.
And yeah, I got initiated by Devils Club within 48 hours of arriving in the state. It is definitely not the stuff to grab onto when you are going down a steep hill :(
July 26, 2005, 04:14 PM
Thanks for the warning. I'll stick to hiking and camping somewhere a little more open...
July 26, 2005, 04:15 PM
A few days ago, I happened into what I know now as Devil's Club. Those things were awful. I was pulling some of them out of my clothes and had splinters in my fingers for a week or so. I thought it was strange to be getting splinters like that from a plant. Thanks
July 26, 2005, 04:16 PM
After all the heat and humidity, looks like my backyard. :D
No bears though, wouldn't last long here.
Thanks for the pic of the Devil's Club. Being forewarned is forearmed. :uhoh:
July 26, 2005, 04:26 PM
The trick with devil's club is to let the spines that have gone all the way in fester rather than trying to dig them out. Your skin will build up an infection at the tip and after a day all you have to do is pop them out. That way they don't break. I had to dive full-speed into one of those bushes a few years ago while being chased by an angry bull moose along that same trail. I was finding spines in me weeks later, including one that shot deep into my knuckle.
Tallpine is right--this is a very well groomed trail. When you're fishing it can get a whole lot thicker than this, with near zero visibility all around. I appreciate a rifle with a bayonet at times like that :D
July 26, 2005, 10:52 PM
Yeah, these are well-maintained people trails. Get away from the towns and the "trails" are actual game trails, more or less a bear's foot width wide.
Still not sure how those huge moose can glide through that stuff like ghosts. At least the bears use the D-8 Cat method of bushwhacking when they aren't being sneaky.
July 27, 2005, 10:43 AM
Hoaky, nix the holstered big revo for bear protection in AK.
Would a Remington 1100 with an 18.25" bbl, +2 mag extension, and stoked with 2 3/4" brenneke slugs be suitable? Or should only high powered rifles apply?
July 27, 2005, 11:27 AM
On the very off-chance you were to run into a bear that didn't move away from you, that'd be a good choice.
Most of the Fish and Feathers, USGS, and such types carry some flavor of 12 ga. with slugs.
Don't dismiss the holstered handgun too quickly though, it doesn't have to be concealed and draw-to-fire times, with practice, don't have to be that much slower than a shotgun from a two handed carry or more likely slung.
And if you don't see the bear and it gets right up to chewin' on ya, it's easier to shoot the thing off of you with a handgun vice longarm.
I very seldom carry my longguns at low ready, since I'm hiking, not patrolling. :D
i'd suggest a big handgun on your hip... perhaps a .454casull, like the Ruger Alaskan. the Desert Eagle in .44 wouldn't be a bad choice IF it wasn't so heavy with the heightened possibility of it jamming (IIRC, the gas system causes the gun to malf. if the muzzle is flipped too much). and that should be accompanied with a 12 gauge w/ 2 3/4" or 3" shells loaded with slugs slung on your back. pump action, somewhere in the 7+1 range of mag caps.
July 27, 2005, 12:51 PM
I did a stint with the Corps of Engineers back in the early 80's. One of our jobs was the initial layout of the Bradley Lake Dam. While I was a civilian, the Army issued me a 12-gauge shotty for the duration of the job. Some of the crew carried sidearms but no one strayed far from some sort of gun.
Each morning we would arrive on site by helicopter from Homer. Before setting down, the pilot would buzz the area, chasing bears away. There were always one or two and sometimes even a wolverine. When working in heavy brush, we make a lot of noise but if we were just passing through we'd carry at 'port arms' with one in the pipe. Bears seem to have a 'sweet tooth' for surveyors.
July 27, 2005, 01:26 PM
Getting off the trail, to get out of Mr. Bruins way, isn't an option in many places.
i can see carebear now, looking at the brush, running in place, looking at the bear, looking back at the brush, then screaming 'auugggghhhhhhhh' and just diving for the devils club.
in my minds eye, its a very 'homer simpsonish' moment. :neener:
July 27, 2005, 02:34 PM
:D I actually did that! And yes I looked a lot like Homer Simpson. Mr. Moose just wagged his antlers and trotted on down the trail in victory.
No Brakes--Yo AK represent! I'm comin' atchu straight out of Chugach.
Chorus "Am I pale enough for you? Am I pale enough pale enough pale enough"
July 27, 2005, 02:59 PM
see i'm so ugly and fat i'm like shrek: i can scare off anything, predominantly females, but in general anything on two legs or four would rather go around me than through me.
p.s. now that you are a permanent neighbor, which end of spenard are you on? we are hoping to fill the gap in the field of fire that carebear left when he moved to the posh downtown district.
July 27, 2005, 03:03 PM
We have a posh downtown district?
July 27, 2005, 03:10 PM
so your field of fire needs to drive the wannabe-bangers who keep doing drivebys and tagging the neighborhood with "LSK" west where i can keep them dancing long enough for wildalaska to pick them off from his balcony.
brings to mind the question of whether or not the tweaking-streetwalkers even notice when shots are fired.
July 27, 2005, 03:32 PM
THR imitates ND
Don – Hey Napoleon, what did you do all last summer again?
Napoleon Dynamite – I told you. I spent it with my uncle in Alaska hunting wolverines.
Don – Did you shoot any?
Napoleon Dynamite – Yes, like 50 of ‘em! They kept trying to attack my cousins.
What the heck would you do in a situation like that?
Don – What kind of gun did you use?
Napoleon Dynamite – A freakin’ 12 gauge! What do you think?!
Napoleon Dynamite – Well, nobody’s going to go out with me!
Pedro – Have you asked anybody yet?
Napoleon Dynamite – No, but who would? I don’t even have any good skills.
Pedro – What do you mean?
Napoleon Dynamite – You know, like numchuck skills, bow hunting skills,
computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.
July 27, 2005, 03:50 PM
There was a story in the ADN a few years ago about two hunters who heard noises coming from inside the remains of a frozen moose. One of the hunters invited the other to stick his head in the hole in the moose's chest, telling him he thought there was a wolverine in there. The other hunter complied and sure enough, there was a wolverine in there. State F&G officials were quoted as saying that sticking your head in a moose with a wolverine in it is not advised. :what:
July 27, 2005, 04:23 PM
And some people actually think Darwin was wrong... :D
July 28, 2005, 12:14 AM
Cosmoline: What trail is pictured there?
Tallpine: Wish I'd have known you were in the neighborhood. I live right on that trail.. my property borders it (on the EagRiv end). I only just a few weekends ago got around to hiking it in it's entirety. A friend and I blasted through, non-stop, in about 8hrs. The highlight was carrying a squirming and musclular, 70lb dog throuh the river ford after she refused to cross on her own... the water was unusually high and swift.
No bear sightings but have never seen such a concentration of scat.
July 28, 2005, 12:25 AM
Crow Pass at night while trying to be stealthy is bad, acting as opfor for high-strung teams with loaded shotguns makes Crow Pass a whole nother level of adventure.