A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Fairbanks: 37°/68°/Partly sunny
Juneau: 37°/63°/Partly sunny
The round-rumped grizzly bear ambled toward us, and I swallowed a scream and the urge to run. It had 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve wilderness in which to roam, yet somehow this bear had managed to find my backpacking partner and me, alone on the Savage River.
On and off the road system, Alaska is dotted with cities, towns and villages that give the state its real character.
Luck struck around 6:30 a.m. Sunday -- less than nine hours before the end of the 10-day Slam'n Salm'n derby -- when Robert Hayes hooked a 40.97-pound king salmon that made him the winner.
Summer solstice marked the beginning of the warm season last week, but two Anchorage fly-fishermen discovered Monday morning that winter still lingers deep in the Chugach Mountains.
Kuskokwim River town is regional supply center
McGrath, Alaska, is adjacent to the Kuskokwim River directly south of its confluence with the Takotna River.
McGrath, population about 410, functions as a transportation, communications and supply center in Interior Alaska.
A little less than half of the residents are Athabaskans, Eskimos or Aleuts. McGrath offers a variety of employment opportunities, but subsistence remains an important part of the local culture.
About 10 families in town have dog teams that they enter into the Iditarod, Kuskokwim 300 and Mail Trail 200 sled dog races.
McGrath was a seasonal Upper Kuskokwim Athabaskan village used as a meeting and trading place for Big River, Nikolai, Telida and Lake Minchumina residents.
Gold was discovered in the Innoko District in 1906 and at Ganes Creek in 1907. Since McGrath is the northernmost point on the Kuskokwim River accessible by large riverboats, it became a regional supply center. By 1907, a town was established and was named for Peter McGrath, a local U.S. marshal.
The Iditarod Trail also contributed to McGrath's role as a supply center. From 1911 to 1920, hundreds of people walked and mushed over the trail on their way to the Ophir gold districts. In 1940, an airstrip was cleared, the FAA built a communications complex and a school was opened.
McGrath became an important refueling stop during World War II, as part of the Lend-Lease Program between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1964, a new high school was built, attracting boarding students from nearby villages. The city was incorporated in 1975.
Source: Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development