A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
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For the first time ever in the ski area's history, Alyeska Resort opened Max's Mountain to the public on Saturday from the peak's summit.
A decades-long dream of backcountry hikers to construct a network of destinations in remote sections of the Kenai Peninsula accessible mainly by the Alaska Railroad took a step forward this month.
What's better, bagging a giant king salmon or a kokanee, the landlocked red salmon that rarely exceeds 14 inches? A Kodiak brown bear more than 1,000 pounds or a chukar, a small game bird in the pheasant family? Outdoor Life magazine, apparently, prefers modest species gathered in pleasant weather.
'POSTPONED': Sponsor's focus on opening new facility for the needy means this year's event is canned.
A unique fishing derby in which anglers battle hefty king salmon in the shadow of a downtown skyline will take a year off.
The Slam'n Salm'n Derby, sponsored by the Downtown Soup Kitchen, is a 10-day tournament in June that typically attracts more than a thousand anglers to the banks of Ship Creek in pursuit of Alaska's largest salmon. But this year the soup kitchen decided it needed to focus its efforts on opening a new facility.
"Like any organization, we have limited resources -- whether it's money or people," said Mike Martin, the president of the soup kitchen's board of directors. "When we looked at applying our resources, we had two major events that take thousands of hours together. We needed to prioritize.
"The word we're using is postponed."
Anglers such as Robert Hayes, the 2008 champion with a 41-pound king, are saddened to find a hole in their fishing calendar.
"Oh yeah, a very big disappointment," he said. "The derby used to be the easiest way to get your five kings."
Tourism officials are a bit chagrined, too.
"We use it to sell Anchorage," said Jack Bonney, public relations manager with the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Ship Creek salmon are stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which last year deposited about 315,000 smolt in the creek, according to state biologist Dan Bosch. Since 2005, those smolt have been smaller because the state fisheries managers lost warm water provided by the heat-generating power plants on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson -- heat that helps fuel growth.
Biologists aren't sure exactly how many kings return, but estimated the number between 6,000 and 9,500. Most kings spend three or four years at sea, but some jacks return after only a year in salt water.
The new $96 million Jack Hernandez State Fish Hatchery will open on the creek later this year and the state-of-the-art facility is expected to allow managers to ramp up production.
And next summer, the derby should be back.
"That's our plan and our hope," Martin said. "We'll re-evaluate how we do the derby and hopefully come out with something even better."
Running the tournament requires nine volunteers a day for 10 days, he said, plus weeks' worth of advance work.
"Planning is measured in the thousands of hours," Martin said. "People in nonprofit work recognize that events don't bring a return equal to the effort. The salmon derby is no exception."
But the event does raise enough money to cover the annual food budget for the soup kitchen, which hands out 100,000 meals a year.
Pinning down sponsors that offer prizes was also "very challenging" this year, Martin said. "Everybody has tightened their belts."
The last few years, the derby winner has walked away with a 16-foot Klamath fishing boat, trailer and outboard motor.
Prizes or no prizes, Hayes said he'll be on Ship Creek's banks casting for the kings starting next month.
"It's fun to watch everybody," he said. "You make mistakes and lose fish, and then they do, too. People catch a fish and jump for joy.
"The crowds will still be there. I guarantee that."
Reach reporter Mike Campbell at email@example.com or 257-4329.