Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pictures from 2001.

Here are a few pictures from the 2001 Wilderness Classic.  This race route started in Nabesna and finished in McCarthy.  

The first picture is on the second section of boating on the Nabesna to McCarthy route on the Nabesna River.  Check out the raft pictured here.  It's likely a Curtis Designs raft which were the lightest and smallest rafts among several different types that racers used.  At about 1.5 lbs, these rafts embodied the true spirit of light and fast travel through the wilderness.  They were also dangerous for inexperienced rafters.  These rafts were very durable but were also so small that most racers had to raft with their legs hanging over the edges in the water.  This was great to chill and sooth swollen, abused ankles in the glacial water but also led to hypothermia and extreme anxiety in big water.  Adding to the adventure, this was a time when almost nobody used life jackets.  Sturdy Alpacka rafts are required gear now and most racers use some sort of life jacket. 

This picture is approximately an hour into the Nabesna River float, about 10-15 miles into the race.  The racer taking this picture is probably headed toward the bottom of the mountain in the background.  This is where Cooper Creek enters the Nabesna River and where the next section of hiking begins.  The cloudy, low light weather is typical.  This is about where most racers begin questioning whether they should have started the race at all. 

Donna Klecka and and the legendary Dick Griffith drying out their gear about 50 miles into the race at Chisana. The fastest racers try to make it to Chisana in one day of travel.  Most racers arrive there on the second day.  Chisana is one of those little Alaskan gold rush towns that time forgot.  Only a handful of people live there in log cabins and the residents are more interesting than characters out of a pulp fiction novel. There is an airstrip here and this is the most common place for people to drop out of the race.  After Chisana, opportunities for dropping out and getting a plane to fly you out are extremely limited.  From Chisana to the finish line is about one hundred miles of rough, wild Alaskan terrain with some serious rafting required.  Novices, neophytes and greenhorns need not apply. 

 Dick Griffith, the legend himself, finishing the race in McCarthy.  

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