"We live in a place," Dolly Hills says, "where people disappear."
People vanish by accident and by design, by fluke of nature or quirk of circumstance, by foul play, misstep and bad luck.
There are so many ways in Alaska to get lost, and so many reasons the lost may not be found.
Between the western tip of the Aleutian chain to the eastern edge of the Alaska Panhandle lie 39 mountain ranges, 3,000 rivers, 5,000 glaciers and more than 3 million lakes, all of which offer nooks and envelopes for bodies to slip in and remain hidden forever.
The mud flats are like quicksand, the days like nights (for half the year, anyway), the snowstorms like blankets that cover all tracks and traces.
In charge of searching this vast terrain are the Alaska State Troopers, whose field officers number just over 300. It works out to about one trooper for every 2,300 square miles, or an area just smaller than Delaware.
This, according to Lt. Craig MacDonald, the department's search and rescue supervisor, points to what makes his job so difficult: When someone gets lost, the search areas can be as large as many states, and considerably more rugged.
So much of the terrain is unknown. Often when searchers enter a remote area, it will be their first time there — a distinct difference from other places, where volunteers usually search areas familiar to them.
In Alaska, even the largest cities lie in the middle of wilderness.
"From this building, you can walk five minutes and be in deep woods," says MacDonald, sitting in his Anchorage office. "You can go a mile, two miles out, and never be found. It happens all the time."
Gad! You're cheerful this morning, Mr. S. G'day and keep your pecker up.
ok, the morbid side of me wants to go to alaska now!
I have never realized that so much of alaska is untouched wilderness...
great article Mr still....
Alaska, is supposedly THE ultimate trip to take, expensive though.
paulaj wrote:Alaska, is supposedly THE ultimate trip to take, expensive though.
Ultimate, as in 'the last trip ever' ultimate? It couldn't GET any more costly :wink:
What led up to the latest Alaska bear attack, as well as exactly when it happened, is unknown. The bodies of Treadwell and Huguenard, a physician's assistant from Boulder, Colo., were discovered Monday by the pilot of a Kodiak air taxi who arrived at their wilderness camp to take them back to civilization. A bear had buried the remains of both in what is known as a "food cache.''
The couple's tent was flattened as if a bear sat or stepped on it, but it had not been ripped open, even though food was inside. The condition of the tent led most knowledgeable observers to conclude the attack probably took place during the daylight hours when Treadwell and Huguenard were outside the tent, instead of at night when they would have been inside. Most of their food was found in bear-proof containers near the camp.