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Old 06-11-2016, 03:53 PM   #1
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4 wheeling on a remote Alaskan island

Well, it looks like Iím moving to Prince of Whales island in South East Alaska, specifically Hydaburg where Iíve gotten a great job that should carry me through to retirement. Sadly, this means I probably wonít be doing much van camping or exploring in the lower 48 next winter, but the good news is that there is enough exploring on the island to last years. POW is the fourth largest island in the U.S. and the 97th largest in the world. There is a 2,500 mile road system on the island, and only a small fraction of it is paved.There are plenty of lakes, rivers and mountains that reach over 3,000 feet. Fjords, steep-sided mountains, and dense forests characterize the island. El Capatain Cave http://apps.usd.edu/esci/alaska/elcap.html the largest known cave in Alaska, will certainly be worth a visit. I'll need to provide my own entertainment, but between fishing, crabbing, and 4 wheeling I should be busy for some time.

What the island doesnít have is much in the way of civilization. A lot of the places I plan to explore are as remote and untraveled as anywhere Iíve been so far. Since Iíll probably be traveling alone much of the time, this means Iíll need to be as self-sufficient as possible, with as many spares as I can think of. After several years of remote travel in the van, I think Iím close, but mostly lacking in emergency communications.Iíll probably install an H.F. ham radio that will provide worldwide voice communications, but itís a pretty big expense. An alternative could be a SPOT transmitter but they require a subscription for two way communication. A PLB is another option thatís inexpensive but only one way. A marine VHF would probably work from atop a mountain, but in the valleys will be useless. So, there are lots of options available. Additional supplies to get will include a second spare tire, another couple coil packs (I used my spare a few months ago) a chain saw, a new can of bear spray and anything else I can think of. So, Iím open to ideas on anything to get me through this next adventure, whether it's additional spares, entertainment ideas, or anything else. This is going to be fun.........
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:30 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great opportunity for adventure and pay! Congratulations.
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:42 PM   #3
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Note that SPOT is one-way communication. For a similar device with two-way communication you need to be looking at the Delorme InReach. I've had a SPOT since 2008 and just switched to a Delorme InReach for that functionality.
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Old 06-11-2016, 05:15 PM   #4
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Not sure a HAM radio will get out int the valleys either. Be sure to know where the repeaters are on the island and what frequency they operate on. The HAM license is fairly easy to pass with a little studying. X2 on the InReach. It has several plan options including a month by month.

Congrats on the new job. Do you mind sharing what you will be working at in such a remote location?
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:46 PM   #5
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A year round job? Can you handle that? Is Janet staying in Juneau? What?
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:42 PM   #6
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You might also consider a small dirt bike that you could bring along as an alternate transportation source if you break down far in the backcountry.
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:48 PM   #7
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A good Ham rig for mobile is the Yaesu FT-857. You will always have better luck with an external wire antenna than a vehicle mounted one.

Good luck
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:20 PM   #8
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I dont have much to recommend other than maybe more water purification tablets and MREs but just wanted to say that your new location sounds like a ton of fun!
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:33 PM   #9
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A year round job? Can you handle that? Is Janet staying in Juneau? What?
Yeah Jeff, we need more info. What about the boat?

Going from a town of 32,400 to one with 400...yikes.
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:55 PM   #10
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Yeah Jeff, we need more info. What about the boat?
Going from a town of 32,400 to one with 400...yikes.
Yeah, quite a change but a great one. I'll be running the marine operations in support of the construction of a hydro electric power plant at a remote wilderness site. The resulting power will be fed to a grid supplying the entire island. The current plan is to move the boat to Ketchikan and then hopefully to the work site (depending on the availability of water and electricity). To begin with, I'll be living ashore but hope to find a suitable site for the boat so I can sleep in my own bed. Since the boat is our home in Juneau, Mrs AT will be leaving her job and coming along in the beginning to give it a try, but the job is too good to pass up with great money, outstanding benifits and a new adventure in Alaska. It's been a long time since I've worked more than 6 months at a time, but I expect to be fully retired in a couple years so it's a pretty short time frame.

As far as things to bring, I'm stocking up on a ton of books and movies. A dirt bike is high on the list too, but I'm also considering a mountain bike with an electric assist that would be good enough to get me somewhere I could call for help. I've already got a VHF / UHF ham radio to hit any repeaters available, and I think an HF would get out pretty well, even in some of the valleys if I can point the signal upwards. i'll look into the Yaesu FT-857, thanks for the recomendation. The Inreach is a great alternative, but requires an expensive subscription I'd rather avoid.
I have no doubt this is going to be a great adventure, so I hope to be posting some exciting trip reports in the months to come.
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