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Alaska -- living the (wet and windy) adventure

Craig Medred

Remember what a nightmare September was in Southcentral Alaska with a series of storms that brought torrential rains and hurricane force winds? Well, a hunter from Omaha, Neb., remembers better than most.

Psychologist Jim Mathisen was on the southern edge of the Kenai Peninsula when the weather went in the toilet, according to the Omaha World Herald.

“Things got pretty dangerous,” Mathisen told the Herald. Well, not really, said Anchorage guide Hal LaPointe, who was guiding Mathisen on the Kenai mountain goat hunt. But he admitted that things did get damn uncomfortable. And for someone from Outside, he said, it certainly must have looked near death.

"When we got (to the lake) and the boat wasn't there, I was worried,” Mathisen told the Herald. LaPointe at that time realized he'd led his client down the wrong route to the coastal lake. He told Mathisen to stay put while he climbed back up a mountainside to find the right route (the Herald calls it a "trail'' but there are none of those on remote parts of the Kenai) to descend to the boat.

That left Mathisen alone with nothing but his thoughts for the longest 45 minutes in his life.

"“I was thinking about my son and my daughter, my wife, my family,” the 42-year-old hunter told the Herald. “I'm thinking about my career, my friends, people that I work with, about a buddy, my best friend from junior high who I had a falling out with. ... I thought, 'I don't want to roll out this way.'”

"He's from Outside,'' LaPointe told Alaska Dispatch. The perspective is different. From LaPointe's view, the trip to an unnamed lake above Prince William Sound's Port Brainbridge was just another camping trip from hell. Luckily, he said, the men had a cabin to stay in along the lake after they got down the mountain from their hunt. Still, it wasn't a whole lot of fun. LaPointe said they'd planned to be out six days that turned into 16. He had to cancel a second goat hunt he'd booked. In an interview, he seemed almost relieved to have done that.

Anyone who spent September anywhere in Southcentral Alaska can probably identify. An outdoor writer for a newspaper in Roanoke, Va. went to Cordova to fish after a conference elsewhere in the state, and ended up stuck in the coastal town writing for days about the crappy Alaska weather. It got to the point where Mark Taylor felt he had to apologize to readers.

"Regular readers are probably tiring of my tales from Alaska,'' he wrote on Sept. 26. "They are about to end." Incidentially, Taylor's "Alaska Dispatch,'' as he tagged his Alaska bloggings, bears no connection to the Alaska Dispatch website.

The author’s views are his own and not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch. Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com