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Backpacking Katmai

What prompted the creation of the Katmai National Park was the eruption of Novaropta in 1912, the largest recorded in modern times. Acid rain burned clothing lines as far as Vancouver, and locally a lantern held at arm's length could not be seen for days. The floor of a vast Valley was buried in 700 feet of pumice and ash, and its surface was found by a 1916 National Geographic expedition to be steaming with thousands of fumaroles, hence the name Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Nowadays, the fumaroles are gone from the valley floor, however nearly a century of harsh weather has enhanced its beauty, and one can now gaze into river canyons hundreds of feet deep where the layers of pumice and ash have been slowly eroded by the channeled rain and snowmelt.

Eureka Wang and I set up to backpack in the Valley for a week. Although bad weather thwarted our attempts to climb the high peaks surrounding the valley, we left with memorable impressions of an eerily unique landscape. See also the scenic and wildlife pictures of Katmai National Park.

[Click on any picture to see a larger image and details, to add to selection, to order, and to download wallpaper.]

Backpacker follow bear tracks, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker hikes in sand-like ash, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Camping on the bare terrain of the Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Climbing into the Novaropta crater, where fumeroles are still present, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Hiking in a white-out, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker in white-out conditions, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Abandonned geological survey cabin, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Abandonned geological survey cabin, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Visitor log in abandonned geological survey cabin, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker writes into the visitor log in the USGS research cabins, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker reads visitor log in abandonned geological survey cabin, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker collects water from a neve melt-off in the otherwise dry  Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska Backpacker leaves the Baked mountain behind, Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. Katmai National Park, Alaska

All text and photos © Q.-T. Luong. See conditions for use of images. All the 13 pictures of Backpacking Katmai are on this page