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Flying in to your own Alaska wilderness cabin.

THE FLOATPLANE that dropped us off quickly vanished from sight and earshot. Now we were enveloped by silence and dense stands of Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, alder, wild currants, ferns, and--underfoot--sphagnum moss. It was hard to believe we'd left the urban canyons of Los Angeles only the day before.

In early spring, we had decided to plan a father-and-son trip to try wilderness hiking and fishing in Alaska. But it was already May when we got around to calling the U.S. Forest Service in Juneau to ask about cabin rentals in southeast Alaska. Fortunately, plenty of cabins were still available, and the cost seemed reasonable: $20 a night.

We chose the cabin at Hasselborg Creek on Admiralty Island, about an hour south of Juneau by floatplane. We learned that the wood-framed cabin included two bunks, a table and bench, plus a fireplace, woodstove, and rowboat. Cut logs were available, but we'd have to split them for firewood.

Next came the task of outfitting ourselves with everything we'd need for a week in the wilderness. Our gear included sleeping bags, water purification tablets, a camp stove, cooking supplies, and extra food--in case our fishing wasn't productive. To that we added toiletries, first-aid supplies, rain gear, insect repellent, bear repellent (just in case), flashlights, plus the tools of our chief avocation: fishing rods and reels.

In mid-July, we flew from Los Angeles to Juneau, with a stop in Seattle.

From Juneau, there was only one way to reach our cabin on Admiralty Island--by floatplane. We had previously arranged with Alaska Coastal Airlines (907/789-7818) for a round-trip flight from the Juneau airport to the cabin in one of its smaller floatplanes, with a weight limit of 700 pounds, including our gear and us (our inbound flight cost $230 per hour; on our outbound flight, we paid $265 per hour for a larger plane).

We found Hasselborg Creek and Admiralty Island to be tranquil and bountiful. Delicious salmonberries were everywhere, and the fishing couldn't have been better. At the mouth of the creek, a 1/2-mile walk from our cabin, we caught as many cutthroat trout as we could eat, and even landed a few delicate-flavored Dolly Varden trout. We cast flies, and the trout would strike them immediately. (We carried nonresident fishing licenses; $30 for 14 days from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.)

We listened to loons cry each evening and watched bald eagles soar. We certainly looked for, but never saw, brown bears. There were periods of rain and sunshine, and--at nearly 60-degrees north latitude--18 hours of daylight. For six days, we didn't see or hear any other human beings. We plan to return soon.

The cabin we chose is among nearly 150 at sites in southeast Alaska alone. Most cabins accommodate 4 persons; a few sleep 12. There's a seven-day maximum stay, April through October. The total fee must be paid in advance. For cabin information, write to the U.S. Forest Service, 101 Eagan Dr., Juneau 99801, or telephone (907) 586-8751.
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Author:MacCaskey, Michael
Date:May 1, 1992
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