Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mount Ballyhoo

The small island (Amaknak) where Dutch Harbor is located can be divided into three sections. The southern quarter is a series of peaks with little to no population. The middle 15% is the commercial center of Dutch Harbor, and the rema . . . EARTHQUAKE!!

As I was sitting here typing about 10:00 pm, an earthquake just came rolling through Unalaska. No idea how strong it was, but definite rolling motion that lasted about a minute. I'll try to update you about this as soon as possible, but may not have any facts until tomorrow. Wow! Talk about an Aleutian Adventure!!!

Now, as I was saying--the remaining 60% is Mount Ballyhoo, pictured above. (This is the mountain that we see to our left as we look out on Iliuliuk Bay.) The mountain was allegedly named by author Jack London who was in Dutch Harbor on his way to the gold fields in Nome in the late 1800s. No one has been able to prove this, but it is accepted as a "common fact" by the population here. This mountain is interesting for several reasons.

First, there is a one-mile long natural spit which juts out into the Bay at the base of Ballyhoo, about in the middle of the mountain. The area confined by the spit and mountain are what was originally known as Dutch Harbor, and it is the scene of the Port of Dutch Harbor today. There are docks, a salvage company, container ship facilities, etc.

Second, this was one of the most heavily fortified of the areas around Dutch Harbor in World War II. It is one of the areas where WWII building debris is everywhere, particularly on the northern most end which guards the harbor.

And finally, it is the scene of the annual Ballyhoo run! This is no traditional road race. It is more in the spirit of the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska, on the Fourth of July up a mountain over 3000 feet tall. The Ballyhoo run goes straight up the south end of the mountain which is 1635 feet tall. People of all ages race--kids go up only 3/4 of the way then must return; adults go clear to the top. The winner today completed the run in approximately 24 minutes! It is probably a grade of about 35%. Amazing to watch. Our favorite 6 year old was in the front row to start the race!

We have enjoyed taking part in local events and interacting with people of the community. We are recognizing a surprising number of people now, and that makes it seem a bit more like we belong.


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  2. can't wait to hear/swap the tales over a few shots of tequila.
    Beautiful photos!