Still looking for Auntie Val…

Summer turns into winter at Granite Creek

Three weeks of moving with a last-chance sense of urgency and purpose, as winter drops in for real and locks up the creeks.

Valerie’s dad, Victor,  got a real-time imaging underwater camera to get under log jams and sweepers piled into the creek by the September storm.

Awesome individuals have devoted their own time and resources, for no particular reason except to help, filling in the ranks and picking up the slack as family tends to the necessary business of life.

Thomas from Fairbanks has been there every weekend, accompanied by Ralph.

Rosemary has been delivering full hot meals 65 miles down the highway.

Andy (Alaska Backcountry Access in Girdwood) ran the middle and lower canyons of Six Mile with five people in two rafts and partnered Valerie’s brother Bryan the next weekend on the upper creek near the campground, helping with the camera.

Stacie of MATSAR K9 (Wasilla) and Marty Williams of PAWS (Fairbanks) ran another mission with Search & Rescue/cadaver dogs.  Talk about dedication, those people are fantastic!

Stacie Burkhardt, MATSAR K9

Marty Williams, with his dogs Toby and Maya, has been involved in search and rescue missions for more than a decade. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Organizations like MATSAR K9 and PAWS are professional volunteer groups. They pay for their own specialized training and equipment, spend their own time, and use their own resources. And they don’t just serve the community they live in – they go where they are needed.

A group of soldiers just back from Afghanistan rolled in to help – the 1st of the 501st Airborne Infantry,  organized and led by Sgt. Robert Parks.

These guys are awesome. From 120° desert heat to the freezing Alaska backcountry. What a generous and selfless and compassionate gesture by these men. These guys have spent their first days of free time back in the United States, helping out. That is the very essence of honor and distinction.

Way to represent the military, gentlemen.  You rock.

Andrew McFarland, Jacob Barlow, Andrew Vroom, Jason Amiott, Andrew Marrero, Reno Magsayo, Benjamin Ballard, Zac Lialek, Derek Brown, Robert Parks, James R. Watts, Paul Benjamin Grantham, Remy Ogoy

On Wednesday, we tore up a log jam the dogs alerted on behind one of the campsites. Andy brought his trusty Toyota truck and backcountry guide/pastry chef Hans Murray (Girdwood).

We towed off trees, sawed up everything we could reach, cut holes in the ice with a chain saw.







Sgt. Parks brought his men back and Victor led the group on Saturday, deconstructing a log jam at the next bend, moving everything possible and attempting to get visuals with the camera through thick syrupy ice and frozen silt.

It is startling how fast that creek froze up and the depth of ice layered in there in just a few days – solid and unmoving, ice formed in a fast-moving current.

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Thoughtful kindnesses everywhere prop up the search effort –

Always a kind word and cup of coffee from the pleasant Tesoro staff. Manager Connie freed up the schedule so Sean could join the search group.

Kerry Dorius (Girdwood Clinic) provided exceptional minor emergency care to a search volunteer. Alyeska Resort housed the soldiers at a discounted rate (thanks, Michelle and Di). The Girdwood ranger station staff has been responsive and helpful.

Early on, Terry Sherwood supplied a pile of raingear and boots; Lauren Roberts offered food; local photographer Eric Teela produced photos and video; Silvertip Grill provided tarps and a warm dry place to go.  Kelvin (OTC Web Design) added a website here. Thanks, guys.

Complete strangers volunteer time and energy in cold unpleasant conditions. Amazing.




Pay it forward. Generously support the non-profit organizations like this across Alaska. You never know when you might need them. 

Find out more (clickable links) – MATSAR K9, Alaska Search and Rescue Association, Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Bethel Seach and Rescue, Kodiak Island Search and Rescue, Valdez Search and Rescue , Alaska Avalanche Information Center,