Well, my blogging resolve is not as good as it should be. But I have been working on non-blog writing, so another book is on-line. This memoir/adventure story, Griggs of Katmai, will be free for a month or so on Scribl.com. Well I thought it would be available there, but due to errors in formatting the many graphics, it is not yet available except from the author.
In 1912 the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century blew the hell out of the Katmai region of southwest Alaska. In fact, if you measure eruption by amount of lava, ash and such ejected, this eruption was the largest of the last few millennia, so massive it affected weather in Africa and South Asia. Griggs of Katmai is the story of the discovery of the volcano, Novarupta, and the exploration of the region. Because of advances in aviation during World War I, there would never again be true exploration because “explorers” from then on would have aerial photographs, maps, or at least detailed reports from plane flights over any region they ventured into. There may be other examples, but Griggs’ and Shaklelton’s expeditions may well have been the last two most-significant explorations done with no maps.
Remains of one of the thousands of fumeroles in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Erosion by the River Lethe shows the depth of the lava flow. This is more than five miles from the source.
Robert Fiske Griggs led the exploration, up the delta of the Katmai River, about 25 miles of quicksand and un-crossable rivers, to see the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. He and his two companions were the first to see the Valley. Really the first! The land in the Valley had only been created in 1912.
Ruth Griggs Higbie, Griggs’ oldest child, wrote a biography of her father and the story of that 1916 expedition. After her death Ruth’s youngest son, James H. Higbie, added material from a 1997 family trip to the Valley written by several of Griggs’ great-grandchildren. In 2020 I edited much of this material and added a dozen pages of notes, explaining terminology, Alaska, and the history of the time. (I have visited the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes five times and spent about three weeks in it. I also lived in Interior Alaska for five years, regularly attended the staff meetings of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and took the International Volcanological Field Trip to Katmai, a class offered through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.)