Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Gary Sprinkle with Dr. Shannon Atkinson of the Alaska Sealife Center.

Going up north in the
dead of winter with
Hawaii’s Gary Sprinkle

"Pacific Adventures: Adventuring Alaska with Gary Sprinkle": Airs at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow on KITV; repeats 2:30 p.m. Dec. 28

By Tim Ryan

Hawaii newsman and adventurer Gary Sprinkle's latest Pacific Adventures takes viewers to South Central Alaska for a three-part quest of canoeing, fishing and environmental education into one of America's final and unforgiving frontiers.

Sprinkle and photographer Sonny Ahuna begin in just one of two canoe wilderness systems in the United State through parts of the Kenai Wilderness Refuge. Backwoodsman and guide Mike Adlan takes Sprinkle in his canoe down streams, across lakes and portaging -- that means carry -- between bodies of water. The waterways are empty of other humans but the shoreline is abundant with moose and bird life, including soaring and nesting eagles, and a leg from a moose carcass felled by a bear.

At Aialak Bay Sprinkle dons a neon orange survival suit when he tags along with research scientists from the Alaska Sealife Center traveling by dinghy through freezing water and a bay dotted with icebergs and harbor seals to reach a small islet off a glacier. The scientists are trying to determine what's causing a the harbor seals' population to dramatically decline over the last decade.

Then it's off to the Kenai peninsula where for some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the world whether by motorless boat, V-shaped inner tube or shoreline.

Viewers meet two Hawaii men fishing on Ship Creek in the heart of Anchorage, a father and son using inner tubes to reach pockets of mountain trout, and finally king salmon fishing on a section of the Kasilof River where motorized craft are not allowed.

Sprinkle's narration is informative and never preaching though he doesn't try to hide his awe for the 49th state. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, Ahuna's are worth a book of their own. The images are crisp and subtle yet capture the astounding beauty of Alaska without overwhelming the viewer.

This is a far too brief travelogue that left me wanting to see more.

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