Teen headed for Alaska wilderness trek
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In a few weeks, Alysshia Almasy will cheerfully strap on a 60-pound backpack and spend a month hiking through remote areas of Alaska, following caribou migration routes.
The 17-year-old student at Moon Area High School won a $4,000 scholarship that will finance the adventure.
Alysshia, of Moon, will leave June 19 and return July 20. She and 14 other teens will travel 90 to 150 miles through remote mountain areas in the Talkeetna and Alaskan ranges. They'll hike at elevations as high as 7,000 feet, with a month's supplies on their backs. Each night, they will sleep in tents.
"We're going to have to take a small plane to get to the remote areas," Alysshia said.
The hikers expect to see moose, brown bears, black bears, wolves and coyotes in natural habitats along tundra landscapes.
The scholarship is from the National Outdoor Leadership School, a nonprofit educational institution that has taken more than 75,000 people on wilderness expeditions. The application process included writing essays.
The expeditions are designed to teach outdoor skills, environmental ethics, wilderness survival tactics and leadership skills, as well as map reading, plant and animal identification, and information about ecosystems and geology.
Alysshia, a high school junior, has been active in the Student Conservation Association. She has gone on other backpacking and hiking trips, including one last year to Michigan, where she helped restore park trails.
The 15 students will be accompanied by three professional adult instructors who have extensive training and experience, said National Outdoor Leadership School spokeswoman Jeanne O'Brien. They will not be armed because "wildlife in remote areas are generally more afraid of people than people are of them." Leaders carry satellite phones so they can summon help, if necessary.
Alysshia said she'd "like to major in adventure recreation and environmental studies" in college. She hopes her Alaska trek will help her move toward that goal.
First Published May 28, 2009 5:33 am