TAR 23 Finale Day: July 2, 2013 Juneau, Alaska.
I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when my phone rang and the person on the other end told me she just saw racers from the amazing race load onto jet boats at the Douglas Harbor! Since that day, I have been investigating the locations and I am now happy to share what I know and what I suspect happened!
I am a big fan of the show and have watched it from season 1. I have applied but have never been called back. I have held local races here for years, so you can understand my passion for TAR. It was so much fun investigating the locations and finding evidence that the race was on that spot. I can tell you that the locations they used, I would have never guess them in a million years. When I did look for the racers after the boat harbor, I never come close to the locations they used. They were well picked.
After my investigation and talking to witnesses, I believe I have a pretty good idea on the locations and what happened or what I suspect happened.
Talking to witnesses was always a treat, so many of them didn’t think they knew anything about the race until I started asking them questions and they remember what they saw or heard. The witness who saw the Structure being built in the parking lot thought they were the new Verizon towers going up for Juneau! After talking with her and having her sketch the structure, it become obvious to her that it was not a Verizon tower!
Remember, that the only two locations that had positive sightings were the airport and the Douglas Boat Harbor. After the Boat Harbor the racers were never seen again. I am only going on what I discovered in the hunt for clues.
The locations are:
Douglas Boat Harbor
Landing Site on Norris Glacier
Lake Access at Norris Glacier
Lake Departure at Picnic Table Island
Blueberry Hill – Dan Moeller Trailhead parking lot
Outer Point Trail http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637576039916/
I will layout my investigation concerning each location.
Juneau Airport - Find the lady in the Red hat.
- Talked to a passenger who was seated next to the racers on the flight and they were asking if anybody knew where they could find the lady in the Red hat at the Airport. I believe this to be true because the racers were seen in the photo leaving the airport building from the small plane terminal. They would have no reason to be coming out that entrance unless they were searching the airport. All jet passengers exit the airport on the far right side.http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637575597615/
Douglas Boat Harbor - They took jet boats to Grizzly bar. The jet boats were station at the second finger from the right. There are two ramps that access the floats. The racers could have used either ramp just depends where they got dropped off. It would take about an hour to get the bar. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637575815015/
Grizzly Bar – Board a helicopter and deploy 18 - 1 lb markers onto Grizzly Bar. I suspect it was a roadblock and the racer had to drop a marker from the helicopter and hit a target. Talked to some pilots who said that the 1lb markers are typical used at air shows and hit the ground in a burst of white material. I know they rented four helicopters. One was outfitted with a cineflex camera mounted on the bottom of the helicopter.
They also rented three float planes. I also was told by a witness who overheard a conversation between crew members at the airport Wednesday morning that the helicopter bill was the most ever paid by the show and the reason for the large bill was the “dive-bombing” scene that was shot.
Norris Glacier – It is a little tougher now since this is a very remote location!
Landing site. Perform a task that was setup by Above and Beyond Alaska.
Lake Access – not sure what they did here. I suspect a water activity to get them to the Lake Departure site. Talked to several people who went up the river that week and it was at flood stage so I suspect the water level might have been high enough to take a water craft all the way to Lake Departure site.
Lake Departure – I suspect they boarded a float plane back to Juneau. This site is known as Picnic Table Island. Pilots who flew over the island use it as a reference point for their current location to dispatch. It has a very old runway built on it and a Picnic Table along the runway. Do not know how the racers got back to Juneau. It is something to note that a line was drawn between these points. Wonder what it means? http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637612748875/
Blueberry Hill – at the parking lot for the Dan Moeller Trail, perform the final task in the structure that was built at the site. In the pictures, the parking lot is located just beyond the highest white houses on the hill. You can almost see the cut in the tress where the road bends around the corner.http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637576080856/
From an eyewitness account, the structure was built the weekend before July 2nd. It had three large towers that were tied-down to concrete blocks. Black landscape material was hanging down from the top and to the ground. The sketch shows the layout of the structure in the parking lot. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637576720896/
A Security guard was stationed at the Trail Parking only sign and would not allow hikers to go up the parking lot. I talked to one person who was turned away and was told they would have to come back tomorrow.
The entire parking lot area was “dressed up” with trees and plants purchased from Home Depot. From a conversation with a Home Depot employee, all the trees and plants they had were purchased and loaded onto a truck. He was shocked someone would buy that many plants! As you will see in the pictures, some were left behind for me to find!!http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637576506696/
My evidence on Home Depot.http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637577582203/
The tracks show that a front-end loader was used.http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637577410234/
and of course, what investigation would be complete without looking in the dumpster! Jackpot! http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637576285846/
Outerpoint Trail – race to the final mat at the end of the trail along the beach.
The trail was closed between noon and 9pm on July 2nd. I did hear of one hiker who was turned away by a security guard around 3pm. He only saw the security guard and no one else at the parking lot.
The pictures show the trail loop. The upper trail goes across Beaver Creek and the lower trail goes across the bog.
Most of the picture were taken when the tide was out. I did go back and get shots with the tide in and about the same height of the tide on July 2nd at 6pm. We have 20 foot tide swings here so low tide is really low tide. You can see from the pictures most of the beach disappears at high tide. I suspect the final mat will be along the beach where the upper trail exits the woods. At high tide you will have about 30 feet of beach still above water.
But what really will be fun to watch is the run out to the beach. The lower trail is longer but is easy to run on. Mostly gravel trail with some planks and bridges. The upper trail is almost all planks and very slippery. I hope we get to see the action as they run out the trail!
I happened to be downtown a few days after and ran into this truck parked at the Baranof hotel. The Baranof is the hotel the crew and racers stayed at. PIKSIK was the film production outfit that was hired to assist the race in Alaska.http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/sets/72157637577942213/
I hope you have enjoyed the story and the pictures. It has been an adventure of great fun for me to do this and something I will never forget. The best to all!
All my pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tar23/