Monthly Archives: August 2012

ANWR Pt 3

One evening we finished at a reasonable time so we went for a boat ride eastof our job site to the mouth of the Aichalik R to try some fishing.  Everyone caught a nice Grayling except me.  We were amazed to see such impressive lightning and thunder storms.

One evening after our 10 PM dinners we had a curious grizzly bear approach our camp so we all came out to yell and scream it away.
After waiting 3 days the weather cleared enough to fly me and my gear out from ANWR to Prudhoe Bay, where I spent a night before eventually getting home on a Saturday afternoon.  I flew from the east end of ANWR all the way across it to  beyond the west end into Deadhorse along the north shore.  Parts of the flight reminded me of the movie “Out of Africa” as we looked down on many flocks of migrating birds and saw the trampled grasses from huge herds of caribou.  I enjoyed flying over the many remote rivers that I hope to someday float and fish as soon as Ben is old enough.  ANWR was an awesome experience…so loaded with wildlife!  Those who call it a waste land obviously have a different perspective on life.

ANWR Part 2

While working in ANWR I got to see my first Lemmings which were easy to find under boards or logs.  Plenty of Arctic Ground Squirrels and caribou!

Kogotpak and Nuvagapak Part 1

I recently returned from two weeks of working in the NE corner of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  There were 7 of us stuck together working long days, eating, and commuting and swatting annoying mosquitoes together for the duration.  Fortunately we all got along very well!  We flew in from Anchorage to Deadhorse, then special charter across all of ANWR along the shore to our camp.  We could see lots of ice bergs and broken ice as the sea here just recently melted free enough for us to boat through it.  No camp cook, we had to bring in all of our own food and fend for our selves.  All of the camp, its generators, the boat, heavy equipment to remove PCB contaminated soil from a Cold War era landfill was cat trained in during the winter over the sea ice then parked until we could fly into it for summer field work.  Overland transportation by cat train isnt allowed across the tundra in ANWR during the winter.  Our contractors have to wait until the sea ice is thick enough before they travel from Deadhorse across the ice for a couple hundred miles before dropping off our gear.  Once at the site only one windshield of a track hoe wash smashed due to bears as their huge paw prints were all over the rig.  Our camp was set up on a gravel pad which was a remnant of a Cold War era DEW Line Site station, Novagapak, already demolished and cleaned up.  We had to utilize a small inflatable motor boat (like the one Jacques Cousteau used) to commute to/from the job site daily across part of the Beaufort Lagoon.  We saw tons of flowers only found in the Arctic tundra and lots of wildlife including numerous migrating water fowl, bearded seals, Snowey owls, Arctic or parka squirrels, and of course lots caribou.  The bugs were bad enough to cause the caribou to break out into running and fits which made them appear to be dancing at times.  Very funny looking!  We even had a Grizzly bear approach our camp until we all stood outside and started yelling to scare it away.  Our shower water was brackish water where the Kogotpak R entered the ocean, close to our job site.  All of our cooking and drinking water had to be cat trained or flown in.
We were very fortunate to have lots of great sunny weather with endless views all around us.  We always wanted the wind to blow as it would keep the bugs down.  Otherwise we were completely covered in Deet, or in my case just constantly swatting/donating blood as I refuse to wear deet and havent for 12 years.  On Aug 1st the weather changed as we were finishing up, then we were stuck for a few days before anyone to fly in to extract us.  We were low on fuel, food and drinking water anyways.

Attached are some pics from the trip, and a google earth link identifying where we were.

1st Cabin Trip with Ben at 9 months old

For the second week of July Deb, Ben and myself did a long wkd cabin trip to Beyers Lake, about 3 hrs north of Anchorage for two nights.  We used my raft as our ferry to haul all our gear across the lake to our rented state parks cabin.  This was Bens first time in a cabin.  Fortunately we had pretty good weather but not clear enough to see the peak of Denali from our cabin.  We did see a black bear from our cabin window.  We did a day hike around the lake pushing/carying Ben in his chariot where he was free of the bugs and could nap when he felt like it.  The first night he didnt sleep, thus we didnt either.  By 0400 he was able to sleep so we all slept late into the morning.  The second day Ben seemed more comfortable in his new surroundings.  New things to explore and try to put into his mouth.  The 2nd night I lit a fire in the wood stove and Ben was mezmorized into a calm sleep.  I think he was also warmer with the fire going.  I sweated all night on top of my sleeping bag.  After a rough start we had a great trip!

June 9 Halibut Fishing in Valdez Alaska

On June 8 Three of my co-workers and I left work and drove toward Valdez stopping at the Klutina R for some Sockeye (Red salmon) fishing.  Fortunately for us the reds were in so we were able to catch our limits  of reds  (3 fish) before continuing on to Valdez where we slept for about 5 hrs before meeting up with our skipper.  We took a 3 hr boat ride out by Hitchinbrook Island to fish for halibut.  Along the way we saw numerous rafts of sea otters, pods of Orca whales and floating debris possibly from Japans Tsunami over a yr ago.  The fishing was great,  we all caught halibut that was typically larger than anything I have ever caught from Homer, AK,  We each caught our limit of 2 and came home with over 40 lbs of halibut fillets.  We drove back to Anchorage late Sat PM with our double haul of fish.

July 4th hike to Rabbit Lake and day hike Rainbow/Potter rd trail w Ben

On July 4th Deb and I got a babysitter to watch Ben for a few hours while we hiked up to Rabbit Lake.  We were surprised to see the lake still mostly frozen.

A couple days later we took Ben with us for a walk along the Rainbow Trail which parallels the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm.  Ben loves being outside…..so far!