Category Archives: North Slope

Umiat Alaska Site Vist June

Here are some pics from an annual site visit I have to make to inspect a landfill site to see if any hazardous debris erodes out of the landfill from spring melt.  Was fortunate to have great weather.  The Colville R is the largest river on the north slope of AK.  I’ve always wanted float it.  Perhaps some day!  The cliffs are famous for woolly mammoth bones and tusks eroding out in the open.

Nuiqsut and Barrow

In mid-late August I had to travel north again to the village of Nuiqsut for a meeting and to inspect an old landfill site upstream of Nui on the Colville River.  Our guide in Nuiqsut was a village elder, who is also a whaling captin.  The villagers were prepping for their whaling season which started the next week.  We got to see a lot of their traditional whaling equipment.  Captin Edward displayed his new hand made harpoon.  From Nui I flew across the N Slope to Barrow where I had an afternoon to kill waiting for my flight bck to Anchorage.  I decided to play tourist and do some window shopping for native crafts.  The locals make all kinds of earrings from fossilized mammoth bones and whale parts.

Coastal Trail Biking and Work Trip to Umiat

In late July we spent an afternoon biking the Coastal Trail in Anchorage from one end to the other, then back.  In mid August I had to make a trip to the north slope of Alaska.  I flew over the Alaska Range on my way to/from Umiat and was treated to fantastic views.  Here are some of those views.

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.

Early April from Umiat

Here are some of my last pictures from our Umiat cleanup site.  More lights, a fox that was trapped by natives and left in the trap for 3-4 days before the natives returned to kill it, and some of the ground penetrating radar equipment used to determine the extent of burried metal debris which included an unknown number of PCB containing transformers.  The field season ended last week.  More work is anticipated for a future winter, when access to this area is most practical.

Craig

Early April from Umiat

Here are some of my last pictures from our Umiat cleanup site.  More lights, a fox that was trapped by natives and left in the trap for 3-4 days before the natives returned to kill it, and some of the ground penetrating radar equipment used to determine the extent of buried metal debris which included an unknown number of PCB containing transformers.  The field season ended last week.  More work is anticipated for a future winter, when access to this area is most practical.

Umiat No. 5 More Lights

I saw the most incredible display of N. lights last night.  Of course it comes with a price.  I’m dragging this AM.  I saw a whole spectrum of colors flickering and spiraling across the sky in rapid movement.  Truly awesome!!  I captured some of the reds and violets in some of my photos.  I had to just stop and stare in amazement as I had never seen it like last night.  The brilliant colors flickering across the entire sky lasted just a few minutes.  Last night was the highlight for the trip-funwise.  Definitely one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had!
Enjoy,
CS

Pics from the last 24 Hrs Here in Umiat

Here are some shots from the last 24 hours here in Umiat, Alaska.

I spent some time chasing American foxes, literally.  Its -35 F here this morning.  Another day of blue skies and sunshine!