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“Here Comes the Rain Again”

Journal Entry 15: Tuesday, August 5, 2008

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA– We awoke this morning to rain, wind, and 35? F temperatures. Immediately the remaining sampling lost most of its appeal, but we inhaled our coffee and oatmeal and staggered forth through the wet brush and tussock tundra. Though we are weary of the repetitive sampling, the ideas and importance of vegetation change in the arctic are still alive and inspiring.

For example, certain vegetation communities are more apt than others to foster alder shrub seedlings, and there is agreement between our observations on the ground and the sites identified as expanding or stagnant using the photos. This is a pattern we’ve observed, or moreso absorbed unavoidably, by traversing across and spending time in the various shrub communities. It is a visceral mode of learning that relies on observation and experience to reveal patterns and correlations, not unlike the development of indigenous knowledge. In that sense, I think all of us on the trip are getting a little flavor of indigenous knowledge by being out here and basing critical logistical decisions on wilderness properties like weather patterns, game migration routes, and vegetation patterns, much as the Inupiat have done for thousands of years. It strikes me that the Inupiat dependence on the landscape (and seascape) for survival fostered a close relationship between man and landscape, one that relied primarily on a catalogue of observed patterns.

Two bull caribou grazing, and several more lying down in the background.
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