Into the Wilderness!
Journal Entry 2: Thursday, June 26th, 2008, 11:00pm
UNNAMED LAKE, BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA– We made it into the wilderness yesterday!
Mike Hink of the National Park Service in Kotzebue loaded us all up, and we were promptly confronted with a dead battery in the Cessna 185 float plane. It was one of many logistical hurdles common to these trips, but it was readily solved by the pilot, and we were soon airborne.
Partway into the flight we realized that the banjo star of our mediocre bluegrass band in Fairbanks was a flying friend of Mike’s from his days in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta. Hundreds of miles and zero degrees of separation is usually how it goes up here in the Last Frontier.
Mike put us down on a slender lake with incredible views.
Lisa stepped off the back of the floats onto what appeared to be shallow reeds, but was, in fact, deep goose poop. Welcome to the Arctic! But she wouldn’t let the boot-topping spoil her enthusiasm, nor mine. We portaged the gear and broke what camp we had before Greta and Mark arrived in the second load. As they came in for the landing, a moose swam into the middle of the narrow lake, directly across their landing path. They narrowly missed it, but Mike dismissed it as ordinary.
We celebrated our entrance into the wilderness and explored locally, since our science gear was to follow in the third flight. I stumbled upon a paleoman cache on a nearby plateau, and that made my day.
Oh yeah, and we got eaten alive by mosquitoes, until today’s final load of science and camping gear brought a screen tent, and sweet salvation from the bugs! A dream in the Arctic has a strong breeze, because without it, swarms of mosquitoes obscure your vision and drive you nuts.
We enjoyed the strong breeze for moments today, as we walked through protocols and divided science gear amongst us. Tomorrow, our commute to work is a 3-hr hike to the sample locations, and then the fun begins!