Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cold Mountain!

The other day we hiked Dumpling mountain in order to get a lay of the land and prepare for our guided hikes up the mountain to the first over look. Look closely at these pictures and remember that it is still the middle of May! There were points on our hike where we had to cross large patches of snow. Since the temperatures have been rising the snow has become softer and we had to wade through waist high snow when it didn’t support our wait. Normally our trips will only go up to the overlook, but the group went up to Lupin point and some of us even summited the mountain. Tim Chu and myself made a tiny snowman to place in our pictures. It is easy for me to say that I have a great view near the edge! This last picture brings to mind something I have heard at many National Parks...”We may not live in the best houses, but no one has a bigger back yard!”

Damn that water is cold!

In order to use a boat I under went Motorboat Operator Certification Class (MOCC). We had to do obstacle courses, pinpoint turning, boat safety, obstacle avoidance, and a 100 yard swim to experience the cold water. Here is where I did my 100 yard swim after wading out 50 yards. We measured the temperature of the water and it came back as a nice and warm 32.5 degrees. Needless to say it was very cold and by the end your hands barely function, which is not fun when you have to enter a boat under your own power that has a free board (amount of boat out of water) of three feet. My roommate had mild hypothermia after the swim. The funny thing is we swam in the water 4 days earlier to celebrate one of the interpreters’, Tim Chu, graduation that he was missing.

Lions, and Tigers...Nope, but BEARS oh my!

Generally brown bears do not show up around Brooks camp til late May. However, since the first full day we have been graced by the presence of three skinny subadults. The largest of the three subadults is staying to himself while a slightly smaller subadult is being shadowed my another subadult that is about half his size. All three of the subadults have been behaving strangely in our minds. They have been digging at the point of the sandbar just about every day we have been in camp. Some of us took it upon ourselves to conduct a careful investigation (or we checked out the hole when the bears were gone). We concluded that they must be digging for the frozen residue of dead salmon that had drifted down river, been buried under the sand, and frozen until may (in other words it smelled badly of fish). Since we had a bear orientation when we arrived, which is mandatory for all who visit Brooks camp, we decide we should have a look around our new home. We traveled over the river, through the woods, and up onto the Falls platform. As you can see in the picture there are no bears or salmon as of yet, but when mid-June arrives the falls will be packed with jumping “happy” salmon and tons of bears.

I appologize if I don't have pictures b/c I am having trouble transfering them.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What's that?

As you can see from my previous post, most everything is still covered under snow and ice. Surely with conditions such as this we must be the only living things at Brooks Camp. However upon arriving in the "otter" (pic below), which is a type of float plane, my first steps on land almost covered a track (pic to right). Of course we all got excited because this meant that a bear was out of its den early. Slowly after looking around for several minutes we helped unload the plane and went to take a look at our new surroundings.

Periodically we were pulled away from our wanderings and unpacking to help unload other planes that were filled with people and the rest of our gear. In reality it took 4 trips with various numbers of people to get most of our gear out to camp. In some cases gear did not arrive for several days. Tomorrow would begin our education on the park...just what I need more school. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Have plane will travel (to Katmai NP)

I survived my confusing crisscrossing of the country to finally land in King Salmon, Alaska on Sunday the 8th. My first few days landed me in a classroom setting so I could begin to learn a fraction of the knowledge that visitors to the park expect me to be an expert in when they arrive. The weather has been beautiful here and cold like I like it. Normally we would have flown out to Brooks Camp on Monday, but the lake was still iced over. After learning many fun ways to DIE in a plane we practiced exiting a plane that had crashed in the water. Finally we loaded up our gear on Friday and off we flew over 30 miles of mostly frozen lakes to Brooks Camp.