Cordova. Is. Beautiful. On day one I saw my first moose, a bald eagle perched about 10 feet away from me, and more otters than I could count. My third day here I saw two more moose, about 15 bald eagles, and my first glacier, Sheridan Glacier. I just about cried…
The past two weeks have been exciting, exciting and exhausting. Training in San Diego was such a great way to ease all of the Celebrate Shorebirds interns into their roles as Environment for the Americas representatives in the conservation community. It felt amazing to be surrounded by other Latinos who are all equally as passionate about conservation as I am. We helped and supported each other, learned together, and goofed off together. A lot of the interns, including myself, are at sites that are far away from their families and friends. Becoming a little community of interns before we all shipped off made me feel less alone because we were all embarking on similar quests. Basically, I’m excited for my buds, Denisse at Yaquina Head, Janelle in Tongass, Christian and Jean on the Pacific Flyway, Mandy in D.C., Aileen at EFTA headquarters, Tayler, Eddy and Stephan at Blanca Wetlands, Katelyn and Anita in San Diego, Ariana at Elkhorn Slough, and Joyce in Los Angeles. They’re all going to kick butt.
On my way to Cordova, I had a three hour layover in Anchorage, Alaska. Jimena, the 2015 Chugach intern was kind enough to meet me there. She’s from L.A. but is currently working at the Chugach U.S. Forest Service offices in Anchorage. We chatted about her experiences in Cordova and all the cool people I’d be working with this summer. She’s super rad. Once in Cordova, I was greeted by Nick Docken, a wildlife technician for the U.S. Forest Service. He is an upstanding guy and one a great outdoorsman. Nick showed me around town and made sure I made it safely to the bunkhouse. My bunkhouse mate, Mariah, who also works for the U.S. Forest Service, is on detail here in Cordova. She normally lives in a wall tent with no electricity (and she likes it that way). It’s inspiring to see such a strong, successful woman like Mariah in the conservation field.
This past Sunday, Mariah and I went exploring down Copper River Highway. We got as far as the Copper River before the snow stopped us. We got out at the bridge over the river to take look around. The wind was insane! It dragged snow along the river, over the highway and continued on. It looked like a river of rushing snow or a stampede of wild horses. I had never seen anything like it. When our hands were sufficiently frozen, we hopped into the car and doubled back to Haystack Trail. Haystack is a rock formation carved out by an ancient glacier. The trail was quiet and covered in mosses. We felt like we were in a Lord of the Rings movie, it was magical. Mosses thrive in this region because it is actually a temperate rainforest habitat which can be surprising to some people, it’s not something many would expect.
On one of our stops along the highway, there were hundreds of gulls soaring and resting in a pond, possibly stragglers trying to take advantage of the recent common murre die-off. Here, we also saw an immature bald eagle at the very top of a tree, drying off its wings in the sun. It looked wild and ravaged, but strong. It was backlit by blazing sun through hazy clouds, a rising spirit surrounded by smoke. The image is burned into my memory. This place is amazing.