Working On An Island For 6 Days in Alaska
Wow, the past 6 days were unbelievable! We were originally scheduled to leave Monday morning but the weather did not clear up in time for the helicopter to fly us out to our work site. Luckily the following day had clear blue skies in the forecast.
After the helicopter made several hauling our equipment we set up camp. We placed tarps above and below our tents to keep dry. Our camp site was located on a muskeg which meant the floor was always wet!
Once our camp was set up we went straight to work. We hiked down to our canyon site, hiking down a muddy trail and crossing the river. Our first task was to fill sand bags to prevent water from entering the area we were working in. We all took turns shoveling gravel and carrying sand bags!
Once we re-directed the water from our site we were ready to start maintenance on the fish pass. The fish pass allows salmon to swim up the stream from the ocean to the lake where they historically were unable to do so allowing them to spawn in a new area.
We all worked really hard and took turns doing different jobs such as:
- shoveling gravel out of pools
- removing wood and rocks from the passage
- drilling holes in rocks that needed to be broken down to extend the fish pass entrance
- hammering rocks
- carrying cement bags
- mixing cement
- dumping cement
- cutting plywood
- drilling plywood together to make new covers for the pools
- drilling plywood to make forms for the cement to set in
When all our work was complete we had some time to have fun too!
I tried shooting an arrow from a recurved bow for the first time.. I definitely need more practice! I forgot to mention the BUGS! We all had to wear bug nets during our trip. We had mosquitos, black flies/white socks, and no-see-ums/midges all around us 24.7! The mosquitos were not as bad as the black flies and noseeums. Noseeumes were so tiny but they had quite a painful bite. Thankfully our clothes and head nets kept us safe most of them time!
After dinner we played with my shorebird cards with gold fish as tokens.
We also went exploring!
I really enjoyed exploring the forest, searching for birds, and plants! For my birthday my roommate gave me a wildflower field guide from the Alaska region which I take with me everywhere I go! IDing and learning different uses for plants is something I see myself continuing to do throughout my life. I’m also enthusiastically anticipating the berry season! There are so many wild strawberries, nagoonberries, and salmonberry flowers blooming that I’ve identified and should be ready for berry picking late June-early July! Of course, its always good to go with an experienced berry-picker just to be safe!
The image above is an english sundew (Drosera anglica)! It grows in wet meadows and is a parasitic plant that feeds on those oh so abundant bugs. My first encounter with a wild parasitic plant (I was pretty excited about it)!
On the right is a shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum). They were everywhere around camp and in the meadows.
On our last day at camp we packed up all of our gear and carried everything to Fish Lake where we were being picked up by a float plane!
The view was amazing of the island we called home for 6 days! I was pretty excited to have a bird’s eye view flying back to Cordova! We flew over my old study sites where I surveys shorebirds. This is one of the three sites I surveyed called 3 Mile Bay!
Over all my field camp experience was incredible. It was a lot of hard work, but there was a lot of great support from the crew I was working with. We all took care of each other. Whether it meant swatting mosquitoes and bugs away from each other or making sure we all took breaks. My next field experience will be in a week with the wildlife crew out on the Copper River Delta! We will be working on nest island maintenance for Dusky Canada geese!