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> Anchorage and Bears!!!
Amy_Clapp
post Jul 9 2005, 09:43 PM
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Well, I’m sitting here in the Craig Air “lounge” (with four lazy-boys) in Bethel, Alaska, waiting for our clearance to fly to Pilot Station. We’ve been here since 8:30 this morning; the cloud ceiling is too low as is the visibility to safely make the trip. We were hoping that by noon it would clear enough to make the flight, but it is 1:05 p.m. and we’re still reclined. I do have to admit that it is a pretty comfortable lounging area with enough action happening to keep us relatively entertained while we wait. There have been several times this morning that I have felt like I am in a T.V. show, with different characters coming in and out. To fully understand the experience, you would have to know that planes here in Bethel are more like buses or taxi cabs. There was a family just in here who were flying to a town that is 6 miles away, but flying is the only way to get there. Craig Air is the outfit we are flying with, and they mostly have six seat Cessenas. Their biggest business is flying school sports teams around to play their games. That is sort of weird for me to think about, the sports team hopping in five different airplanes to get to their afternoon basketball game, but that really is the way things work here.

So, I haven’t checked in on the web page for a few days. We spent all day July 4th flying from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, in Canada all the way to Seattle and then fly all the way back up to Anchorage. It was a long day of traveling, and there is no doubt that this expedition this summer has involved a lot of traveling, which is part of what science research work seems to be all about—especially in remote places like the Arctic. I think we are on our 6th travel day out of 13 days in the field.

However, we did have a day in Anchorage to catch our breath, and it was a nice and exciting break. We had a true Alaskan adventure, and one that many fisherman (including my dad and good friend John) would be mighty jealous of. We were able to go fishing for King Salmon at a place called Peter’s Creek. It is a river that runs into a much bigger river that comes off one of the major glaciers in the Alaskan Range (See Arctic Picture #4). I didn’t actually fish, but had a ton of fun watching the other fisherman. They were catching some huge fish—45 pounds….unbelievable, I could barely even hold it up!! However, the real fun??? of the day started on our way home. We had to have a jeep driver pick us up at the river and drive us to our float plane (yes, Max’s family has a friend who is a pilot who flew us out to this river). We were supposed to get picked up at 7:00 p.m., but we had caught our limit and it was about 5:30 p.m. so we were able to call the driver and see if he could pick us up early at 6:00 p.m. He was able to come an hour early, which as you will find out was very lucky!!!

We had to cross the river to get from where we were fishing to our pick up spot, which was an adventure itself as although I had waders that would have kept me dry, my legs just weren’t long enough, so I managed to get soaked!! It was a beautiful 75 degree day so that was okay. But, anyway, on the way home because we had the big fish, Max crossed with the fish, put them down and then went back across to get some other gear. As Max was making the return trip I made my way across and then I was standing with the fish and Ken (Max’s friend) and Max yelled to us that there was a big old bear about 200 yards upstream. I immediately went into panic mode, and so when Ken figured we should take the fish up the path to the path where the jeep would pick us up and I wasn’t going to leave his side, since he had the gun strapped to his hip. Well, Max made it across (he just thought it was cool that he saw a bear) and we were all up in this field next to some wooded areas that led down to the river and I was just wishing the Jeep would show up—I was on high alert to say the least—but I was relatively calm at this point.

Well maybe about five minutes later, as Ken and Max were looking towards the river trying to spot the bear, I was scanning the other directions, and good thing I was, because there was the bear, in the field about 100 feet away. I yelled bear, and we all saw it, and it saw us and sort of ran through the field, not necessarily away from us but at least out of our view. At this point, I started thinking to myself “So, this is what it feels like before you get eaten by a bear,” as I felt certain, the bear had smelled our fish. At this point we all stood together to look bigger and just waited for the Jeep to show up. I would clap and yell “Here Bear” probably just to make myself feel better and we moved the fish away from us. About four minutes later, I heard the Jeep coming and my heart mellowed out a little bit, but it wasn’t until we were back at the float plane and in the air that I was able to completely calm down. I will admit, now that it is over and all is well, it was a pretty cool thing to experience!! And, that night for dinner we had some of the best salmon I have ever eaten in my life—YUM!

So, we are going to be in Pilot Station for 5 days, two of them we will be sampling and the other days we are hoping to connect to the community like we did in Tsiigehtchic. I have already gotten to know the head of the Tribal Council, so hopefully that will help us make some of the contacts that we hope to make. It may be difficult to post journals, but we’ll see. We may just put the satellite phone to work!!!
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Amy_Clapp
post Jul 10 2005, 07:22 PM
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Sorry Folks,
I was having difficulty posting pictures yesterday. Here are some of the pictures that go along with the journal entry

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Amy Lounging at Craig Air waiting for the clouds to lift so we could get to Pilot Station

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Max Lounging at Craig Air too!!!!


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There were big fish at Peter's Creek!!!

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The Float Plane that took us in fishing

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Some of the other fish...

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Crossing the River Right Before Max Saw the Bear.....my legs weren't long enough and I got drenched!!!!

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Ken getting his gun ready---although I am very glad we didn't have to use it, I am also very glad that we had it--just in case things didn't work out as well as they did....
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Ute_Kaden
post Jul 11 2005, 06:08 PM
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Hi Amy and Max,
I enjoy your stories and photos very much. Great job. The bear one was very interesting. I am packing my stuff and going to fly to Anchorage on July 14.
Keep up the good work.
Ute
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Tom_Crumrine
post Jul 14 2005, 03:25 PM
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Amy,

Sounds like you are having some great adventures. Your story made me think of how frightened I was every time I would cross a willow filled river. We always made tons of noise but had that thought of what would we really do if we saw a bear.

Take care,

Tom
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Robert_Oddo
post Jul 16 2005, 07:39 AM
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Amy,
Wow, enjoyed reading the bear stories. We just finished bear training up here in Svalbard. You have to be much more prepared when going out in the field than back in New England. Good luck.
Bob
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