One Long Day
What a day. Some of the days on the Kenai were long, but this day may have taken that cake for Lauren and me. I suppose it’s partially our fault for starting later than normal due to running errands, etc. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We begin at the beginning. After a long night of playing cards and chilling out in the main unit, we took our time getting going in the morning, lolling about the kitchen while we ate our cereal and packed our lunches for the day. Today, Matt, Anna, and Jeff were only working in the lab a few blocks away from the main unit, so the fearsome “deathsome” effectively had two cars at their disposal. Jana and Sophie were taking the beloved Pewter out for the day, looking forward to a productive day of testing four lakes. Lauren and I were to gain control of the Forester, who quickly became known as “Sean Connery” due to the actor being in a movie called “Finding Forrester.” We divided our equipment, and each headed our separate ways.
I heard at dinner tonight that Jana and Sophie had an interesting time of it. Their potential four lakes turned into two perfectly tested lakes. The weather had turned somewhat stormy and windy for them at the end of the second lake so they decided to lay off and call it quits before getting drenched. Not counting the hour-long nap they took in the middle of the day! Since it was just the two of them for the first time, they had to get used to taking the canoe off and putting it back on pewter’s roof rack without additional muscle support. And while reaching for something in the van, Sophie twisted her shoulder and didn’t want to risk further injuring it for awhile, so the two of them decided to rest for a few minutes while parked at the public access to Rocky Lake. An hour later…
Also heard that Matt, Anna, and Jeff had an uneventful day in the lab, making crosses and being generally productive.
Lauren and I, on the other hand, had a very eventful day indeed. When we left the unit in the morning, we headed over to the lab to get Matt’s keys so we could get into his room and get hold of the power inverter for the car so I could possibly plug my laptop in and write while we drove. We picked him up because he’d also managed to forget his own charger. The power inverter didn’t work, but at least Matt got his charger. Next, we took a drive over to Frank von Hippel’s lab to pick up the hard drive Lauren’s father mailed to her while we were all still out on the Kenai. No dice. So we drove off to find a gas station (which still hurts, even though we are used to the above-four-dollars-a-gallon prices)
Zoo store to replace the temperature probe I managed to lose at Lynda Lake about a week ago. Ran over to the Kaladi Brothers coffee shop and picked up a new coffee mug for Rich King to replace one he’d lost. Lauren is an excellent friend. Drove off to the Beverly Lake area and picked up all the traps thrown on the previous day at Kalmbach, Bruce, Cloudy, and Seymour Lakes. We left our tenth trap next to the water at Bruce Lake and had to walk all the way back down the trail to get it back again. Also, come to find out that the man at Seymour Lake who told us we’d better be Republicans or he wouldn’t let us trap on his property is also a bear hunter. He was loading up his float plane with equipment as we gladly took our leave. There was another errand run to Fred Meyer to pick up supplies for a huge map of the Mat-Su that Lauren is making for us to be better organized in our trapping plans. After this, we drove off looking for Spring Creek which we found easily enough. Also easy to trap, but incredibly buggy. We were happy to jump back in the car and crank the A/C.
Headed over to Walby Lake to get GPS coordinates we’d managed to forget not one, but two trips in a row. And managed to find some very nice people off Trunk Road who let us trap off their property at Wasilla Creek. Three kids. All talkative. And a very large, friendly dog who was content enough to follow us all over the yard while we looked for likely places to catch fish. Run to the storage unit to get more traps for Matt. Some of our traps are in need of repair though, so quick change of plans! No trapping at Lucille Creek today, we’d save those traps for Matt. Instead, we ran off down the road to drop our last traps at Knik Lake and then Goose Creek (this was our creek dropping day, if one couldn’t tell). Took a lovely ride down Burma Road which is very long and hilly and entirely made of dirt. Roller coaster ride of a road. It was great fun. Lots of trees chopped down on the roadside, however, where last year there was forest. We speculated on this for some time, and think maybe it’s because the spruce trees are sick and dying. Not sure. Something to keep an eye out for. Burma Road led us to our final stop of the day. Yesterday, Matt, Anna, and Jeff dropped twenty traps at Whale Lake in order to pull a live collection of juveniles today for behavior testing, as well as a collection of about 300 other fish for Mike Bell, another stickleback researcher spending the summer on UAA campus.
Whale Lake is an adventure just to get to. You park across the highway, hike straight up the hill of an ATV trail, and then walk across quite a stretch of muskeg. Waders required! At this point of the day, the storm clouds that chased Jana and Sophie away were threatening Whale. Lauren and I steeled ourselves, grabbed a cooler and a jar for the fish, and made the hike in. Near the end of counting the fish for Mike Bell, it began to sprinkle. And we realized we had only pulled 19 of the 20 traps. We went scouting for the 20th (which Lauren found in a corner) and then contemplated how to pack twenty traps plus a cooler full of water and live fish back out from the lake. We didn’t want to make two trips, so I got the traps loaded on my shoulders and set off across the muskeg, Lauren attempting to tote the cooler behind me. This ended in me putting ten of the traps down halfway across the muskeg, walking ten out to the trail, then coming back for the others which Lauren and I split between us, held under one arm, and used the other to carry the cooler between us. Once at the trail, we added the other traps so that we each held ten, plus the cooler still between us. Those juvie fish went for a ride! We had to put everything down only twice because we are monsters made of steel. Team Alpha stands for awesome. Made it all the way back to the car, and got into Anchorage again around 10:30.