I’m Only Happy When It Rains…. (Not)

Lauren trooping out over the muskeg at Pup Lake.
Lauren trooping out over the muskeg at Pup Lake.

Well, we’ve had a spell of dreary weather out here–which makes the job no more difficult, just slightly less gleeful and photogenic. It started on Tuesday. Down in Point MacKenzie the sky was cloudless and bright and all a frolicking pair of stickleback seekers could want. However, as we headed north toward the Meadow Lakes an ominous, inauspiciously dark blanket of indigo was heading quickly toward us from Hatcher Pass. I’ll tell you, there’s nothing like the not-so-distant rumbling of thunder to motivate a field crew to push the limits of efficiency.

Since then the weather has been of a more mundane variety–drizzling, passing showers, shades of grey. Rachel and I stopped in at the Palmer office of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (it’s not wildlife here, it’s game) on Wednesday to introduce ourselves to Dave Rutz, the local area biologist in charge of the Mat-Su. The new person in charge of our permits is adamant about constant communication between researchers and the local area biologists, so instead of just calling the poor fellow constantly I figured I’d stop in and say hello–THEN call the poor fellow constantly. Dr. David Heins of the Tulane stickleback lab arrived Thursday night and has been in contact with us–we’ve negotiated communal breakfasting and had a tête-à-tête over collecting locations. As I understand it, Dave has been sampling out here for as long as Dr. John Baker and nearly as long as Dr. Mike Bell–although his focus is more on the parasites that affect stickleback, namely Schistocephalus. (Note from Rachel: I will have an extensive post on this parasite later.)

Bad weather tends to cause scientists to... act strangely.
Bad weather tends to cause scientists to… act strangely.


Dave will be heading down south to the Kenai Peninsula at the beginning of next week, whereas Rachel and I will head north to Willow on our way to Talkeetna. Once we’ve camped up there for a few days we’ll cross paths with Dr. Heins on our way down the Kenai to camp another few days and make our own collections at the lakes he won’t be visiting. Perhaps we’ll be able to meet up with him in Girdwood to chat over a dinner plate-sized snickerdoodle. But let’s be honest, I’ll have one either way.