Monday, August 30, 2010
I apologize for not keeping up with my blog, friends. Once again, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to spending time on computers. I wanted to tell about some of the things I’ve been up to for the past month or so. The month of August was pretty quiet around Brooks Camp. The bears usually leave the Brooks River in August to find food elsewhere – berries on hillsides and salmon in smaller streams. So, I spent a lot of time missing the bears and awaiting their return. Now they are slowly trickling back in, and they are really big and fat now! They are also moving pretty slow – as slow as molasses. This is the time for them to eat as much as they can to fatten up for their winter hibernation. A few days ago, I was standing near the river, and I could hear some breathing not far from me in the dense willows. I had a feeling that it was a sleeping bear, so I radioed to my fellow ranger across the river to let him know that I was going to move away. Sure enough, a minute later, the sleeping bear woke up and popped out on the trail right where I was standing. I think this is how September will be – bears taking naps all over the place.
I have done some hikes in August. On my birthday, August 9, I was very lucky to wake up to a pretty nice day – weather wise, so I decided to climb Mt. LaGorce. LaGorce is a mountain just across Naknek Lake from Brooks Camp. I went with a co-worker named Greg. We climbed a very steep but fun rock slide to get to the summit, and when we were on the summit, the sun came out!! It was amazing because we had not seen direct sunlight in maybe two weeks or more. (This whole summer has been wet, cold, and cloudy) We were also awarded with some amazing views of parts of Katmai like the Savonoski River, Mt. Katolinat, and the Bay of Islands. Last weekend, I was very lucky to get to go on a three day backpacking trip to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes with another co-worker, Kent. We had a wonderful time. We hiked to Novarupta volcano which is the site of the 1912 eruption (the largest of the twentieth century). We climbed on top of the lava plug where over 6 cubic miles of ash, pumice, and liquid magma came shooting out June 6 – 9, 1912. Today, 98 years later, the lava plug is still steaming, and we were able to sit next to the steaming vents and warm up. We spent two nights camping in some huts built by the USGS – a research camp. It was very cozy. The huts provided great shelter. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is desolate and wild but beautiful and peaceful, and I had a great time there.
I also got to do some fly-fishing in August. I spent one day fly-fishing on Margot Creek, a lovely little creek about 10 miles from Brooks Camp. Greg taught me how to fly-fish, and he did an excellent job. I caught about 8 Arctic char, but I only took one home for dinner. I loved fly-fishing more than I thought I would. It was great fun. I also saw salmon spawning at Margot Creek which was very exciting. At one spot, I watched as a female sockeye dug her nest with her anal fin. As she did this, about three males were waiting in line behind her. One of them bashed or bit another male who was waiting. They can get pretty violent while waiting! It was awesome to watch.
Yesterday I got brave enough to jump into Naknek Lake! I’ve wanted to swim all summer, but I do not like cold water. Since our summer here has been so wet and cold, I’ve been way too big of a wimp to take the plunge. But yesterday, it was sunny, and I went kayaking. I got warm from paddling, so when I got home I got into my swimsuit and jumped in the lake. It was very cold! I stayed in for maybe 1:45 minutes. I felt wonderful when I got out.
We have also had a few tragedies here at Katmai in the last month. At the end of July, a hiker went missing while crossing one of the rivers in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. He was never found. Now, we have another four people missing. Three of our maintenance rangers were flying back from the coast of the park to King Salmon when their plane went missing. This happened on August 21, and they have still not been found! It is very sad. Please pray for them and their families. Thanks.
Well I’m sorry to end on a sad note. Again, I am sorry for not keeping up with my blog.