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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leaving, On a float plane. .. .

Tomorrow, I'm off to the King Salmon River on the other side of the Alaska Peninsula with Jill L and Mark R to check out an archaeological site for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The site is a big 'Norton' village site (around 2000 years old). This year we plan on mapping and testing the site, and next year we will hopefully excavate a house or two. It ought to be exciting.

But first we got to get there. That's one long float plane flight. Basically, it's like flying to Anchorage in a de Havilland Beaver float plane. Not the fastest plane in the world but super reliable and it can land on and take off of the tiniest of ponds while carrying the heaviest of loads. We will be flying across Shelikof Strait and through the Becharof Lake pass to the other side of the Peninsula. We should be in the air for more than 2 hours.

The best thing about flying a float plane straight from Kodiak is that we do not have to go through Anchorage. We can fly directly to the site and then right back to Kodiak. We take the artifacts and samples that we find directly from the float plane dock to the Museum. No dealing with airport security, getting all our gear onto a commercial flight, or chartering a float plane from someone we do not know in King Salmon to get to the site. We get to fly with Rolan of Seahawk air. He flew us to Karluk Lake last week. He flew us all the way to Chirikof Island a few years ago. This flight will be the longest yet -but familiarity lends security. Nothing like flying with one of the best! Patrick

Kodiak Pan from 1949

Here is an interesting panoramic view of Kodiak from Near Island taken in 1949. I liked it enough to pay the 25 dollar 'non-profit online exhibition use fee'. I've never done that before! This is the same image that is framed and on the wall at the Baranov Museum. Alice Ryser, the Baranov archivist, helped me track it down. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas owns the image, and it appears they are pretty protective of it. If you are interested in your own copy call them at 512 471 3057 and ask for Debbie Smith. The image is from the Goldbeck collection and is the 'bird's eye view of Kodiak' (the particular image is 'Goldbeck 81419491').

Looking at the photo you realize how much the 1964 Earthquake and the subsequent urban 'renewal' changed Kodiak. I think it is unfortunate that the earthquake occurred in the 1960s just when America was in the process of destroying small towns and all the quaint neighborhoods in our big cities. I happen to believe the architecture of the late 1960s and 1970s is a low point. Since the late 1980s I think American city planners have gotten a lot better. We now try to restore waterfronts and neighborhoods. Think Camden Yards ballbark, the North End in Boston, the waterfront in Pittsburg etc. Patrick

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Karluk Survey Archaeology

The point of our trip to Karluk Lake and River last week was to find, map and date archaeological sites around the lake and on the river for the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and Koniag Inc - the landowners. The Alutiiq Museum has been surveying Kodiak's interior rivers and lakes for the last 7 years, and we have already completed surveys of the Ayakulik/Red, Olga Lakes, Akalura, Horsemarine, Sturgeon River, and Uganik Lake systems. Karluk Lake and River is the last major system we plan on surveying. During our surveys we have learned a great deal about how the prehistoric Alutiiq people utilized Kodiak's Interior through time.

The earliest interior sites that we've found date to 6300 years ago. Back then Alutiiq people used their sea mammal hunting gear to spear fish in the shallow rivers below lake outlets. They did not really focus on catching a lot of fish or even design new gear specifically for catching fish. All that changed around 4000 years ago when we start to find elaborate fish smoking structures at the outlets to the big lakes. The smoke processing structures indicate that the Alutiiq were starting to put away a lot more fish for the winter! Then around 1500 years ago there are suddenly many more camps on the lakes and upper sections of the river. We start to see huge seasonal villages of up to 100 houses at this time. It looks like they were still focusing on red and silver salmon, and catching them with nets in the shallow waters of the lakes. Finally around 600 years ago we start to see what we believe are year round villages on the banks of Kodiak's biggest rivers with weirs in front for catching fish, and seasonal fish camps up on the lakes.

While on survey we mostly walk around looking for old house depressions and/or distinctive site vegetation (see top two photos - old villages marked by intense vegetation along the bluffs above the Karluk River and Mark standing in a shallow house depression on the shore of Karluk Lake). We then dig test pits into the house pits and/or sites. We want to make sure they really are archaeological sites and also gather charcoal to radiocarbon date the sites. We generally try to dig in the middle of house depressions to find the hearth and the best concentration of charcoal. (see middle two photos: Mark and Aubrey taking notes and digging a test pit and a close up of the wall of one of our test pits - if you look closely you can see the old living surface in the house marked by the black charcoal and the thick roof sods above that were on the roof of the house. This house is probably about 2000 years old). Our final step at each site is to create a map of the site. We use a transit to make an accurate map of each site in relation to the landscape (see bottom photo).

This year we found a number of 1500 year old sites up on the lake but not nearby any of the creeks flowing into the lake. These sites were situated above pea gravel beaches. Back in Kodiak I learned that these shoals are where the late run red salmon spawn. The early run fish prefer to spawn in the feeder lake/creek systems on the lake. That's a cool discovery because it means Alutiiq people 1500 years ago were probably occupying those camps in October/November/December to catch the late run spawners. Another cool discovery was 4 5,000 year old sites all situated above shallow sections of a river. All in all, we found 24 new archaeological sites and mapped 244 house pits. Not bad for a 10 day survey.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bear Skulls

On Tuesday Mark and I took the 4 brown bear skulls that we found while on survey into the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)to get them officially registered. Legally, even if you just find a skull you still have to get it registered. John Crye of ADF&G measured each of the skull and gave each one a tag to certify that they had been registered. While there we also learned a lot of cool stuff about bear skulls and bear behavior.

We learned that the big skull I found was a very old and large sow. Her molars were very worn down and John estimates that she was 12 to 13 when she died. She measured around 24 1/2 which is very large for a sow. The cub skull that I found nearby (see bottom photo) was probably her cub and both were killed at the same time by a large boar. This would have happened late last fall while the cub and her sow were catching salmon at the nearby creek. The cub was about 10 months old. Other bears ate the two and scattered their bones about around a 100 yard area. This is a fairly typical occurrence and is the cause of death for most cubs. It is also why juvenile bears hang out around human camps. They know that big boars will stay away from human camps, and that the human camps offer protection.

Mark's big boar turned out to be HUGE. It measured 29 1/8 which would put it in the record book. It also displays the 'heart shaped' orbital arch that trophy bear hunters treasure and which is a famous characteristic of Karluk bears. It's why the Karluk Lake area is synonymous with trophy brown bear hunting. His bear was also a young bear when it died - only about 10 years old and the molars are not worn down. When Mark found this bear all its bones were in place and had not been scattered. We learned that other bears will not scavenge and eat a monster bear. Even in death, other bears want nothing to do with him. It's a respect thing.

John told us that bear cannibalism around Karluk lake is pretty high because there are so many strange bears coming to the area. The bears do not know each other as well - social skills are not quite what they should be! We found where a bear had been cached by another bear and later eaten (third photo). The bear had been covered with a pile of sticks and grass - you could still see the hole in the middle of the pile where the bear had lain. By the by, this is a very hairy find and you should immediately back off when you find such a cache because bears will defend it. This particular bear had been scattered over about a 1/2 mile. He/she obviously was not very well respected. Patrick

Suri Sighting at Crab Fest?

This week at Crab Fest, was Suri Cruise spotted at Crab Fest? Perhaps the Cruise's came in on the 'cruise' ship? No, it was Nora with her Suri-look-alike haircut. Suri and Nora are the same age and from the time they were both babies-they have shared similar features-lots of hair as babies and now short brunette bob haircuts.

Over the weekend Nora had her first formal haircut at Hairmasters. Song, the hairstylist, was fabulous with her. Nora's hair was quite knotted on the back and she patiently combed part of it out before cutting Nora's hair into a bob. Song kept asking Nora to look down, so she could cut the back part of her hair. Nora did it a few times, then didn't comply as well. Song then started saying, "Nora-LOOK DOWN or your hair will be ugly. You don't want to look ugly, do you?". I had to hold back from laughing. I don't think Nora even full grasps the concept of looking ugly. Or maybe she does. Who knows. Its definitely not a phrase I've used with her.

We made it down to Crab Fest one time over the weekend-and we happened to hit it at a time when it wasn't raining. Yeah! Patrick had a plate of crab, which he shared with Nora. I had a halibut taco and crab sandwich and Mark and Aubrey consumed several King Crab sandwiches. On our way out we got each kid a mini blow up Dora-doll-on-a-stick. Very well worth the $10 total. Brought several hours of no-muss, no-fuss entertainment for the kiddies.

Nora modeling her summer sunglasses, which she ABSOLUTELY loves! And they stay on her head!

In the Crab Fest photo, Nora's mouth is full with Crab Meat. She is a king crab lover, like her dad (and mom)!!

Nora looks less than thrilled during her haircut. She sat on my lap for the ordeal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Karluk Lake Camp Life

Camp life while on survey is generally pretty good. We have a huge Kifaru teepee where we hang out in the evenings or when it is raining, and best of all it comes equipped with a wood stove. Pretty amazing that the teepee and wood stove weigh less than 15 pounds. Nothing like a wood stove to maintain camp moral!

This year we used the wood stove to cook more than we have in the past - mostly to heat water. But we found that it also worked great for toasting corn tortillas. Add a little old bay, baby bell cheese, oil and 'big boy' beef stick and you got a meal. It's funny but when you use a stove you suddenly have new eyes for wood opportunities. Most people will tell you that there are no trees on Kodiak's South end. I know that there are plenty of alder, willow, black birch and cottonwood trees. And cottonwood and willow are surprisingly under rated as fire wood. Anything dry works great.

Sometimes in the evenings we caught a few fish. Not sure if this one pictured is an arctic char or dolly varden trout. Both species make Karluk Lake their home, and both make great eating! Patrick

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Bears

Just a few more bear photos to illustrate my earlier post. In the top photo a bear checks us out after we have invaded his personal space bubble. We were trying to drive him off of the archaeological site so that we could map it. He did not move and we backed off. Note the bear enhanced erosion. The second photo shows the same bear and our camp in the distance. Third photo is of Mark posing in bear beds at the front of an archaeological site. Those beds are deep and have destroyed a significant portion of the archaeological site. Finally, the bottom photo is of Aubrey and Rose digging a test pit while the bears sleep in the distance. Patrick

After re-reading this post a few hours later, I feel a clarification of how we tried to drive the bears off of the site is in order. Basically we did it in a very low key way. No cracker shells or even yelling. We walked up above and upwind of the bears so that they could see us (This is when I took the picture of the bear with the camp behind him). We then walked as a group towards the bears on the site. And then when they did not immediately leave we backed off and left the sites to the bears. I had a feeling that after we had pushed the issue a bit the bears would leave on their own - and they did. We sort of drove the bears off 'bear style' - we made our wishes known and they left the site in their own sweet time with their honor intact. Patrick

Bears and Archaeological Sites

Immediately after landing at Karluk Lake we saw a bear close by watching us unload the plane. He seemed unconcerned and wandered down the beach and went for a swim while we watched. Rolan, the float plane pilot quiped, 'that's your friendly neighborhood bear - you'll have no problems with him'. So we joined the neighborhood - a neighborhood with a high quotient of bears. No problem.

We had bears around both of our camps. In our neighborhood bears wandered by camp on a regular basis (see second from bottom photo). We'd dig test pits with bears sleeping 80 meters away. But as long as we followed the neighborhood rules and kept a 60 meter bubble of personal space, the bears tolerated/ignored us. Of course we did not see the really big bears (in the top photo Mark is holding the skull of a really big bear that he found). The big bears stay away from people and the places they frequent. I think the bears we had around camp are used to people coming to the lake to view bears. It got interesting when we tried to push the bears off of an archaeological site so that we could map it. They did not want to move and we had to back off. But I think they got the idea - they departed during the night with their honor intact. We mapped the site the next day.

The bears are destroying the local archaeological sites - they are the number one destructive agent to sites along our interior rivers. I've known this for a while, but on this trip I got to observe a bit more of their behavior and really get a handle about what they are up to. Basically, I think the lush vegetation and prime locations of archaeological sites attracts bears. Old village sites are generally located directly above the best fishing locations, and they are always covered with particularly lush vegetation due to their midden enhanced soil. We observed bears grazing greens on the sites and digging for forbs (see bottom photo). We also observed bears digging big bear beds in places where they could watch the river while they napped. Big bear trails up the front of sites have also enhanced erosion.

I have decided that bears damage sites in one of three ways. First there are the small holes and digs on the tops of sites. These are created by bears digging for food or just out of simple curiosity. Second there are the huge holes along the front edge of sites along the river or in other prime viewing locations. These holes are creating the most damage and on some of the sites the bears have literally obliterated all of the old housepit depressions. Finally bear trails and activity along the fronts of sites enhances erosion. I watched a bear run up the front of a site with a rooster tail of dirt falling down the slope behind him. It is worth noting that older sites that were once covered with lush vegetation a couple of hundred years ago do not exhibit old bear damage. I wonder if there were fewer bears back then or if the huge villages of people on the big rivers simply kept them away. Patrick

Note: we did have an electric fence up around our camp (you can see it if you look carefully in Mark Rusk's photo of Aubrey taking a photo of a bear). Also, we kept an immaculately clean camp. No leftovers and trash kept to a minimum. No bears even tested our fence.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Karluk Lake Scenics

For the last 10 days I have been on an archaeological survey of Karluk Lake and River. We got back last night just in time for Crab Fest in the rain. Our survey was very successful - we found over 20 new sites and mapped a couple hundred housepits (more on what we found in another post). The scenery was stunning.

Here are a couple of the scenics from our trip. Top photo is of the mountains reflecting on a flat calm Karluk Lake. What a day to survey around the lake in a boat. The cottonwood and black birch trees on Karluk Lake get to be huge. I guess that's where the prehistoric Alutiiq got the timber to build their houses up on the Lake and down the river. Second photo is of our first camp near Thumb Creek. This year we brought a huge 12 man teepee and woodstove. Third photo is of more reflections on the lake near the outlet to Karluk Lake. It had snowed the evening before and there was still new snow on the mountain tops the next morning. Fourth photo is of our second camp at the outlet to Karluk Lake. It froze hard the night before and there was early morning fog. Finally the bottom photo is of Aubrey M and a plate of Arctic Char and nettles. We ate pretty well every evening - Aubrey obviously approves. Patrick

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Full Circle

Ahhh....Patrick and the crew come home tomorrow. What a busy 10 days it has been. The kids and I and dogs have all done ok.
(I even watered the plants once while Patrick was gone! No casualties!)

Today was a full day at work-complete with attending a birth at my lunch hour!! Then after work I picked up the kids, picked up some food and went to Baranof park. Met up with Mike/CeCe and Katie, Matt and kids. All the kids had a great time running around as us adults froze our tooshies off in the 40 something degree weather. What happened to summer!?
1 hour passed and I brought the kids home, then off to teach the last class of this session of the birthing series. Its hard to believe I"ve finished teaching two 8 week childbirth series already! It is so fun and each time I teach it, it is a little bit different. Out of the 8 moms at the first series, I was at 4 of the births! Cool, eh?! It is so rewarding to see the couples from the beginning of their birth journey in childbirth class to the final experience of going through labor and birth. Full Circle. As I've said in a prior post, I'm so proud of all the moms and partners I work with.

Summer dig season is in full steam-Patrick is home for less than a week then leaves for another dig near King Salmon. It sure is easier now to have him leave then when Stuey was a baby. Mary Jane came over one night and kept me company, Casey another. I find the mornings tough-trying to get everyone out the door in one piece. I can't imagine how families with any sort of commute do it! I have a hard enough time with our little 5 minute commute making it to work on time.

I"m needing to work exercise time into my schedule. Since I stopped teaching spinning, I"ve been delinquent in fitting walks or some other exercise in. I find that an hour gap in my schedule is filled in by other things-cleaning, food shopping, writing notes at work, catching up on e-mails, etc... time to make that exercise time a priority once again. I"ll make it happen these next few weeks.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Banya Times

This past week I have started using the Banya adjacent to the house next door. I have decided it is my little slice of Heaven. Len Schwarz built the banya and he did an amazing job. It is equipped with indoor hot/cold water hose, indoor speakers, windows which overlook Mill Bay and enough room for several people. There is a long bench right outside for cooling off on and a small changing room as well. Tonight Brandi Carlile sang as Mary Jane and I soaked our feet in tubs of hot water. Ahhhhh......

Very different from the old, well-loved, fire hazard banya which our family knew and loved in our house on Monashka bay, while I was growing up. But how great it was!!! There was a porch where if you weren't careful with your footing you'd go right down and a long hose ran from the house down to the banya providing cool water to splash on the rocks. Was it just me, or did it seem like the cooler the water the better the steam there was? I don't know if that even makes sense with the physics of it all. There was the upper HOT layer and a COLD bottom layer. A small ledge big enough for 1 person separated the two. I remember liking the ledge.

I look back now and realize what a big part of our life and social life it was-especially in high school. I remember the high school parties where we'd start in the banya and everyone would return to the house to watch a movie. All of a sudden someone would pipe up, "hey, where did Betsy and Johnny go?" Its 2 hours later and they were still in the banya... pretty funny.

The banya is long gone. When the new owners of the house bought it, they tore it down. It had to go. It lived a LONG life. I believe it was the first structure built on the property. I wish I had pictures of the inside of it.

For the past 15 years I've been out of my banya routine...and now I'm back into it. And it feels GREAT.

The banya is an experience where I can soak up the heat, the humidity and just soak in the relaxation. Its fabulous. And a perfect way to calm the body and spirit. So relaxing and soothing. I literally felt the tension leave my upper back--the 8 hour work day disappeared from my muscles. FABULOUS!!

Tonight was my third banya--everytime has been with different girlfriends. Its so fun to hang out, talk, pour water on the hot rocks, hang outside and cool down.

Now its time for a good night of sleep...


Saturday, May 16, 2009

SO proud of Shannon!

I have wanted to write more about my doula work, but have held back. For my most recent birth with Shannon, I can tell more! I'll explain....

Doula work is a job which holds a significant amount of privacy and confidence. You may notice on my blog that I don't say much aside from "I was at a birth....". To be with a couple during the birth of their baby is a very treasured, private, personal experience. That said, at times I want to scream to the world, "Do you know how amazing these women and their husbands are?!! I am so proud of so-and-so!!" But I keep it to myself, as to respect that confidentiality.

This afternoon I went up to the hospital to visit Shannon, baby Daxton and Dustin. Shannon heard "from a little bird" :) that I had written about her having their baby on our blog. I reassured her that I didn't use her name, as I respect the confidentiality which goes along with being a doula. Shannon said, "Oh, Zoya-you don't have to worry about confidentiality with me. I don't mind if you talk about it. I'm so happy with how everything went". I appreciated her giving me the ok to write a little bit about the birth of Daxton. Being a doula is the most amazing job ever-watching babies be born and watching women being transformed into moms is an absolutely amazing experience. With Shannon, I was there as her friend, not as a formal doula, but I still respected the confidentiality which goes along with that.

I am so proud of Shannon. She had the birth of her dreams and she is invigorated and empowered by that! She was a beautiful, glowing laboring woman and when her baby was born, she had the most amazing smile and sense of joy that was so contagious to everyone in the room. The endorphins and euphoria were intense--the amount of oxytocin (love hormone) in a mom and baby are the highest they will ever be in their life during that one hour after an unmedicated/undisturbed birth. It is what makes mom bond so strongly with baby and makes baby bond so strongly with mom.

I have been at 8 births now, and what amazing experiences they all have been. Women are so strong, powerful and I am able to see them transform into the resilient mothers they are! Women are empowered through the experience of birth. It is hard to even write about or describe until you have been through it or have seen a birth.

Dustin and I took turns helping her through contractions and if one method didn't work, we'd switch to something else. The thing about labor is that it can take a long time, and so for both of us to be able to relieve eachother now and then (for food and bathroom and phone calls) is so wonderful. Dustin did such a great job of keeping me well fed and hydrated--coffee, muffins from Mill Bay, gum, Taco bell...when my energy would get low at various points throughout the 20 hours, there was some pick-me-up food waiting!! The nurses change shifts, doctors come in and out, but the doula is there for the long haul of the labor--and it can have moments which are exhausting. So to have the help from Dustin was fabulous.

I truly am inspired by the moms and families I work with. That sounds cheesy, but you see so many amazing sides to women and men during labor and birth and you see them pull together and commit to eachother and to doing what needs to be done for a healthy baby.

Every labor/birth brings me to tears or near tears--I send women my strength with the contractions, I understand their pain and I share in their joy after its all done. Having a baby is definitey a team effort and being part of that team is such an honor.

This path of doula work has been an incredible part of my life. It is a calling. Physical Therapy is a calling. And teaching childbirth classes is a calling. In opening my own business, I have been able to follow my heart and do all that I love.

I am so, so proud of all the moms I've worked with and SO honored to be part of their birth experience. It is a true honor.

And-Thank you, Shannon, for allowing me to share a little bit about my doula work!
(And you go, girl, Shannon! You did it!!!!)


Friday, May 15, 2009

East Elementary Park Trip

I just returned from assisting a friend with her baby's birth and once again, I come home and squeeze my little ones-what miracles children are-from conception to birth and all those years after. They are such powerful forces in our lives.

After arriving home from nearly 24 hours at the hospital, Nora and Stuey asked to go to the "new" park, which I gladly did. The "new" park is East Elementary--Nora spotted it from her car window the other day and wanted to try it out.

I went to East Elementary as a kid and spent so many hours, days and months at the playground there. The same old playset was there from when I was a kid. An old, weathered wooden set. Pretty amazing how it has lasted close to 30 years! There is a new plastic set, which the kids went on, but it was a bit big for them, so we didn't stay long. The whole experience was nostalgic for me-I looked and saw the fitness course which still exists in the woods behind East Elementary. Kids were playing on all the pieces in the cold evening. I remembered the forest behind the school and how there never used to be a fence. Exploring back there and hiking the trail which used to (or maybe still does?) exist. Here I was with my two kids, after a birth--a time when I am reminded how fast time flies--from newborn babies to little toddlers.

Thank heavens for Hannah's help and Wendy's help last night and today with the kids. I couldn't have been there for my friend today without their help being with the kids here at the house. We are blessed by wonderful friends here in Kodiak!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Off to Karluk Lake

Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be flying off to Karluk Lake this afternoon to conduct an archaeological survey. Mark R, Rose K and Aubrey M will be joining me on the survey. We will start our survey at the mouth of the small creek in the foreground of the top photo. I took this picture last spring and that's Karluk Lake in the background. Our goal will be to map all the housepits that we find and get charcoal from their hearths to radiocarbon date. Ultimately, we will be able to say about how many people were living on Karluk Lake and River through time and exactly where they chose to place their villages at any one moment in time.

We'll finish our survey near the outlet to the lake in the second picture. I took this photo last fall returning from a hunting trip, and yes those white lines are all bear trails! In the fall the bears are attracted to the river to feed on all the salmon coming up the river. That's also what attracts people to the river, and if you look closely at this photo you can see prehistoric weirs Alutiiq peoples used to channel and trap fish. The weirs are those little upside down triangles you see in the river. This part of the river is also lined with housepits. A couple of hundred years ago this was some prime real estate. Actually it still is - only these days people just visit the lake, and stay in cabins and tents. There aren't any modern villages up there anymore.

Stay tuned - in a week and a half I'll be back to report on what we found. Patrick

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nora & Ally

Last weekend I drove the kids out to Rosalyn Beach (way out at the end of the road--in the booming metropolis of Chiniak)! Nora's good day care friend, Ally was there and they held hands and explored the beach lots. Beach time in Kodiak is the best!!

Ally's mom, Sara, taught Nora how to say, "Shoo Fly" as Nora was very bothered by the flies on the beach. We have lots of "beach hardening" training to do this summer...


Friday, May 08, 2009

More Birthday Barbecue Photos

Top two photos are of Shannon with Nora and Stuey. Third photo is of Patrick (me), Thomas and Preston - Thomas gave us each a copy of the goat hunting video he made about our trip last fall. He also gave us each a 'power orb' that he had brought back from the goat trip. To explain more about 'power orbs' here is an excerpt from the September 2008 post explaining the purpose of the orbs on the goat hunt:

"...While we were down there we did have a few days of pretty bad weather. The day after we harvested the goat it rained 1 to 2 inches and blew 40 to 50 MPH out of the East. We hunkered down around the wood stove in our Kifaru teepee and waited it out. We discovered that if you heat up granite boulders on the stove they hold their heat forever. 'Power orbs' is what we termed them, and we used them to alleviate bug bite sores, ease sore muscles, dry out boots, and even to melt cheese. I even put one in my sleeping bag when I went to bed. I have never had it so good while camping during a bad storm."

The power orbs had travelled with him all over the world including Belgium and Hawaii!! He said the TSA bag checkers even asked him once "Sir, are those rocks in your bag?" We watched the video at the end of the party - and almost died laughing. If Thomas ever decides not to be a doctor he could always trek on off to Hollywood.

Fourth photo is of Bruce and Nora eating ice cream. Nora loves ice cream. And finally the bottom picture is of Thomas and Rose. Thomas is off to Litnik to tend a weir for the summer while Rose will join me on our Karluk Lake archaeological survey next week and then she's off to the Alaska Peninsula where she'll be working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Best Birthday Ever

My 33rd birthday was one of the best birthdays I can remember in a long time. I always have a good time, but this year was a GREAT day.
The morning started with me at the hospital helping a mom in labor, the day was a sunny one, I got lots of Happy Birthday wishes from friends & family, my mom sent a great photo album full of baby and childhood photos & the day ended with a great barbeque with friends.
It was a love-filled, fun-filled day!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another Early Morning Skate Ski

Last night it froze pretty hard up in the mountains and snowed a little bit. So this morning I went for an early morning skate ski on the frozen crust before it had a chance to softened up. It was glorious - the new snow made it easy to control my skate skis on the downhills. I flew up the valley behind Pyramid.

I even got a little bearanoid. I was going so fast and silent up the valley that I was worried I'd surprise a bear behind one of the spruce trees. As I went I pondered if I could go faster than a running bear on my skate skis. I bet I could - especially going downhill. But I don't want to ever have to find out!

No bears, but as you can see we still have plenty of snow to cross country ski on. That's the north bowl of Pyramid in the distance on the right. I started my ski on the other side. Patrick

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Summit Chute into the South Bowl on Pyramid

On Sunday I climbed up to the top of Pyramid with Mike M and skiied on down. I have to admit I got up on top and wondered what exactly I was doing. I don't ski from the top all that often and find it a terrifying experience. But Mike was in his element and chose a seldom skiied chute directly from the summit. If you look closely you can see his tracks in this photo. He did not turn all that much. I skiied down the more staid and usual route to the left (the wide one). If you look super closely at this photo you should be able to find 2 mountain goats in amongst the rocks on the right. Patrick

Mike Rips the Summit Chute on Pyramid

I took these pictures of Mike using the 'paparazzi', high speed shooting feature on my point and shoot camera. It actually works pretty darn well. Only problem is that the video screen goes dark when it is shooting and you sort of have to guess where to point the camera. This is usually pretty easy when the subject is close, but with Mike I was using the zoom feature too. It turned out that I moved the camera too fast and in the last picture (not posted) all that is showing of Mike is his ski tips poking into the picture.

Note that Mike is really ripping it in these photos - no side slipping down the steep parts here! I think if you check his tracks he does all of about 5 turns on the whole slope. He pointed them and went for it. And that slope is way steeper than it looks. Patrick