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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chirikof Logistics

Our arrival at Chirikof - unfortunately at the wrong lake

While on Chirikof we established 5 different camps.  Our original intention had been to establish one camp at a lake on the Southwest corner of the island and then to do day trips to all the sites we intended to visit and sample.  However, on arrival it was too foggy to land at our intended lake.  We were forced to land at a lake at the other end of the island 6 or 7 miles away, and at least 3 or 4 miles away from any of the sites we wanted to visit.  We almost returned to Kodiak to try for the correct lake on another day. But, in the end, we decided to stay and try and do the project from the North end lake.  The pilot explained that he needed to return anyway, and he could move all our gear at that time.

Good thing we did decide to stay because the weather got even uglier and we would not have been able to get back for another 4 days. We would have been stuck in Kodiak.  This also meant all our gear was stuck at the North end lake.  The hike to the first site 3 or 4 miles away convinced us that the north end lake would not work as a base camp.  It was just too far away.  So we opted to move our camp on foot with just the bare minimum of gear closer to the area where the sites we wanted to test are located.

Jack and I returned to the North end lake and got what we would need to spend 3 days in a minimalist camp.  It is amazing what one can do without!  We dumped the Coleman stove and fuel, camp chairs, hatchet for splitting wood, all but one of the tents, coffee percolator and cream, water filtration system, and all but one change of clothes.  We brought one tent for Catherine and Sam, and Jack and I shared the big cook tent teepee with woodstove.  We found it very easy to set up such a stripped down camp, and we did all our cooking and water boiling on the woodstove.

The heaviest stuff  we had to carry was the samples we collected and the food.  And after 2 days and still no plane we moved on to camp 3 next to another site we intended to sample.  By this point we were almost out of food, and if the plane had not returned on the 4rth day and ferried our gear, Jack and I had intended to return back to our gear cache at the North end lake for food.  The round trip journey would have taken a full day.  Finally after four days we had our camp and all our gear at the correct lake!

Jack and I later did a 2 day bird survey from camp 4.  I also had to collect a faunal sample from a distant midden on the other side of the island.  And so we took gear for 2 days and carried it on our backs.  The weather was spectacular for our hike and it was so hot that we did not want to cook on the woodstove inside the tent.  So we set it up outside the tent on the beach!  It worked great.  This was our 5th and final camp.  Our packs got very heavy when filled up with faunal samples for the hike back to the main camp.


Our first camp in a swamp

Jack negotiating cows on the way back to the North end lake to get gear and food

A minimalist Camp 2 in the dunes 

Camp 2 almost packed up - note 'coffee filter' and buoy 'spatula'

The haul down the beach to camp 3

Camp 3 at West Point

Camp 4 at SW Anchorage - finally at the correct lake with all our gear

Minimalist survey with Jack - too hot to cook in a teepee

Walking the cliffs and looking for birds

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