Sunday, April 27, 2008

More signs of spring in Juneau

It's pretty amazing here in spring we've had temps up near sixty last week but on the clear days it was down to low 30s at night with everyone(except me it seems) seeing the northern

Everytime we get sunny weather I'm reminded of how amazing the mountains are. Since Juneau is at sea level a 2,000 ft mountain seems gigantic. The other day I hiked up the Spaulding Meadows trail and decided not to bring the snow shoes because everything down low was snow free and the trails are pretty packed. Once I get up there I discovered some of the nicest views in Alaska and the snow was so deep that tree wells(pockets created at the base of conifers) were five feet deep in some places. If I walked off the packed trail I'd break through up to my thighs and have to post hole my way around.

As I hiked around I could hear "hooters" (blue grouse) calling and lots of other birds were out and about.

Here are some photos from the North Douglas highway and outer point trail about twenty minutes from where I live.

The outer point trail is really nice because it gives good views of coastal Alaska. You can find sea anemonies, gulls, seals, harlequin ducks, barrows goldeneye, ravens, crows, eagles and of course mountains!

Spring in Juneau

Well it's been over a month since I've posted here. That's because the days have been getting much longer and it doesn't get dark until almost 9:00 at night. The big thaw was on and everything at sea level had melted completely with the roads finally dry and the everyone following the ordinance took their studded tires off the cars by April 15th only to be unprepared for the 12 inches of snow that dumped on us April 17th. Fortunately, the sun came out later that day and didn't go away for 8 days straight. I think that's the longest stretch that I've ever had in Alaska.

I'm about to start field work again very soon traveling to Sitka, Prince of Wales and then possibly somewhere else before I go to Pack Creek and the bears again at the end of May. I recently spent a week helping a biologist measure moose browse, collected pellet samples(aka moose poop) and then stayed behind for a few days working solo in order radio track in to find a few wild moose to see if they still had their calves.

After the week was over I'm pretty sure that I had about 15LBS of moose poop quadruple bagged in with my gear for the ride back to town on the Cessna. I got on the plane and barely had my seatbelt buckled when the other passenger complained to the pilot that the week before some new pilot(from a different air taxi) had forgotten to switch the fuel tanks and the engine quit so this guy puts on his life vest while the pilot is tapping the gauges and trying to figure out what happened.LOL! I was about to mention that it may be bad luck to discuss that kind of thing before you even get in the air when our pilot told a story of his own. Apparently when he was new the same thing happened to him with a plane load of tourists. He covered by saying "look at that moose down there" and then circled around the "moose" until the fuel line flowed again and they were none the wiser. I love to fly but it's occasionally very interesting as it was that day flying back in the snow with the pilot looking at the steering wheel of the plane 90% of the time because that's were the mapping instrument was and visibility was so low it was almost pointless to look out the windows until we got much closer to Juneau

This is a cow moose with last springs calf(a bull). She was one of the less cooperative moose I tracked that week. She was initially close but it took over an hour to finally sneak up enough to see the calf bedded down nearby. They were nice enough to stand up for a photo and then decided to continue browsing a bit further away.