Good Bye, Alaska

Alaska is such a huge, diverse state that even in 4 months I have only seen a small part of it.  However, I am grateful because I have seen more of the state in these 4 months than almost all tourists and many locals.  It seems that fieldwork is the perfect way to tour Alaska.

A couple experiences that stood out:

1. The Denali highway is 135 miles of dirt road through BLM land in the heart of Alaska.  Though the summer had been rainy, we got a gorgeous day when we were collecting on the Denali Highway.  It was just so amazing to pull off anywhere along the road, hike a short distance and be surrounded by collection opportunities.  It was sunny and warm, and the shrub tundra stretched out into the distance until the foothills and the sharp summits of the Alaska Range, which we could see in all of their glory.  There were also plenty of ripe blueberries on which to snack.  I think we collected for at least 8 hours that day, and had we not had a two hour drive home to dinner, I think we would have stayed until midnight.

2. We got the opportunity to go to the Seward Peninsula, location of historic Nome and home to numerous reindeer and muskoxen.  The flight to Nome is more expensive than a flight to Seattle, so we would not have been able to go there if not for SOS.  Along the three dirt roads that leave Nome, we made numerous collections over the course of 6 days.  Though the days were long and often quite chilly, I enjoyed every minute of it.  I could not stop thinking “I’m in Nome!”  As an unexpected bonus, fellow CLM intern Ben Copp welcomed us to Nome with a salmon cookout on the beach.  It was a trip that I will never forget.

I will definitely have fond memories of my internship in Alaska, and even if these memories grow dim I have thousands of photos to remind me.  Here are just a few:

Moose, Earthquakes, and Other Adventures

This week has been an exciting week for the four SOS interns in Anchorage, Alaska.  Our training is complete, and we have been putting all that knowledge to use as we scout for populations from which to collect.  We were surprised to find what a large chunk of the Alaska flora we have learned in such a short time.  We have our teacher Mike Duffy to thank for his endless knowledge and endless patience.  Next week, we will make our first collecting trip outside of the Anchorage area, and we are all looking forward to the adventure.

Now, on to moose, earthquakes and other adventures.  The moose shown in the photos is actually the 8th moose that I have seen in my 3 weeks in Alaska, but it was the first one that I encountered while on foot.  This was exciting because I could photograph it, but also somewhat intimidating because I was looking up at it.  This particular moose seemed very fond of us, as it continued to walked toward us, criss-crossing the trail, as we  retreated and photographed.  Eventually, it grew bored and wandered off into the woods.  As for the earthquake, it occurred the same day as the moose encounter.  It was the first time I have ever felt an earthquake.  I was lying in bed at the time, and my first thought was, why is Vania (fellow intern) hiding under my bed and rocking it?  This notion was dispelled when Vania yelled from down the hall, “does anyone else feel the bumping.”  We immediately ran outside, but by the time we got there, the shaking had stopped.  Another recent adventure was a weekend sea kayaking course and trip to Prince William Sound.  This, alas, was not part of my SOS work, though it was funded by my first paycheck.  In addition to becoming certified by the American Canoe Association, we saw numerous glaciers and waterfalls, a seal, and a kittiwake rookery.

In conclusion, I am so happy to be working in this incredible place.   Here’s hoping that the adventures are just beginning…

Jordan S., BLM, Anchorage, AK