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8 April, 2002

Ambler is a small, native-village setting on the spruce-tree banks of the Kobuk River. Acting in the background of the village lies the massive Brooks Range Mountains. Ambler is a village of approximately 300 people. They set alone and isolated. Like other villages, their means of winter transportation is snowmachine and airplane. People do travel from village to village but it is limited. There are no roads in this part of Alaska. The conditions of the tundra and permafrost below are too harsh for roads to be built. The tussocks hold large amounts

of water and are are a mess just to

walk upon during the summer. The idea of roads being built upon the tundra is a monstrous task. These same tussocks that are now covered with snow cause our snowmachine ride to be bumpy and jostled.

Since there are no roads, it is obvious there are no phone lines in the villages. The phone system works by use of satellites. The village has a central satellite that transmits the signal. This is also the source of their internet access. Although the phones can be relatively reliable, there is a delay and the connection is often lost. The electricity is dealt with in a similar manner. There is a central generator that electricity lines are run out to the houses.

We enjoyed our visit with Ambler School. Ambler school serves 95 children from grades K-12. Special thanks to Don Thurman's class for the snow measurements that they have been recording over the past several months. These measurements will help us better understand the weather patterns North and South of the Alaska Brooks Range.

Talking to the kindergarton class, I learned how the native Alaskans are still connected to their culture. The children have common names such

as Wendy, Edward, Isabelle, and Mollie. However, they also have traditional Eskimo names. The children told me their names but due to my lack of knowledge in their customs, I am unable to write or speak these names. The natives hold strong to their ancient customs, a pastime they do not want destroyed.

WHERE IS MRS CHEUVRONT??? LET'S PLOT!! Latitude: 67.38562 degrees North

Longitude: 157.47068 degrees West

Departure from Ambler The last human civilization on our route for the next hundreds of miles. It will be at least 2 weeks before we arrive at the village of Atqasuk. We are heading into an immense wilderness, entering and passing through the massive Brooks mountain Range.

A feeling of goodness and sadness filled me as we left Ambler. It felt good to be on the move again, to be experiencing new places and seeing the different terrain. I always feel sad leaving a village because I am still eager to learn more about the native life. Their customs and cultures are mind-enthralling and their life of moderinization in a remote setting is complex and fastinating to me. It's a rough way of life and I would like to learn their ways, including how they deal with the cold and the isolation; the same kinds of things that I am dealing with as part of my trip through their lands.

We have left the marked trails and known paths. We are now venturing where few ever travel. Matthew will use GPS, maps, and conversations with previous travelers as our guide. Today we traveled onward, moving closer and closer to the mountains. As we approached them, the mountains appeared taller and more forbidding. The Brooks Range greeted us with howling winds that left the tundra wind-blown and snow-free in places. In places where the snow is still remaining, it can be hard as cement. The winds kept pushing into the mouth of the moutains. We crossed icy creeks and rivers. Tonight we camp at the beginning of the Redstone Passage. The mountains stand as white guards around us. The wind passes over their peaks leaving traces of blowing-snow clouds. Tomorrow, we move inward through the passage. The passage appears as a tiny opening into the greatness of the mountians.

Temperature Min: -11 degrees Celsius with strong winds today. Temperature Max: -2 degrees Celsius

Matthew Sturm

USA-CRREL-Alaska

P.O. Box 35170

Ft. Wainwright, AK 99703

907-353-5183

msturm@crrel.usace.army.mil


Ken and Glen running the Light attenuation probe for the Ambler students.


The parking lot at the Ambler school! Snowmachines.


An Ambler student trying out writing with mittens on her hands.


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