2 August, 1997
Saturday, August 2, 1997. 4:00 a.m.
I am awake! Coffee! Soon Danny arrives in the dining room and we discuss our individual plans for the day. He and Mark will spend their day in the Kuparuk River control zone trying to re-catch the tagged Arctic Grayling -- these fish were previously caught two weeks ago by two other fishermen. My task is to place 108 insect traps in a pre-established pattern in the Kuparuk River control (-0.1 and -0.7) and experimental (2.5 and 3.0) zones. At 6:00 a.m., I picked up the sample trap I had set the day before and saw that everything would work. I returned to the dining room, prepared a lunch, then packed a day pack and loaded up with all of my supplies and equipment. It is misting, so I wear my rainpants.
The scenery on our short ride to the Kuparuk River is wonderful, everything appears to be so big and, except for the Trans-Alaska pipeline on the horizon, relatively untouched by humans. We arrive at the Kuparuk River and park the truck on a pipeline access road. My plan is put out the cards in the experimental region at 2.5 km and 3.0 km first. The fishermen will go in the opposite direction to the control area. My previous experiences with a day pack were very limited, so my descent onto the tundra with a loaded pack via the fairly steep gravel road shoulder was my first eye opener. The others in the group were more experienced and helpful, but I am trying to be self-sufficient--big mistake on the first day. Walking on the tundra -- with a loaded pack -- on my first day -- what can I say...I did get some serious exercise.
The weather is nice, too warm for plastic rainpants even with the mist, and as I discovered I had on too many layers. The bugs were (I was told) mild, but they were still quite interested in me. The Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory had purchased a new "Original Bug Shirt" for me -- which I happily used, the only thing was that it was too hot. So I had to choose between bugs or overheating. I alternated.
Some of the types of vegetation are new to me, I had never seen or tasted Cloudberries. After tasting them, I think I prefer the non-ripe berries. Blueberries were abundant and ripe -- I occasionally picked one to eat. Also, I noticed a small red berry which I assumed is a type of cranberry, but not being sure I did not eat one.
The insect traps were set in a pattern in the four defined transects using a quasi-geometric progression. For variability each station has three sticky cards placed vertically on rebar (in the river) or wooden stakes (in the tundra). The traps were placed at different distances from the water including (1) in the river, (2) right at the edge of the top of the willows, (3) 1m, (4) 3m, (5) 15m, (6) 50m, (7) 100m, (8) 200m, and (9) 500m.
The REH student, Thuy Lam, helped me to set the traps. By 1:00 we had finished setting the traps in the experimental area. Karie thought that for best experimental design we should set all the traps on the same day. I was not sure I had the energy to do it, but, with the help of Thuy, Karie and Nat all the traps were set out -- with the intention of leaving them in place for 5-7 days.
That evening I knew I had covered some different terrain, and used muscles I did normally use. After a quick meal, I went to bed thinking that if the United States wanted to dominate the Olympics in the Cross Country events, they should require that the team train in the Tundra. There is surely nothing else like it!
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