Tag Archives: Aleutians

Notes from the Field: 11 September 2015

There are a lot of similarities between Iceland and the Eastern Aleutians: the grasses and lichens and wild fruits (not just blueberries and crow berries – they have wild strawberries here, something I discovered after talking to a potter about the berries she’d put on her tea mugs); the waterfalls and the cottongrass meadows cut through with myriad rivulets; the type of rocks and even the shape of the mountains are similar. But the scale of things here is truly astonishing… Imagine if you will the tool in a photo editor, the one that allows you to pinch and stretch different parts of your photos. Now, take the Aleutians and stretch the ridges until they are miles long. Grab a mountain peak and double or triple its elevation. In fact, raise the whole Chain so the passes become instead vast valleys. That’s what it feels like here: the Aleutians, super-sized. I’ve yet to effectively capture this in a single photo, but I’m working on it.

In other news, I left West Iceland and have arrived in the Westfjords, a highly serrated peninsula that juts from icelnd’s northwest corner. I could have spent an entire day driving here, but instead took took a ferry ride across from Stikkishólmur to Brjánslækur, across Breidafjördur. Im not sure how big this bay is, but it took three hours to cross it and there are at least 3000 islands in it. Seriously. And it’s a hot-spot for eider down production, in case you’re wanting an eider down comforter and want to know where it was sourced. About halfway across is the only year-round inhabited island, Flatey (say Flat-ee), serviced only by the ferry and a few  privately owned work and fishing boats. The ferry brings fresh water to the village because there isn’t any there except what can be captured in snow or rain fall.

Aurora forecast is good, and it’s only partly cloudy tonigh. Tomorrow I’m headed to the westernmost point in Europe, a place which also happens to be the largest (14 miles long by 1200 feet high) seabird colony in the northern hemisphere…

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Winter walking

January so often brings us stunning winter weather and this year has been no exception, with about 10 days of mostly sunny, mostly calm and cold but not frigid weather.  Shari and I took advantage of our both being off on one of these almost clear, calm, just-below-freezing days to hike to Agamgik Bay.  This is a great half-day hike at any time

of year, but avalanches often keep us from being able to walk it in the winter.  We’ve had so little snow this year that getting to the trailhead was no problem, and we set off Continue reading Winter walking

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Fall Doth Approach

I’m not sure I’m real keen about this.  Emperor Geese began arriving last week.  I’ve never seen Emperor Geese here in September.  Perhaps some old-timers have, but in 20 years I’ve yet to see them before October, and some years it’s even November before their arrival. Their being here so early can’t be good.  And then there’s the snow.  Termination dust was visible this morning between northerly squalls, but termination dust in September isn’t particularly unusual.  What was disconcerting was the fact that the squalls were bringing snow – hard little pellets of it – at sea level and the snow was actually accumulating on the edges of the deck and in the window frames, on my windshield and in the yard.  Now that simply isn’t right. I think Shari and I need to find more firewood.

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More on Salmon

Brandon and I went diving in the lake yesterday, near the Methodist Church.   We were trying to find a site where, allegedly, the guy I bought my house from had found some WWII china.  We spent about 35 minutes peering through a pretty concentrated algal bloom, dense enough that it was hard to see the bottom and keep up with one another.  When we could see anything at all, we spotted a lot of micrometer-sized fry, and one or two parr that were rather interested in our fingertips, but for the most part we didn’t see Continue reading More on Salmon

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