Last Day in Cordova 07/30/2009
Today is the last day in Cordova and tomorrow we go home on the ferry. I will be so sad to have to leave everyone. We went to the museum and saw some really cool native artwork. Then we went and learned how to bead with a lady named Patience. Her name suits her so well. She is the most patient lady I have ever met. I got a knot in my thread so many times and she just said that it was fine and she would get it out. After beading we went back to the Watershed Project and wrote in our journals, made a powerpoint for the open house, got some food together, and got ready for people to arrive. When people started coming in we showed them the powerpoint that we made, talked to them about what we had done and learned, etc. It was so fun and a lot of people came. We then went to the Prince WIlliam Sound Science Center and ate some fresh salmon from Matt and had a lot of really good food. We also had cake because it was Craig's birthday on the last day on the river. Tomorrow the kids from upriver go back home and have to say goodbye to all of the friends that we have made. Tonight we went and talked to a man named Dune Lankord. He sued his people because they wanted to build a road during the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. He really showed me that if you want something to be different then you have to step up and do it even if it is really hard and involves doing something that you don't really want to do. Because he won the case he saved so many trees and continued to keep Alaska beautiful.
Field Trip Day in Cordova 07/29/2009
Today we went to learn from some peole from the Forestry Service. They taught us about Rusty Blackbirds and how they are going instinct and they are trying to figure out why. I also learned that during the 1964 earthquake it moved the Copper River Delta up and changed it completely. After talking to the people from the Forestry Service we went on this little trail that overlooked the Delta. It was really cool to see all of the different plants and stuff. Then we went and climbed haystack which was beautiful. Everything was green and marshy just like a rainforest. It was also a really nice trail with some really pretty signs along the way. After climbing haystack we went to town and got a tour of Shannon's boat. It was cool to learn about a fishermans life and how they sometimes stay out for weeks or even months at a time depending on when the openings are. Every Wednesday they put our announcements that tell when the fishermen can go out and fish. They give them out at the Department of Fish and Game which is also where we went to to go to the odilith lab. We learned about what an odilith is and how it forms. I learned that they form like crystals and they change in different types of water. After visiting the lab we then went and Matt gave us a tour of his boat. His was different because it was aluminum and had a little bit different place where they store the fish. Matt and Shannons boats are bow pickers which means that the net goes over the bow instead of the stern. They put out these big nets and wait for a couple hours or so and then pull the net back in and pick the fish out. The way they get stuck is they swim into the net but then they realize that they just swam into a net so they try to go backwards but their gills get stuck. We also got to go to a canary where they fillet the fish. They didn't have any fish that they were filleting but one of the guys showed us with 2 fish that they had. He did it so well and didn't leave any bones behind. He could also do it so fast. That day we got to go to Hartney Bay and see some fish swimming under the bridge. Eveyone was talking and all of a sudden I just happened to look up the road and I saw a cute little black bear crossing the road. "Look a black bear!" I told everyone as I notioned over across the road with my hand. It was so cool to see it so close. We returned to camp and kind of chilled out, got caught up in our journals, roasted marshmallows, downloaded all of the pictures onto Kristi's laptop and then crashed for the night. I am so excited for tomorrow because it is the open house! I am really excited to share some things that I learned with the people of Cordova!
Today is our last day on the river! I am sad but it will be good to be able to take a shower and stuff. I woke up and the first thing I saw was a mob of mosquitoes outside of the tent. It was beautiful outside, sunny with no wind. The only bad thing about no wind is that there are twice as many bugs. We packed up and took off. Everyone was really excited to get to Cordova! I was in the little yellow boat with Robbin which I was really excited for when it came time to go through Abercrombie Rapids. A little bit after we took off from camp we stopped at the Native Village of Eyak. They talked to us about what they do and why it is important that they are tagging the fish that they catch in their huge fishwheel. We got to go to the fish wheel which was really fun. When we got back to the Native Village of Eyak they had cake, pie, pasta, juice, candy, etc. which was awesome and tasted so good! We had to get back on the river though so that we would make it to Cordova at the right time. It was pretty cloudy and got kind of chilly after our stop at the Native Village of Eyak. By the time we got to Abercrombie Rapids I was really nervous. I didn't know what to expect but after we got through it I wished that we could go through it again and again! The waves were really big but even though I was in the little boat I didn't get wet at all. We pulled off and took a bathroom break before going through Miles Lake. The glaciers were amazing and huge. Miles Glacier is 27 miles long. I could hear Childs Glacier caving even before Abercrombie Rapids and it was going even when we got off the river and went to look at it. There were so many icebergs in the water and we grabbed a mini one out of the water. It melts so slowly and it was cool to see how little it was on top but then how big it was underneath the water. It was fun to go across Miles Lake and watch the Million Dollar Bridge get bigger and bigger untill we were on land again, packed up and ready to hop in the car. It was fun to drive across the bridge that we had been looking at for a couple hours. When we crossed the bridge we went to learn about an underwater sonar that counts the fish. They sit in a small little shack and at the top of every hour they count the fish that go by. It was really interesting to learn about what they do but I don't think that I could do it. I couldn't sit inside a little shack and count fish every hour. We then went to a palce where you can sit and watch the glacier. We ate some snacks and suddenly it turned sunny and hot! It was so awesome. We were sitting there watching the Childs Glacier calv and eating snacks. It was so fun to think that not even an hour before that we had been on the Copper River. After snacking and watching for about an hour or so we hopped in the car and drove to town. We went to our campsite and then took showers and had a little tour of Cordova. It started to sprinkle a little, of course, but I learned that the Kenny Lake gets about 8 inches of rain per year but Cordova gets about 160 some inches per year which is a huge difference. After our showers we went to the Copper River Watershed Project building and ate dinner. It was a long amazing day and that night I slept so well.
Day 4 on the River 07/27/2009
As usual we woke up, ate breakfast, cleaned up, and packed everything up and loaded it up into the boats. We rafted for quite awhile and then stopped at this one spot for lunch. There were a lot of remains from the railroad including a railroad track that hung across a stream. We walked up this hill and went and looked at it. On this trail that we walked up it was cool because the vegetation is so much different than it is in Kenny Lake. After lunch we packed up again and continued rowing untill we found what we thought was our campsite but there were people at it already. Then we went to another campsite but it was so muddy and wet. If you stood in one place for too long you would sink in really far. There were also some really cool bear tracks in the mud that I got to see which was really cool. We continued on again and finally to got to our campsite. We had to walk up a steep incline to get to it which was hard when we had to carry up all of the gear, especially the dry box which had all of the pots and pans. We got it all up there though and it was worth it. It was the last campsite on the river and it was so beautiful! The tents went back in this little meadow that you had to walk up a rock to get to it. You could look down over the river and the kitchen. It was amazing. The only problem was that once the wind died down the bugs were awful. They were everywhere and there were so many of them. Everyone had bug nets on and we were all doused in bug repellent. The bugs were extra awful in the meadow where the tents were and it was a trick to get inside you tent without getting any bugs in. After dinner and discussion time we all went and played frisbee for a little bit and then went to bed. Tomorrow we get to Cordova which I am really excited about. We also get to go through Abercrombie Rapids!
Day 3 on the River 07/26/2009
Today I woke up early because I had breakfast duty. I got to make the pancakes which was really fun. It was raining and cold when I woke up and it stayed that way almost all day. I got to row the raft today which was really fun. It was really cold though so I didn't row for very long. When we got to camp we had to pull the rafts up kind of on a sandbar. Then we had to carry all of the stuff up a hill. It was really pretty overlooking the river. We had porkchops for dinner which was so good! We all gathered in a tent and talked about what we had been doing so far on the river and where we had been. Hopefully it will stop raining by the morning! I learned that we are averaging about 14 miles per day. It is weird to think that you can drive a couple hundred miles per day but then when you ride on a boat it takes so much longer.
Day 2 on the River 07/25/2009
It is day two and I am so amazed that I am on this trip. I never in a million years imagined that I would be on the Copper River on a rafting trip. This morning when I woke up I packed up all of my stuff and then I went and had french toast with strawberries. It was so good. Jessica and I had dish duty and after we finished we helped pack up the kitchen and then load up everything in the boats. It was so pretty and sunny. It got windy pretty early but otherwise it was amazing. We stopped at a really cool tunnel from the old railroad. It is really cool to see parts of the railroad in different places on the river. We got to camp at about 2 or 3 o'clock and ate lunch. Camp was on a really cool beach with a bunch of bear tracks. Later after we unpacked everything some people went on a hike. I learned that the long pinecones that you sometimes see at the bottom of alders are a parasite and are called ground cones or broom rapes. They only grow at the bottom of mountain alders. When we got back from our hike Jessica and I cooked dinner. We made chicken, biscuits, coleslaw, and for dessert we had lemon bars. We sat around the campfire and across the river we saw a bear which was really cool. It was a beautiful day and I hope we have more days like this!
Getting on the River! 07/24/2009
This morning we all went to a fish wheel in Tazlina and listened to Marcle, a native elder. We saw his fish camp and he told us that natives use everything when they have fish. For example they cook up the fish bones and feed them to their dogs. After talking to Marcle we went to the National Park Service. We looked at their 3-D map of Alaska and saw where we willl be traveling in the watershed. We went to eat lunch and pack up our stuff at Bruce's and then we headed off to Chitna. We went down by the fish wheels to where we were going to take off from. A trooper came and talked to us about boat safety and he told us a story that I will never forget. He said that he has pulled a lot of bodies out of the water and one of them was a boy that was in the water for 18 months and when he was putting him into the body bag, his hands went throught the boys flesh all the way up into his chest cavity! It definitely was not the best thing to hear before you got onto the Copper River but it was O.K. When Mark and Robbin arrived with the boats and all of the equipment everyone helped to unload, get the boats pumped up, get everything into dry bags, etc. Then Mark talked to us a little more about safety on the boats and we all hopped in and took off! It was pouring rain but at least we could all try out our rain gear! At first we got stuck on quite a few sand bars but after that it was smooth sailin'. I saw about 70 dipnetters and some eagles which was really cool. We sailed for about two hours and then got to our first campsite! It got really nice and kind of cleared up a little. We unpacked the boats, set up our tents, and then sat around the campfire and waited for dinner which was spaghetti, garlic bread, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. It was so good and I couldn't believe how good the food was. I was kind of thinking that we were going to have things like Mountian House food and hot dogs but it was so fun to have such good food! After dinner we talked about things that we had learned and what we had done that day. It was such a fun day and I am so excited for the following days on the river.
We left at 8:00 this morning to go to the Gulkana Fish Hatchery. We met with a guy who talked to us about how they run the hatchery. There is this big long line of incubators and they hold all of the eggs. There are 134 containers and each one holds 250,000 eggs. The fish hatchery is only licensed to release 3 million fish per year. When the fish are ready to go they take some of them and shoot them out of a plane flying at 200 feet. The hatchery is a good thing because they use biodegradable products if the fish come in contact with the IHM virus. If one egg in an incubator catches the virus it could kill all of the other fish which could be awful, and they provide a bunch of fish for the Copper River Watershed. We got to watch some of the guys form the hatchery sort out some of the fish that were ready to spawn. After we left the hatchery we went to a place by the Gulkana River where we learned about how it is a good thing to use a portable toilet when you go on a trip like this. We ate lunch and then went to a BLM place where we walked on some really pretty trails. I learned that horsetail can be used to scour pots and pans because it has a mineral in it called silica. Before we went back to Bruce's office we stopped at the Klutina River and talked with Mark Sommerville from Fish and Game about how the fish population is going way down and how if you catch a King Salmon you have to put it back because there are so few King Salmon this year. When we got back we got to go and take showers and then we went and had a campfire and talked with Cliff Eames and Ruth McHenry about problems such as Tangle Lakes, the pipeline and how we are running out of oil, and having designated areas for skiers and places for snowmachines. It was really interesting to hear about Tangle Lakes and what they want to do with it because I never really understood what was going on with it. I see now why people want to save it because if we don't they would ruin a beautiful place. Tomorrow we get on the river!
Going to Valdez 07/22/2009
We left Kenny Lake at about 9:00 to go to Valdez to pick up the five Cordova kids from the ferry terminal. After everyone was together we all got together at a big long table and went over rules, made a Constitution of the rules that we all had to follow, ate lunch, and then looked at a map of the watershed and wrote down some things that we knew about the Copper River Watershed. Throughout the raft trip we are going to continue to write down things that we have learned and trace the places that we have been. After lunch we went over to SERVS which stands for ship escort response vessel system. They talked to us about the Pipeline and what happened during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, etc. After our trip to SERVS we drove home. We stopped at pump station 12, and did a little tour of Kenny Lake. We were all really tired after a long day so we went back to Bruce's office and made pizza, decorated our "Rite in the Rain" notebooks, discussed what we had done that day and wrote some more things on our map of things that we know. It was amazing to see all of the things that we had learned that day. It was a long and fun day and I can't wait for tomorrow because we are going to Paxson to visit the Gulkana Fish Hatchery!
Before the Trip 07/19/2009
I am starting this blog as my final project for the Copper River Stewardship Program. I am going to include pictures, videos, links to the sponsors, and I will also write about my journey on the river.
As I am preparing for the Copper River Raft Trip I am very excited. I can't wait for all of the things that are on the agenda for this amazing trip. I am ready to learn about all of the things that make our great state unique such as the Copper River Salmon and the pipeline. I can't wait to go to the museam in Copper Center and learn about the history of the watershed.
I am not only excited about learning but also about meeting all of the kids from Cordova and Glennallen! It will be so fun to make new friends from across Alaska!
I am thrilled that I was chosen to go on this trip and I hope that when I get back and teach people about what I've learned they will be as enthusiastic about all of this as I am.