Friday, September 3, 2010

September in Northwest Alaska

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I finally made my first trip north of the Arctic Circle. I just returned from working for three days in Point Hope, AK. When I left Seattle two and a half months ago, I had no idea that I would end up in the Arctic in September. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was windy and on our last day it rained. For the most part I had the appropriate clothing and raingear, but I did not have the right kind of gloves! I only had Atlas rubber-palmed gloves and a pair of finger-less wool gloves. Both were pretty useless while driving a 4-wheeler in the wind and rain. What I really needed was snow machine-ing gloves! It was 50 degrees though, not exactly frost-bite weather so my fingers survived.
Point Hope is an amazing place. The town is located out on a spit made of beach gravel and it is completely exposed to the storms of the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea. The beaches along the spit are beautiful and I saw my fare share of stinky dead whales and bloated walrus carcasses. I got to see the polar bear hide above, possibly as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a live polar bear in the wild. The cloudberries, also known as low-bush salmonberries, were ripe while I was there and I got to munch while I worked. I’ve picked cloudberries in other parts of Alaska, but I have never seen then as thick and big as they were in Point Hope!

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