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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stuey on the go

Stuey tells me that when he is 14 he wants to be an archaeologist.  I told him that he already is an archaeologist.  After all, last summer he found a 4500 year-old seal net weight.  Still he tells that he might want to be a paleontologist and study dinosaurs - he's undecided.

Lately he has also been taking pictures and updating his blog.  And then on Sunday he pestered me into letting him help mow the lawn.  I told him that if he helped he had to finish.  I did not credit him with the perseverance and strength to mow the backyard.  But he stuck with it and did it!  And best of all wants to do it again!

At first he missed a few strips and I explained the concept of 'holidays'.  That's what I call the missed strips of unmowed lawn.  As in the mower had a 'holiday' and missed a bit.  Maybe in the future I'll be taking more 'holidays' and letting Stuey catch the rest.  Patrick

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Misc Pics

As Nora put it, 'look dad a dog Oreo - take a picture'

Here are some pictures from June that somehow did not make the blog.  A lot of the pictures are ones Nora drew on the iPad on Father's Day.  My Father's Day dinner did not go great (I worked hard on a home cooked meal and Stuey refused to eat it).  So Nora was trying to cheer me up with pictures.  She drew them on the iPad and emailed them to me.  They did cheer me up.  Patrick

Moss Campion from the Audubon Hike

Nora's Father's Day art - in bed with the 3 dogs

More Father's Day art - camping with the kids and dog

'Ace' by the wood stove on survey

Daddy and Nora with dog in the woods

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mill Bay at Low Tide

Yesterday I was thinking of things to do with the kids and looked out the window and saw it was low tide.  Sunny day, low tide - problem solved.   Initially we discussed going to a distant beach like the Buskin, but in the end we kept it simple and went down with the dogs to the beach we could see from the house.

Both kids brought their cameras.  Stuey wanted pictures for his blog (click here for his post) and Nora hoped to get a picture for Instagram, and I took my big camera to record it all.  Away we went on a photo safari!

Glorious and best of all whenever we cared to look we could see our little red house perched on top of the cliff watching over us.  Patrick

I've been told that these are good eats in Portugal - somehow I'm skeptical

Not a good place to slip

Another bad place to slip, but for a different reason

This was just about when the hornet found Stuey - time to head home!

Homeward bound

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pyramid Circuit with Stuey

Every summer I lead one Audubon Hike.  I figure it is my civic duty.  When I first moved to Kodiak I learned about the local trails by going on these hikes.  And so now I pass that knowledge on - it's a pass it forward sort of thing.  Anyway yesterday was the day I lead the hike, and I did the usual up Pyramid Mountain, around the backside and down to the golf course.

All as usual except - Stuey came along and helped lead the hike!  I did have to sort of force him - he had wanted to stay at home.  But I was persistent and he relented.  Later on the hike I was talking to one of the other hikers and she related that in their family they called it 'FFF' - 'forced family fun'.

And he did have fun - he ran way ahead.  He lead the way down through the bushes.  He stayed out front with the leaders while Dad stayed back with the pack.  Of course during the hike when he was near dad he acted like it was no fun, but just for a little bit.  When he was leading way out ahead with other grown ups he was in his element.

I know he had a great time because when we got back he could not wait to tell Nora about it.  Nora had been on a Girl Scout outing.  And then he asked me to help update his blog.  He has not done this for a while - so go check out his side of the story (click here for link to Stuey's blog).

I'm passing it forward!  Patrick

Garden just past the Solstice

This is the time of year when the garden takes off and REALLY starts to grow.  I took these pictures yesterday morning and with the carrots, and beets, at least, they are noticeably bigger today.  In years past it is routine for everything to look tiny on the solstice, but by mid July everything is HUGE.  Unfortunately it is also when weeds take off too!  Gotta keep up with the weeding.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Buskin Crayfish

Last night the kids and I went to pizza party and the other kids at the party had just been to the Buskin to catch crayfish.  They had a bucket full of the little buggers.

Crayfish are an invasive species and their presence in the Buskin can't bode well for the local species in the system like salmon and trout.  For instance, I gather crayfish like to eat salmon eggs.

Anyway, I had heard that there were crayfish in the Buskin, but I had thought there were just a few.  Until last night I did not realize just how well-established they have become.  I gather they are trying to eradicate them before they colonize other river systems on Kodiak.  I just hope that crayfish have not become like hawkweed (an invasive plant) - so well-established they are impossible to eradicate.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fish Corrals and Petroglyphs - oh my!

On the last survey that ended in Kizhuyak Bay we discovered 24 new archaeological sites and checked on another 9 that were already known.  That's a lot of sites.  And it's interesting where the first survey of Whale Island was mostly fox farms, cod harvesting and historic sites, and in Raspberry Straits it was mostly small special purpose sites; on this survey we found a lot of big villages.  We found the places where Alutiiq people spent the winter and spring.  We found 4 big villages, and even a couple of the qasgiqs or giant ceremonial houses typically associated with such villages.

But the most exciting discovery was a boulder with holes pecked in it right next to a massive fish 'trap'.  The trap is really more of a fish corral.  It is a series of rock walls in the intertidal zone designed to catch fish when the tide goes out.  When the tide is in the fish swim up into the creek mouth above the traps, and then when it goes out they are trapped in the rock walled corrals.  One of the rock walls is over 200 feet long!

The rock walls are pretty massive and represent a lot of work.  Today they are still over 5 feet wide and a couple feet high, and the boulders are all pretty big.  And they've been there a long time.  I think they are over 250 years old.

Such fish traps or corrals are fairly common in Southeast Alaska, but, to the best of my knowledge, they have never been found on Kodiak before now.  I plan on looking for them elsewhere!

What's exciting about the pecked holes or petroglyphs is that they seem to be in association with the fish corrals.  We have seen these pecked holes and incised lines at other sites on the North end of Kodiak and Afognak, and it is beginning to look like they are found near salmon streams.  Where they occur and what they look like is very different from the petroglyphs that depict people, faces and animals.  And judging by the age of the sites found nearby the 2 types of petroglyphs, the holes and lines typically seem to be a couple of hundred years younger than the faces and animals.

Archaeologists love patterns because patterns are easier to explain than single occurrences.  Once you establish that there is a pattern then you can come up with theories that explain or 'fit' the pattern.  It is the first step in figuring out what they mean.  Of course we'll probably never completely understand what the pecked holes and incised lines represent but we are beginning to understand how they fit into the story as a whole.  Patrick

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Running out of snow

There is still decent snow on Pyramid, but not for much longer.  As it is the only good snow is in the North Bowl and then you got to hike back up to walk down to the car - and there is a short gap in the middle.  Within a week or so the skiing will not be worth the hike up the mountain.  But for now it is, and the doggies love chasing me down the hill.

At the top of the run they all scamper around and bark.  And then I'm off and the chase is on.  Lately I've been skiing slow so that the doggies can keep up - we ski as a pack.  And then back home they all sleep on the couches - content.  Patrick

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pretty Pictures

An old fox farm

Not much to this post except showing off some pretty pictures from my recent survey.  In the next post I'll show you some of the archaeological discoveries.  These pictures show what the landscape looked like.  All except the second picture they are in chronological order from top to bottom, and it is interesting to see how much greener it was by the time we finished with the survey.  Summer arrived!  Patrick

We boated out for the start of the survey with a team of biologists studying elk and bears

Panoramic of the fox farm

Waterfall on Barbara Creek

The Head of Kizhuyak Bay

Another of the Head of Kizhuyak Bay - My friend Brooks might have a flashback with this photo (click here)

Kizhuyak Bay from Kekur Point

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bird Colonies and other wildlife

Rounding Kekur Point

While on survey we saw a lot of wildlife.  My wildlife highlight was watching a young bear foraging along the low tide line.  He was flipping rocks and snapping up the eels and small fish while a few raven followed along behind to catch the scraps.  I was just offshore in a kayak and he had no idea I was there.  When he did notice me he woofed and ran off.

We also kayaked by a number of gull nesting colonies.  They'd wheel and squawk over our heads.  Hundreds of them.

After years of never seeing an oystercatcher nest I suddenly got the eyes for them.  I started to see them everywhere.  You don't look for the eggs but for the concentrations of white barnacle bits.  Patrick

Nagoonberry Flowering

Oystercatcher Nest Close

Oystercatcher nest from a distance

Kittwake colony

More nesting black legged Kittiwakes

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Room With a View

On an archaeological survey, as opposed to an excavation, you camp at a different spot every evening.  This means that every afternoon you need to find a decent camping spot, and set up camp when you are done for the day.  To some extent what you find during the day's survey determines where you camp.  Some days there are no sites to be recorded and you end up far further down the coastline than you expected.  On other days you find an area with a bunch of sites that need to be recorded and it is 4 PM - time to camp!  Generally from around 3:30 on in the afternoon we are thinking about camp - we check out the map and start thinking about the options.

There are a lot of options to consider when choosing a place to camp.  First and foremost there needs to a flat and dry spot to set up the teepee.  On of the best things about the spruce forest on North Kodiak is that the moss makes for a soft and dry sleeping spot!  Other things to consider - who owns the land?  I respect private property and chose to only camp on ANC land (whose land we were surveying).  Is there good fresh water nearby? Is there a spot to land the kayaks? Is there shelter from the wind?  Good driftwood for the stove? What happens if the wind picks up during the night - will you be able to get off the beach?

By the end of the day I am going on shore from the kayak a lot - both to check for archaeological sites and to look for decent spots to camp.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to find a place to stop for the night.  Along the coast south of Port Lions much of the land was privately owned. And nothing on ANC land that we checked out was suitable - too brushy, too wet, no flat spot.  And then the coastline got very steep - uh oh, would we ever find a campsite?  But somehow we managed to find a little pocket beach and found a trail up to the top of the cliff where, low and behold, we found a protected flat spot with an AWESOME view. It turned out to be one of our favorite campsites.

One interesting aspect of the trip was watching the landscape change as we moved from the spruce forests of North Kodiak to the cottonwoods, alder and willow of Kizhuyak Bay.  For the first 3 nights we camped in the woods and could only see trees out the teepee door.  In Kizhuyak we started to camp on the tops of terraces and had some great views of the snow capped peaks in Kodiak's interior. Patrick

Camp 1 in the spruce forest - it turned out to be a blow hole

Camp 2 - perfect spot in the trees, but fresh water was an issue (but it rained so hard we were able to fill up our pots and pans from water dripping off of the teepee)

Hard to beat this spot in the trees and the beach was RIGHT there

This was the camp on the cliff - what a view and a stream for water right behind camp

Another perched campsite near the head of Kizhuyak Bay where it got difficult to find spots that were not too brushy

Camp in the cottonwoods - hard to beat! I put the food barrels next to the tent guys so we don't trip over the lines