Part 2 of the Alaska Series. Click here to read Part 1: Above the Arctic Circle.
Prior to leaving on our Alaskan Adventure, Steve built a slider for my camera so I could pan smoothly while videoing. The whole thing disassembles and fits neatly into a tube for storage and travel. The mistake we made before catching our flight is that we didn't have the TSA folks open it, check the contents and seal it with "TSA Inspected" tape. After all, it was a whole bunch of metal rods and hunting knives stuffed into a 3ft PVC pipe...
We arrived into Kotzebue with all our bags except for the one containing the slider tube. A search by the helpful airport folks found it in Seattle and one of the local pilots brought it out to me at camp that evening (yay for fantastic customer service - thanks Alaska Airlines and Eric!). The whole bag was thoroughly inspected, including my apparently suspicious-looking bag of woolly socks. I do wish the TSA people would learn to repack stuff nicely. It all fit in once upon a time; it can do it again.
But while waiting for the bag to arrive we realised that my sleeping bag was with it. It's not much fun in Alaska without a warm sleeping bag and not knowing if it would arrive that day (if ever), I was in a bind. Camp guide Cecil came to the rescue with a -40deg sleeping bag. I was Toasty (see that capital T?!) and kept it for the whole time we were there. I even had to take my socks off. Best. Bag. Ever. (Thanks, Cecil!)
Wayne and his Alaska Kobuk Outfitters crew really treat you well. There is a woodburner in your tent to keep the cold out and trust me, you stay warm with that going, as well as drying your clothes when it rains. And it rained. We were in a four-man tent (with Steve's brother and sister) and there was plenty of room. The cots (stretchers in Kiwi-lingo) are comfortable and have enough clearance to store bags under them.
The first full day in camp brought a lot of rain. Did I mention before that it rained? September is definitely rainy season in Alaska. But that (along with a snowfall the previous week) dealt to the bugs, so I was okay with it - mostly because I wouldn't need to wear my BCHN (this is comparable to a pair of BCGs, but is a hairnet instead of glasses). We spent time getting to know the other folks in camp then suddenly word came in that a moose and calf had been spotted nearby. Steve and I took off after them, but those long-legged beasties are speedy even when walking.
We climbed up a small rise and waited for a while, finally seeing the pair as they broke cover and headed for the hills. I only had a chance to photograph their backsides as they quickly moved away from us. But hey - I snagged a photo of a moose. Next time it'll be up close and personal.
Next up: Food, Glorious Food & Pitching In