INCIDENTS OF My TRAVELS to
NEVER SEEKING ADVENTURE YET ADVENTURE FINDS ME
As we assess the situation Harry delivers some news...
As if its point proven the rains finally abates that next morning. We rise and cloth ourselves with not quite dry enough clothes. Returning to the site we find the tent collapsed. Everything else was strewn about as if victim of powerful winds. But nothing major damaged. Our equipment usable we will be able to continue our work as soon as we clean up.
Mild mists becomes a troubling downpour
Another night without a fire and in mere 50 degree weather we are getting chilled to the bone now. With the rain continuing we have adjusted to sleeping on our baggage to keep us off the damp ground. Our sleeping bags by now are sodden and heavy with the seeping waters, barely dry on the inside.
Working the job in an uncomfortable environment
After that first night’s uncomfortable sleep we started our work at first light. Sore and unrested. The floor’s incline toward the creek more cumbersome than expected and the padding protecting us from protrusions under the tent not nearly thick enough, surfaced roots dug into the small of my back. But I slept some. The same was could not be told of the other two.
Arriving at the camp we find unexpected news
“Why did they leave without finishing?” asks Jim as we are inspecting the abandoned equipment
Apparently an accident incapacitated one of the workers over the summer. He had fallen off of a cliff riding the Rokon motorcycle, the same broken motorcycle found at the shore camp. With broken legs (possible back) they had to extract him back to Kodiak City thus leaving this site as is. Ours is the first attempt in returning to finish the job.
Idle conversation we get to know each other.
In retrospect I realize what Jim was doing. My getting lost the night before had him concerned. If I was not able to get my bearings along the beach so near to camp my traveling across five kilometers of open terrain was likely to be hazardous. So he starts pointing out what the tracker in him notices as second nature, landmarks and signs along our path. Distinctions in an otherwise typical terrain.
Our first hike to the remote job site
That next morning we set off to the job site. Loading all necessary equipment into our packs we determined what was not required for our initial setup. The work site sat about five kilometers westward and going back and forth would take the better part of a day. So as to not waste productive time our packs contained the essentials.
Not even a day here and I am lost already!
Harry prepared our first dinner of the expedition in that igloo, concocting a simple dish of frank and beans on bread. I don’t know why I was expecting something more elaborate.
We needed to fill a five gallon can with water at a fresh water stream from a run-out to the ocean on the northern end of the beach.
What brings me to Alaska?
We introduced ourselves. Harry told us more of his company and his longtime partner Greenbaum. They have been in business for over twenty odd years, surveyors since their arrival to this newly minted state, forty ninth of the current fifty.
Jim mentioned on how he worked a crew in Florida for a few years after completing school, he was not much older than I, and up to an undisclosed turn of events was forced to leave and start anew elsewhere. He trekked the country until ending up here on this small island. Not as much of an ass as my first impression after all.
The purpose of our expedition explained
The rest of that afternoon spent on arranging sleeping bags and discussing the planned work. We find that we are not the first crew to conduct the surveys here, explaining the lack of our transporting survey equipment this time around. It was stashed in the storage igloo awaiting our arrival. Harry has hired others crews previously. Quickly adding that he hopes we will be the last. He adds that he has a trusty crew this time, implying nefarious activities with the others.
When were they here? Sometime in July. Why did the hob service not tell us about this? This was the first time he hired out of Kodiak city.
Arrival to our remote destination
There waiting for us on that beach was Jim Purdy, the last member of the expedition (actually I was the last). The image of a tall lanky southerner was of a professional with a serious affect was not what I expected. His shock of red curly locks with a matching thick beard he was the epitome of what an Alaskan mountain man looked like. Dressed in tan Cardhart pants with dark brown knee patches (one of three he packed for the two week, knowing the value of packing the bare essentials) and a red and black checkered flannel shirt, this man knew how to dress for the elements. A hunting rifle was slung over his shoulder.
Takeoff from Kodiak City to Ugak Bay
Our transport was a small Piper Super Cub single engine plane that only seated two, one front and one back, and barely enough room for supplies behind the passenger seat. It was already packed with another batch of supplies by the time I arrived.
Harry was the aviator.
Meeting the new boss before departure
On that mild October morning I met up with my new boss, Harry Waterfield, on an airfield near the same dock where he interviewed me just the day before. Upon receiving the job I had only one day to settle my affairs and prepare for the two week assignment. So I temporarily quit my position at the cannery, surprisingly with no hassle given. This apparently happens often. Being that they are always in need of warm bodies to work the year round fishing, and people arriving seasonally, they have grown accustomed to the quick turnaround of daily workers. Resuming the job upon my return should be no problem.
About the Author
I have always ended up in unexpected places. So I present a collection of my tales told over the years. Places that due to circumstances I might never go on my own accord.