|Super stylish flight suit|
I don’t even know where to start! Tomorrow at an ungodly hour of the morning, I’m taking my first trip into the Alaskan backcountry for the work assignment I’ve mentioned before to the village of Wales and Ikpek Lagoon.
Preparations swung into full gear today when our NPS media specialists arrived from Utah. We had a long meeting to go over flight procedures, gear allocation, filming and photography shoots in the village, and pretty much every logistical detail you can imagine.
To give you an idea of what I’m going into, the village has 200 people and no running water, and a mainly subsistence lifestyle and culture. They recently heard about our upcoming visit, and supposedly are very excited that “the white people” are coming into town. I almost feel like some antiquated explorer heading into goodness only knows what!
Went to The Shop (our NPS gear warehouse) today and picked up everything I need, hopefully. Full flight suit, survival vest, gloves, helmet, Osprey pack, bear canister, dry bags, North Face tent, camp stove, water jug, and various other odds and ends. Now that I’m all packed up, my gear load comes to about 65 lbs, including my camera equipment needed for my job and my water supply for 3 days. Eek! Considering we can only fly with 800lbs on the 206 SuperCub we’re taking, I hope that’s not too much.
We leave Wales at 4pm and fly to the nearby Ikpek Lagoon in the Preserve to base camp with a team of archaeologists there for two nights. That’s where all the camping gear is needed, as we will be spending time there getting more photos and footage.
Each day we will check in by satellite phone to Denali Dispatch and our central office in Nome just to confirm we haven’t been eaten by bears. We’re equipped with something like 3 different tracking and emergency locator devices, and prepared to be stranded for at least 2 additional days in the case of an emergency or weather preventing us from getting out. It’s pretty nerve-wracking to think of all the safeguards we need, but at the same time I’m very glad we have them; although I’ll be totally out of communication with the rest of the world, theoretically someone will know where we are at all times.
So that’s where I’ll be this weekend — somewhere in the arctic circle, chilling with the Inupiats, archaeologists, and photographers, pretending that I know what I’m doing. Wish me luck!