Scouting for Alaskan Field Sites

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered”

G.K Chesterton


Austin Jordan, Andy Angle, Cecilia Cullen


Our second full day in Alaska began with another great day in the forecast. In southeast Alaska any day that doesn’t begin and end in downpour deserves to be appreciated. To make the most of this beautiful weather, we changed our plans in hopes of completing our first field site before the inevitable rain makes our work more difficult.


After a nine-mile hike/climb on our first full day, our sleepy and slightly sore crew made our way to an intersection of two streams. Upon arrival at the prospective site, a quick inspection from Mike and Denice found the site to be unsuitable to our studies. To everyone’s dismay we had to proceed back to our vans with all of our field equipment in tow. Looking on the bright side of things, this short hike did allow us a firsthand look at the hit or miss nature of field studies.

In searching for another site, we made multiple stops along the roads of Juneau. One stop brought us to a stream full of chum salmon nearing the end of their long journey from the ocean to spawn. After visiting the Point Bridget Trail and Eagle Beach State Park, we retreated to the lodge for lunch or Sunday Mass at the Shrine of St. Therese Chapel.


After a restful couple of hours, we returned to the Point Bridget Trail for another hike and further investigation of potential field sites. The trail was an interesting mix of wooden planks and bridges, imported rocks, roots, and soggy mud. Though we wouldn’t complete any fieldwork like we originally hoped, we discovered an extensive, remarkable wetland named Cowee that we hope to return to later this week.


About halfway along the trail, some of us thought we saw our first bear sighting through a clearing. To everyone’s great relief, the perceived threat turned out to be nothing more than a couple horses grazing. We continued on our hike, through dense rainforest, past fields of beautiful pink fireweed, until we reached yet another magnificent view we could only dream of before coming to Alaska.


Austin and Sara taking in the beauty of the bay


We walked through a field of more fireweed, over a small hill, and were greeted by Berners Bay shining a mystic blue with mountains full of green spruce and hemlock in the backdrop. Having just seen the Mendenhall Glacier the previous day, this scene was a worthy follow-up, and another example of the diverse beauty of Southeastern Alaska.


After returning to the trailhead, we split into two groups: one going to the grocery store and the other returning to the lodge. While the first group shopped for dinner, students back at the lodge engaged in intense games of CatchPhrase to pass the time. The return of the shopping group brought along a flurry of activity in the kitchen, where the Amy and Del put together a delicious pasta meal that was well received. Being close to 11 p.m. Alaska Time when dinner was finished, the exhausted students and instructors headed to sleep after a long, fulfilling day.