Life in a Blog Cabin

From the diary of:

Mel Zhang, University of Colorado, Boulder
Anne Sheehan, University of Colorado, Boulder
Pnina Miller, IRIS PASSCAL

Hellooo! We are here in King Salmon, AK to do the springtime servicing of several seismic stations on the Alaska Peninsula. Anne and Mel (me) flew from Denver, CO while Pnina flew from Socorro, NM to converge in Anchorage before making our way to King Salmon, a small fishing town nestled by the Naknek River where it empties into Bristol Bay.


Upon arriving, our first task was to get our seismic instrument maintenance/repair equipment out of storage.

Our makeshift work station in the apartment we’re renting for our stay. Photo credit: Mel Zhang

Our apartment in King Salmon is our home base, while we fly to different stations around the peninsula each day. Our “taxis” are the local pilots who fly small 3- to 5-passenger planes with a weight limit of 900-1400 pounds including human weight, gear, and fuel. In this photo, Pnina (our indispensable PASSCAL instrument technician) futzes with software on one of our field laptops:


Photo credit: Anne Sheehan

On our first day in the field, we visited our station in Egegik, one of the small villages south of us on the peninsula. Its year-round population is only 40 people and there is no grocery store; people get bush deliveries for their supplies. Our station is buried on Egegik school property, which is shut down now as the local kids are home-schooled.


Above (upper): Graduate student Mel Zhang loads a box of tools into a 3-passenger plane while our pilot Heather plays the gear-shuffling version of Tetris inside. Above (lower): The Tetris’ed equipment. Photo credit: Anne Sheehan

On our second day, we went to Kulik Lake, near which there are several lodges used seasonally for fishing, hunting and vacationing. Both this station and our first station were in basically pristine condition, which is the best we can hope for when arriving to our sites: no water/bear damage, chewed cables, or parts that needed replacing, and no issues with the data upon retrieving it.

Above: The peak called Sugarloaf by the locals, seen from the 5-passenger plane flown by our pilot, Jay. Photo credit: Mel Zhang

Tomorrow, Anne and Pnina will likely head to two villages located about 20 minutes’ flight away from each other. We’ve found a certain amount of planning ahead is possible, while the rest is done on the fly. Things like weather conditions and the availability of our contacts in the villages has a bearing on how we do things and when. We’re taking one day at a time, which is how life seems to function for most people who live out here.

Until next time,

Mel, Anne and Pnina


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