Extremely warm weather for this time of year has left very little snow cover over much of the North Slope and yesterday we waited in anticipation for word regarding our exception to the off-road travel closure imposed by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. Acting as though we already had permission to use them, last night we staged the snow machines at Imnaviat to give us as early a start as possible if our exception should be granted. Snow conditions for travel are best in the early morning hours and deteriorate quickly as the day warms. Aiding our jump-start, we also organized all the gear needed to supply our remote camp, including fish traps, weir material, tagging equipment and supplies, plus all the camping gear and food we’ll need for an extended stay in the headwaters. With a “Whoop!” of joy and relief, we received the awaited email from AKDNR granting us a one-day-only travel ban exception to use snow machines to stage our remote camp equipment and supplies. With the heavy gear in place, Cam and I will hike out in a few days to begin assessing and tagging the Oksrukuyik Arctic grayling migratory population. I just hope that when we arrive the fish are still in the lake and haven’t decided to spawn early this year.
6:00 a.m. and a beautiful day for cruising the tundra on snow machines. Although conditions appear good at present, we need to pack down the trail before attempting to haul our load. One quick run out to our site and back does the trick.
Back at Toolik Field Station, a walk along the boardwalk to the rapidly flowing Toolik Lake inlet allows a moment to breath before tackling what needs to be done before hiking out to the Oks.