Sunday, July 18, 2010

Holy Invasives!!!

We just finished up a month long project pulling invasive weeds and man does it feel GREAT to be done! We got to venture to very beautiful places and get to know each other really well but it sure was tough staying motivated to do the monotonous work of pulling invasive plants for 40 hours a week for 4 weeks in a row! (not to mention making sure 6 teenagers stay motivated as well-yikes!) Some education: Invasive weeds are plants that are non-native to Alaska and disturb the natural ecosystems. For example, invasive plants can damage entire river systems and interfere with subsistance lifestyles that many Alaskans depend on, among many other things. It's very important work and I enjoyed it for the most part, it was just unfortunate that it was 4 weeks in a row of very repetitve work. The great thing was that we got to travel to some awesome places. We pulled weeds for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest National Park in North America. It's home to 9 of North America's 16 tallest peaks! We got to work in Copper Center, Slana, and McCarthy, 3 different towns in the park. McCarthy was by for the best. A very very remote town with only 70 residents in the summer, and 15 in the winter. It is BEAUTIFUL! The town is surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains and glaciers and we had an amazing camping spot at the terminal moraine of the Kennicot Glacier. We got to go on a tour of the Kennicot Mine buidlings that supplied tons of Copper to the lower 48's in the early 1900s. My co-leader, Beth, and I also took a day off to go ice climbing on a glaicer! It was an incredible experience!!

This week we are just outside of Fairbanks for another Department of Transportation project. I'm excited for a new project and a new location. I'm still loving my job, working outside, exploring the amazing state of Alaska, and working with some really amazing youth. I must say though, I am exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, (not so much physically since pulling weeds isn't too demanding). In the end it is all worth it and I wouldn't trade this experience for the world, but I am tired and looking forward to some independence. We only have 4 weeks left with the crew and I know it's going to fly by and the second we all leave I'll want to go straight back. I am just soaking up every moment I can!
Mud Face Paint!

Hiking to a Fish Weir on a Flooded Trail! SO FUN!

Bear print on the trail- HUGE!

Showing off our weed pulling
 Fun times in freezing cold lakes
We shaved mohawks for all the male crew members-they look very hard core :)
Lounging in the weed barn where we store bags of invasives
After pulling 180 bags of invasive weeds we got to burn them all!!

Our beautiful campsite in McCarthy

The view from just outside my tent of the Kennicot Glacier in McCarthy.
Ice Climbing on Root Glacier! Sooo cool!
Climbing up an ice wall