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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rain delayed

So it has been raining a bit in the Central Alaska Range - this has delayed a few things for us, but mostly we are excited that all that rain gear is getting used - we are a regular traveling outdoors/adventure wear fashion show!  This afternoon we are in Delta Junction for a bit of a grocery resupply - running out of coffee and s'mores ingredients could lead to mutiny at this point.  Tomorrow we head to the Denali Pipeline and then continue to the Tangle Lakes area - the part where we know it will rain - for three nights before a night on the north side of Thompson Pass and then into Valdez for an afternoon of free time before the ferry to Cordova (usually this free time is used for showers, postcard shopping and maybe some laundry).  There will also most certainly be a blog update - that will finally include entries from the students.  In the mean time here are some photos from the last few days.  Keep the comments coming the students love them.

Confluence of Gunny Sack Creek (alluvial fan complex) and Delta River, June 21

Nicole and Sasha on Matanuska Glacier, June 19

Mike Sachs, Mike DeLuca, Sam, Sarah, Ngozi and Kyra on Matanuska Glacier, June 19

Kyra beside Castner Glacier outflow - June 21

Mike Sachs looking for Greyling in Donnelly Creek, June 20

Mike DeLuca and Sam along Gunny Sack Creek, June 21

Sam and Sarah checking out some of the stagnant (and now melting) ice at Castner Glacier, June 22


  1. Hey, looks like a nice time! Gabby has taken over your and miss you!

  2. Keep taking pictures they are wonderful images and really illustrate what beautiful country you are traveling and researching. Great to see that you have had some mild temperatures and some blue sky before you hit the rain around Tangle Lakes. Let's see some shots of fish and other wildlife if you get a chance. For any soccer fans as you have heard by now USA advances to the World Cup round of 16 and will face a test with Ghana on Saturday. The victor will meet the winner of Uruguay-South Korea in the quarterfinals. In other words, one of those four upstart teams will reach the World Cup Final Four-amazing! Travel safely and keep learning. Thanks to Professors Garver and Cockburn for making this experience possible.

  3. Nice new pictures.(nice face Sarah!) Sox blew it last night, Pap gave up 2 9th inn bombs! BARD! 'smores and coffee, huh? Sounds like a typical college student diet! Sounds like you're getting your moneys worth out of the rain suits. Still no bears?! Good! 8 guys and 3 girls?! Lucky guys! Plugged in on Sun.? Look forward to more stories. Love you(just Sarah, sorry everyone else. I'm sure you're nice, know...)miss you.

  4. It's nice to see new pictures. Hope everyone is enjoying their adventure and dealing okay with the lack of showers. Sorry Kyra, your Red Sox are behind my Yankees by 2.5 games. Also, where there is sand, there is name drawing. (cute picture) Looking forward to seeing the next set of pictures and the student updates! Keep up the good work!

  5. Hi Sasha sweetie, sooo glad to hear that the whole missing bag fiasco was resolved without too much delay (your mom filled me in a couple days ago)....looks like you all are doing some very cool stuff, wow, great blog. Enjoy your time there, it will go quickly! Look forward to seeing you when you get home.
    XXOO Tay

  6. Friday PM here. Off to a busy weekend of softball(your team misses you!) and lacrosse in Philly.(Note to Kyra-Sox only TWO back now!)Not quite as exciting as Eagles, glaciers and perpetual light...but we'll muddle on! No real news to speak of, same BS on the political scene, World Cup excitement, and we still miss you(Myrtle flights booked, that's exciting!). Stay safe everyone. More pix(Smile Sarah!). Go Sox.

  7. Glad you all went through training - this article just came across the wires. He was in the remote wilderness near Rainy Pass which is along the Iditarod Trail 125 miles northwest of Anchorage accessible by plane and helicopter.

    Part 1

    Alaska geologist survives 2 attacks by grizzly
    The Associated Press
    Thursday, June 24, 2010; 5:24 PM

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The bearded, sandy-haired geologist was on a job in the remote Alaska wilderness when a grizzly bear suddenly emerged from the brush just yards away.

    So Robert Miller did what he was trained to do - he fell to the ground, clasped his hands around his neck to protect it and played dead.

    The bear wandered away and Miller thought he was in the clear. Pulling himself to his knees, he found out how wrong he was.

    The bear charged again and "this time he didn't want me to move. He was really thrashing me around," the 54-year-old said Wednesday from his hospital bed, his right arm and leg swathed in bandages, his left ear criss-crossed by stitches.

    Miller had been out scoping possible mining projects Sunday for his employer, Millrock Resources Inc., in a remote valley of the Alaska Range mountains near the Iditarod Trail. He'd finished for the day and was waiting for a helicopter to pick him up.

    Miller was clearing brush with a handsaw so the helicopter could land, when the bear appeared about 25 feet away.

    "When he stepped into the clearing he didn't snarl and stand up and show me how big he was. He just came for me," Miller said.

    Miller managed to pull out his .357 Magnum revolver and squeeze off a single shot, possibly grazing the animal. Then his survival training kicked in: He fell onto his stomach, dug his face into the dirt and covered his neck with his hands to protect it from the grizzly's claws and teeth.

    The bear went for his exposed right arm, gnawing and clawing it and chipping the bone off the tip of his elbow. The attack lasted 10-15 seconds, then the animal lumbered away.

    "I thought it was over, I thought he was gone," Miller said.

    He rolled over and was getting to his knees when the bear, which was only about 40 yards away, came at him again.

    "As soon as I turned, he was running already. It was shoot, shoot and roll back over," Miller said.

    He managed to fire two more shots, but with his right arm badly injured he thinks he missed the bear. Then he lay still as the animal gnawed and clawed at him.

    "It was no problem to lay there with my neck covered and let him chew. It was actually painless at that point," Miller said.

    After the second attack, Miller played dead again, lying still for three to five minutes as thoughts raced through his mind. Was the bear still around? How bad was he bleeding? Where was his gun?

    He tried to move and realized he couldn't. He was too badly injured.

    "I was just hoping my radio was still in my vest pocket and it was," he said. "I got it out and started radioing mayday, which nobody answered."

    He tried calling for help about every 20 seconds; about 20 minutes passed before a voice came over the radio.

    It was the helicopter pilot. Not knowing there had been a bear attack, he was calling in to let Miller know he was within five miles and needed to know the exact pickup spot.

    "I told him what had happened. So he came in low, just doing outwardly expanding circles to make sure there was no bear around," Miller said.

    Reassured the grizzly was gone, the pilot flew to the next valley and picked up geologist Ryan Campbell, who was trained as a wilderness medic. (continued)

  8. Part 2

    Alaska geologist survives 2 attacks by grizzly

    Campbell cleaned Miller's wounds and applied pressure bandages to stem the bleeding. That's when Miller really began hurting.

    "When he was cleaning out the wounds with this spray bottle ... it was a mixture of fire and electricity," Miller said.

    He was flown to a nearby air strip where an emergency medical technician was waiting, then taken by medical helicopter on the more than hour-long trip to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

    Miller was fortunate to have survived, said Rick Sinnott, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist.

    He should have been packing a more powerful gun, Sinnott said. "You have to be a very good shot or very lucky to stop a brown bear with a .357 Magnum."

    Miller did the right thing to play dead with the grizzly, Sinnott said.

    "Most of the time they just want to neutralize you and if you are playing dead after they swat you or hit you, you are pretty much neutralized. But if you try to run or stand right up or are screaming or waving your arms around, then they think you are still a danger," he said.

    Propped up in his hospital bed Wednesday, Miller gingerly touched what he thought were bite marks just above his buttocks on his left side. His right arm was heavily bandaged from bicep to wrist; another bulky bandage encased his right thigh, which the bear had chewed from the back of his leg to the front.

    Miller's face was unscathed except for a few scratches, but the bear nearly ripped off his left ear. Using his finger, he traced where it had been reattached with two rows of stitches.

    Still, the geologist, who until five years ago worked as a roofer, said he holds no grudge against the bear.

    "The bear was just doing what bears do," Miller said.

  9. Photos are great! Sam you look good and chill. Working on getting your dad to agree to camping somewhere in Denali, maybe next summer?? I think I got him. Nice to hear that some geologists make it out alive after bear encounters, but let's not go there! Gonna go settle in to watch the US beat Ghana with Jess and dad. Missing you, especially since Sophie is in Spain :-(. It's all good tho, happy to have my kids be able to have these experiences. Take it all in and enjoy. And keep your eyes clean, haha :-D

  10. Hi Laur, waiting to hear from you. Have been busy with parties/graduations. Gram and Gramps went to Dana's grad, they said it was really nice. Dana all excited over new laptop. Really miss you...Dad went to New York to see Nicole dance. Jb at Jemery's. Call when you can...Love You, D

  11. Sarah -
    Miss you. Whips lost 2 out of three today. Katie went 0 for 7!! Yikes! Hopefully she is storing it up for sunday. Dustin went 5 for 5! Hurt in last nights game - oh oh! US out of world cup :(
    Have fun, be safe - watch those bears!
    love Mom

  12. HI SARER! so kyle wrote on my wall about how he's been following the blog, basically letting me know that I'm the worst sister ever for not checking it yet. I checked out some of the pictures, looks beautiful up there. Although nothing can compare to the incredible view of Mt. Tom! WHOOO WESTERN MA!! So I hope you're having fun. I've only stolen a few things from your closet so far but don't worry, I'll return them promptly. Maybe. And nance I thought we agreed that we weren't going to talk about my lovely day at the plate ever again, at least not post it for all the world to see.

    Have fun! Try not to learn anything, intelligence is overrated.

  13. Love the photos.. not so much the bear story. (smile) I hope you are having fun and learning alot. Cant wait for updates -- more rain? Miss you Nicole.

  14. Hey col & lauren!

    I am not sure if you guys can read this, but I thought I would try anyways. It looks like you guys are having a FABULOUS time! I read a comment about something delta related, I hope there were some funny comments between the two of you. I love your mountain style, col those cargo pants are fab. I am on the ferry to ack where it is almost too hot to function, wish I was playing in the snow with you guys.



  15. Hi Mikey Deluca
    I am talking to Pop-pop right now and of course trying to teach him how to use the computer!!! How cool that you are on this trip. Pop-pop says he has a key question to ask you..."How is the food?" It doesn't look to me like you are starving. We love you-see you soon.
    Aunt Christine
    PS...Pop-pop says David got a hit!!!

  16. Sarah we miss you!
    Sox won last night!
    The pictures are great. Happy 4th to one and all. We will be pool side with a cold one, but wish we were there.
    Enjoy! Be safe. Make smart choices :):):)
    Love you Sarah

  17. Sarah

    Once again so jealous to hear about all the adventures. Giving me ideas for Timothy in about, hmmm, 11-12 years. Glad it is going so well for you all. I would go back to Alaska in a minute. Tim wants to move ~ what a shocker! Be safe. Can't wait to see you, your pics and hear stories.

    Love, Megan and the Tims