Alaska is such a huge, diverse state that even in 4 months I have only seen a small part of it. However, I am grateful because I have seen more of the state in these 4 months than almost all tourists and many locals. It seems that fieldwork is the perfect way to tour Alaska.
A couple experiences that stood out:
1. The Denali highway is 135 miles of dirt road through BLM land in the heart of Alaska. Though the summer had been rainy, we got a gorgeous day when we were collecting on the Denali Highway. It was just so amazing to pull off anywhere along the road, hike a short distance and be surrounded by collection opportunities. It was sunny and warm, and the shrub tundra stretched out into the distance until the foothills and the sharp summits of the Alaska Range, which we could see in all of their glory. There were also plenty of ripe blueberries on which to snack. I think we collected for at least 8 hours that day, and had we not had a two hour drive home to dinner, I think we would have stayed until midnight.
2. We got the opportunity to go to the Seward Peninsula, location of historic Nome and home to numerous reindeer and muskoxen. The flight to Nome is more expensive than a flight to Seattle, so we would not have been able to go there if not for SOS. Along the three dirt roads that leave Nome, we made numerous collections over the course of 6 days. Though the days were long and often quite chilly, I enjoyed every minute of it. I could not stop thinking “I’m in Nome!” As an unexpected bonus, fellow CLM intern Ben Copp welcomed us to Nome with a salmon cookout on the beach. It was a trip that I will never forget.
I will definitely have fond memories of my internship in Alaska, and even if these memories grow dim I have thousands of photos to remind me. Here are just a few: