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Hike to Oks2.5

There’s nothing quite like hiking on the tundra. Tussocks, wet sedge meadows, knee high willows and sucky sphagnum moss, provide challenges similar to video game-like levels, not to mention a full body workout. Today, we hiked out to our Oks2.5 antenna location, traveling through all levels of tundra to arrive at our site. This year, however, drought seems to have diminished the level of difficulty for hiking, as much of the sloppier tundra appeared crackly and dry, instead of slurpy and wet. Tom and I get a head start positioning this fish passage antenna, while Becca and Cam work downsteam on the Oks3 antenna. Later Becca and Cam meet us, as we finish the Oks2.5 antenna and head back to Toolik Field Station, making it home just in time for dinner.

Arctic blueberries this early in July? Although still a bit tart, these fresh, ripe blueberries reflect the early Spring and warm summer conditions we’ve experienced this year.

Walking through crunchy, dried waterways provides much less of a challenge for the persevering scientist than the standing water that usually presides here in wetter, cooler years.

Baked Alaska, a.k.a. tundra dried to a crunch.

Tom and I comb the river for an optimal antenna site, as the fine substrate found here allows for easy installation, but might also result in antenna loss if rain comes and water level and flow increase.

Oks2.5 antenna installed in the crystal clear water or Lower Oksrukuyik Creek. Fingers crossed that it will hold when the water rises.

Becca and Cam join us after installing and tuning another antenna downstream of this one, which will track fish moving into and out of Oksrukuyik Creek from and to the Sagavanirktok River.

Our team puts the finishing touches on the Oks2.5 antenna: An electrified, solar powered bear fence. Hopefully, the fence will keep “Big Blondie,” spotted near here two years in a row, away from our gear.

As we hike back to the haul road, my moist, leaky waders feel like a mobile sauna. Thanks goodness for the northwesterly breeze that’s been blowing all day, keeping me cool and the mosquitoes at bay.

Ahhh… Dry feet at last.

Flower of the day? Definitely fireweed.

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