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Published 10.03.2014 | Author : admin | Category : Wooden Boat Building Kits

Each spring for as long as we can remember, we’ve installed a field camp for Jim Sedinger near Tutakoke, in southwestern Alaska.
But unusual spring weather in the last few years has challenged our plan to haul the field camp gear behind snowmobiles from the storage van where they have wintered in the village of Chevak, to the field site 20 miles away.
The Beard camp (below, left) features a drainage ditch leading from the main WeatherPort tent to the river bank. This entry was posted in CH2M HILL Polar Services, Operations, Polar Field Services and tagged Chevak, field camp put-in, Jim Sedinger, Karen Beard, Research Support and Logistics, Tutakoke on April 26, 2016 by Kip Rithner. The pictures below hint at the great side benefits that come with a career in polar research support. This entry was posted in Alaska, Arctic, CH2M HILL Polar Services, Polar Field Services, Social & Human Sciences and tagged archaeologist, Archaeology, David site, field camp put-in, Larry Gullingsrud, Polar Field Services Fairbanks staff, Tanana Cheifs Conference, Yukon River on June 3, 2012 by Kip Rithner. Kenneth Nicholls used horses to work his farm in Guatemala, a skill he learned from an Amish farmer while working at a school for street kids in Canada.
Someone told Kenneth Nicholls recently that he was “either a well-preserved 95-year-old or a big fat liar,” because no 56-year-old could pack as much living into life as Nicholls has done.
But Nicholls is indeed 56, and he really has helped found a school for street kids in Ontario, fought Apartheid with the African National Congress, used teams of horses to farm in Guatemala and Canada, and led at-risk youth on wilderness trips on five continents, among many other jobs and adventures. Nicholls grew up in southern Ontario, and as a teenager did the “classic Jack Kerouac type thing” of traveling North America by hopping freight trains and hitchhiking.
The next year he took a group of boys from the school on a month-long, military boot camp-esque, “tough love” retreat in British Columbia.
Nicholls spent six years in the 1970s splitting his time between the school, called Twin Valleys, during the school year and leading wilderness trips with a company called Educo Adventure School over the summers in British Columbia. At the same time, he was living in a communal house with South Africans and became interested in that country’s history and its struggle with Apartheid. Nicholls reconnected with his South African friends who had moved back home and were working with the African National Congress.
In 1999, Nicholls moved to Educo’s office in Colorado to be closer to his aging parents in Canada. When the economy soured, the life of a Central American farmer became untenable and he came back to the states in March. Kenet, flanked by PFS staffers Erik Lund (left) and Matt Irinaga (right), establishing the tent camp at Cape Espenberg for John Hoffecker's archeology field work. With support from the National Science Foundation, Hoffecker is investigating what caused indigenous communities that lived in the area from 800 to 1,400 AD to disappear and whether it was linked to a climate change at that time. Marin Kuizenga, PFS’s Alaska science manager, said Nicholls’ resume immediately jumped out at her. Nicholls has been in Alaska only two weeks, yet he said he liked the place and the people immediately. This entry was posted in Alaska, CH2M HILL Polar Services, National Science Foundation, Polar Field Services, Social & Human Sciences and tagged Archeology, Cape Espenberg, field camp put-in, John Hoffecker, polar careers, Seward Peninsula on June 24, 2010 by Kip Rithner. Christie Haupert helped Paddy Sullivan (University of Alaska) put in to his remote research site in Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve earlier this week. Our hosts were Lars and Meghan Nedwick, an amazingly super cool couple with a 4-year-old, Otto, and a 2-year-old, Arnie.
The next day, clear and sunny, was spent working on weather stations, including one that had been ravaged by a bear earlier in the fall, and digging snow “pits.” With a snow pack not much deeper than 40 cm, we didn’t really have to dig.


After a fitful night’s sleep resulting from -20 F temps and a popped luxury camp thermarest (always bring back up sleeping pad when winter camping), we arose to yet again brilliant sunshine, hopeful for an eventful day.
The three-plus hour ride was tolerable, as it gave me a chance to just take in the scenery and not concentrate on the driving.
We also had a State Trooper fly with us because in Shungnak there was a “perp” waiting in handcuffs to be escorted back to Kotz for an arraignment hearing. Crammed into five days I had at least five new experiences and learned a lot while I was out there. This entry was posted in Alaska, Biology, CH2M HILL Polar Services and tagged Christie Haupert, field camp put-in, Kotzebue, Lars and Meghan Nedwick, Paddy Sullivan on April 8, 2010 by Kip Rithner. About Field NotesField Notes offers our readers a front-row seat in the theater of arctic research.
Though we anchor and strap gear down at the close of each season to keep it from floating away, when we return in the spring, we contend with gear enclosed in ice and snow, as shown in the pictures below. This allows the meltwater to escape the depression that was created when we chipped out the ground below the floor panels, thus preventing flooding in the tents.
Polar Field Services’ Alaska staffer Larry Gullingsrud last week returned from spending a few days camping along the Yukon River while doing some remote work for a project we support. This week he heads out on his latest unusual task, managing a 30-person scientific field camp on Cape Espenberg, Alaska. He also uses several simultaneous first names — going by his birth name of Kenneth in Europe and South Africa where people tend to be more formal, by Ken with family and North Americans who like nicknames, and by Kenet with his indigenous friends who often have trouble pronouncing the “th” sound. Nicholls saw the impact the wilderness had on the teenagers who changed their attitudes and took responsibility for their own actions in ways they wouldn’t at home. He took a job with a company that had hotels in Vancouver, outside London and in Cape Town. While working for the hotel, setting up an international arm of the Educo guiding company and establishing his own wilderness leadership development company, he helped the ANC set up schools in black townships around Cape Town.
His friends started disappearing, his apartment was firebombed and his friends, who understood the consequences, strongly recommended that he leave the country. Friends who work at the South Pole suggested he use his wilderness skills in science support and told him to contact Polar Field Services about work.
The camp will include students from several universities as well as about a dozen Inuit elders and high school students who will visit the site. His combination of background and skills will make him an excellent camp manager, she said. They flew in to Kotzebue and rode snowmachines on flagged paths to the Agashoshak River, from there traveling up river on the Aggie’s frozen surface until they reached Paddy’s site.
As we landed at this small community frozen into a tiny spit of land surrounded by sea ice, a snowmachine whizzed by a dog-sled team.
There was just one mile of visibility when we left, but thanks to a well-wanded “road” system we didn’t lose our way. Once we learned how to manage the stove and not smoke ourselves out of the tent each time we put on a log, it made for fairly comfortable accommodations – certainly the warmest winter accommodations I have stayed in away from line power. Paddy is partly interested in how trees respond to different stressors – snowmelt, drought, etc. We shuttled a few deep-cycle batteries to the new sites Paddy will outfit with weather stations this spring.


My mind was mostly lost in thought about what we could have done to have avoided stranding a snowmachine. Instead Lars Nedwick, who happens to fly for Bering Air, offered me the co-pilot seat on a trip to three nearby villages:  Ambler, Kobuk, Shungnak. Given these structures will be home to a group of scientists for the long summer, that’s an important step.
The Amish farmer who lived there taught Nicholls to log and farm using teams of draft horses. After a few years, Nicholls, who is white, started volunteering as a negotiator for one of the country’s first black unions. But his connection to the country was strong and he returned in 1994 to work with friends connected to Nelson Mandela’s presidential campaign and to run more youth trips in the wilderness of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
In 2005 he went into semi-retirement and moved with his then wife to the farm she had carved out of the jungle in Guatemala. That led to his eight-week job as the field camp manager for a team of archeologists headed up by John Hoffecker from the University of Colorado at Boulder. At its peak in mid summer, there will be about 30 people living in the tents along the bluffs of the Chukchi Sea. Give me 100 miles of skiing any day instead of trying to keep two young boys entertained when it’s -20 F and blowing outside. The Brooks Range, like much of the interior and northern Alaska, has suffered a very low snow year. The snow pits help to characterize the snow conditions and to estimate the initial pulse of water the trees will receive at spring break-up.
We stopped in Ambler to drop off some mail, then in Kobuk we dropped off most of the passengers. At right, PFS staff uncover a skiff to allow the sun to melt the ice on the inside of the boat.
Nicholls integrated this work into the lessons with street kids, who “had to check their bad attitudes at the barn door” because horses didn’t tolerate disagreeable workers.
He soon became the international program leader for Educo and was doing training for the company around the globe. There he revived his horse skills and used them and oxen to work the farm, which he expanded to include a bed and breakfast. There was not enough snow on the ground to travel across tundra so we stuck to just the river systems. It was weird not to travel via human power, not to carry everything on my back and mostly it was weird to have a heated tent to sit in at night. Paddy even commented that he hopes this year proves to be another drought, as it always results in interesting data. There, lead investigator Robert Sattler and colleagues will mount several two-week courses this summer aimed at exposing Alaskan high schoolers to field research in archaeology. The boat will be towed on a sled the 20 miles to the Tutakoke field camp so the research groups can get back to Chevak after the river ice breaks up in late May.



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