Post and photos by Jamie Bradshaw
[This post is part of a series of real-time communication from participants in the 2012 Juneau Icefield Research Program. The program begins June 23rd and concludes August 18th.]
July 20, 2012 was a rare sunny day in Juneau, I was planning on going on a hike or up a mountain to take advantage of the sunshine. Then I got a call from the satellite phone. It was Jeff, the director of Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP). He started out the conversation with, “Hey Jamie, it’s Jeff. We want to have a flight up to Camp 10 today.” Immediately my heart sank. Sending a flight up to the icefield meant I was going to be busy most of the day and I wouldn’t be able to soak up the rays as planned. Food and supplies were going to be needed at Camp 10 (C10) and it is my job as the JIRP 2012 Logistics Agent to make sure they get what they need. Then Jeff continued with, “And we’d like to get you up to C10 as well.” I was shocked. I let out a squeal of excitement which sounded like a garbled cry from Cher to Jeff over the sat phone.
They gave me a list of groceries, gear and equipment to be gathered for C10. I called Coastal Helicopters, the company we use to fly personnel, gear, fuel and food to the icefield to arrange a flight to C10. I had 2 hours to buy the requested items from three different stores, pick up the mail and get it staged at the heliport. I eagerly gathered everything needed and got it to Coastal. After the pilots loaded the helo, they came to get me. I walked across the tarmac with the pilot, camera in hand and excitement running through me. This was going to be not only my first time going to a JIRP camp, but it was my first time seeing the icefield.
We flew up the Lemon Creek Valley, I was able to see one building at Camp 17 and got an idea of the long route JIRPers had to take to enter the icefield. When we stopped climbing the valley and got to the elevation of the icefield, the wild nunataks of the Juneau Icefield were revealed. Nunataks are the tops of mountains that are exposed because they are not covered by the icefield. Therefore, they are sharp in comparison to the mountain tops in town because they have not been eroded and smoothed by glaciers. The ragged and gnarly peaks in a blanket of snow and ice gives the icefield a magical feeling.
The approach to Camp 10 had a fantastic view of my favorite nunatak, Devil’s Paw. At 8,584 ft (2,616 m) it is the highest peak of the Juneau Icefield.
Even the Taku Towers enjoy soaking up the sun!
After roughly 15 minutes, Camp 10 was in sight and so were the field staff. I was so excited to see them; they weren’t just going to be voices over the radio for the short time that I was at C10. Once we landed and got off the helicopter, I was greeted with huge welcoming hugs from the field staff. Then they started unloading and loading the helicopter.
JIRP staff and students unloading the helicopter.
It was at this point that I discovered how rewarding doing logistics for JIRP is. The students were so happy to get the mail delivered to them on the icefield. I have also never seen people get so excited about the arrival of Tang! Everyone was so thankful and appreciative for the work that I do at “Juneau Base” which makes life on the icefield possible. I knew that my job had a lot of responsibility attached to it, but I didn’t realize how rewarding it would be until I got to fly to C10.
By the time the helicopter was unloaded, then loaded again for the return flight to Juneau, I was able to run around camp and get a tour of all the buildings. I was very impressed with the facilities. It is truly an incredible accomplishment what Dr. Maynard Miller and many more have created on the Juneau Icefield since the 1940s. After being at C10 for about 30 minutes, it was unfortunately time to leave; but not without a group photograph!
The JIRP field staff and I at C10. From left to right: Dr. Jeff Kavanaugh, Chris McNeil, Coco Loehr, Jamie Bradshaw, Marco Holgado, Cameron Miller, Zach Miller, Brad Markle, Dr. Bill Isherwood, Newt Krumdieck, Dr. Alf Pinchak (front), Scott McGee, Gary Linder
My first time to the icefield was the highlight of my summer and an experience I will never forget.
[Editor’s note: Jamie Bradshaw, as the JIRP Logistics Agent stationed in Juneau, is a huge piece of the logistics-puzzle that enables JIRP to run. Thank you, Jamie!]