Life and Waffles in the Clouds – Plus Recipes! (Blogging From the Field #47)

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Post and photos by Kristin Timm

[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.]

On the icefield, the main means of communication with Juneau, between camps, and with trail crews is radio. When we were at Camp-18, the mountainous terrain impedes the radio communications. This is why we have Camp-8.

Camp-8 is located on a small mountain peak, at about 6,000 feet above sea level. It is essentially a radio relay station, and teams of three people take turns going to Camp-8 to do little more than listen to the radio and relay messages between Juneau and Camp-18. The messages vary widely, from grocery shopping lists to helicopter logistics—but the communication link is essential.

A picture of Camp-8, after the clouds rolled away.

Outside of this task, there is little else to do at Camp-8. Because only 3 people go there at a time, there are no major camp chores or daily duties. There are no research activities being conducted out of this camp currently, and I’m not sure if anyone ever did a project there. Because of its high elevation and location near the icefield divide, we spent most of the three-day stint in the clouds.

What did I learn at Camp-8? I learned what it is like to be in a cloud. And, if you are at Camp-8, it’s not that bad being in a cloud! Outside the approximately 12 by 20 foot room, the wind howls anywhere from lightly to strong 30 or 40 mph gusts. Within Camp-8, there are various recorded wind speeds written on the walls and furniture from previous Camp-8 inhabitants. If you look outside, it is like being inside a ping-pong ball—completely white all around. The precipitation coming from the white varies like the winds—from small drops that just hang in the air to large drops that fall sideways.

The best thing about being in the clouds is the waffle maker. Period. When you are at the larger camps, it is impossible to have waffles because you would have to make them for 30+ people. But, at Camp-8 there is a sweet cast iron waffle maker and only three people who need to be fed. We have embraced what field director, Scott McGee calls C2 or “creative cooking”. Almost every meal at Camp-8 has in some way shape or form, involved the waffle. We had savory waffles with a sweet potato topping, breakfast waffles with cinnamon apples, and the best yet—chili with cornbread waffles.

What is better than waffles in the clouds? Waffles with scenery!

Waffles with apple cinnamon topping. Yum!

You can try the cornbread waffles yourself! Mix about 1 cup of bisquick with 1 cup of water. Add about a cup of cornmeal, a half a can of corn, and about a cup of cheddar cheese (shredded or chopped small). Cook these in your waffle maker and serve with chili—it’s delightful!

Cornbread waffles and a cup of chili—a great combination!

Fortunately, we didn’t spend the whole time at Camp-8 in the clouds. The morning before we left, the clouds opened for a few hours. We had just enough time to summit Mount Moore and get some spectacular views and photos of the surrounding landscape.

A beautiful morning to summit picturesque Mount Moore, which is just over 7400 feet above sea level.


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