27 March 2007

Into the Richardson Divide

Today SnowSTAR left the Porcupine River "Highway" they have been traveling on for the past week and headed into the Richardson Mountains which separate the Yukon River watershed from the Mackenzie River watershed. These mountains represent one of the major terrain obstacles for the expedition, but they are following a very well-known trail through a very historic travel corridor. It is fun to think about all the people, sled dogs, trade goods, hikers and snowmobiles that have made their way across these mountains along this very same trail. Here are the reports they provided me tonight on todays travels from the comfort of Camp 12. The first soundclip from Matthew is missing the first 4 seconds but he talks about the search for the "MAD TRAPPER" which took place in this area a long time ago:

Click Here for Todays Soundcip from Matthew Sturm.

CHUGIAK STUDENTS Click here for Weather Report in Espanol

Dispatch, March 27, 2007:  Curtain Mountain Cabin, 70 miles (110 km) from
Ft. McPherson

Camp 12 Location: 67º 20'N,  136º 39'W

Sunny, -20ºC (-3ºF), No wind.  Overnight low: -30ºF

Kids----What is TAIGA?

We traveled from the Porcupine River to the LaChute River today via a
portage (a route across land from one river to another, or from one lake to
another).   The portage wound through miles of taiga.  Taiga is the forest
of the North, also know as the boreal forest. There are a lot of trees and
plants of the taiga, but the ones that are most characteristic of the North
are the spruce trees: both black and white spruce.  The attached picture
shows Matthew (holding his hands so he makes the letter "T" for taiga).

The little spindly trees are black spruce. The bigger trees are white spruce.
The little black spruce can be quite old. A tree as tall as a person might
be 50 to 60 years old.  They grow in moist boggy terrain where there is
permafrost and cold soil.  Growth comes hard, and they need fire to seed and
regenerate.  They are gnarled and spindly, but with snow on them, they can
be beautiful.

Tomorrow, we will climb up over a low pass in the Richardson Mountains.
When we cross, we will finally have left the Yukon-Porcupine watershed
behind, and will enter the drainage of the MacKenzie.  More on this



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