The Return to the North

They promised me the bugs would be gone by now. They lied. Granted it is much better than it was last time I was up here but I am still fighting off mosquitos that I wish would hurry up and freeze.

We did another couple of days in the Birch Mountains as an extension of the project we were working on before. We did a fair amount of walking through the forest which was rough going with all of the deadfall – my shins are delightfully black and blue from that. the next day we attempted to use the argo more; however, this time our argo did not fair quite so well either – I suppose that’s what we get for letting my boss drive. He pointed the argo at the forest and decided to drive over everything between us and the well pad site – this generally consisted of trees, a lot of trees, big trees. Not surprisingly we got the argo stuck very deep in the middle of a heavily wooded area with no hope of getting it moving again on our own.  In the end we had to hike the 2km back to the helicopter, holding our helmets in shame.

We had to hike in the next day with saws and clear an area around the argo large enough that the helicopter could lift it out for us. Thankfully we were able to get a replacement argo in rather quickly.

We’ve begun a new project up here now, it is south of the Birch Mountains and is much more low-lying – this means that it is obscenely wet everywhere on the lease area. I’m pretty sure the entire area is straight muskeg. We surveyed 35 well pad sites and only 2 of them look like they will have enough dry ground for us to actually do shovel tests on.

This area has a lot more wildlife though which is a nice change, we’ve seen a lot more birds in the area, as well as small things like mice, squirrels, rabbits and a coyote. There is definitely a bear or two in the area but they have been steering clear of us which is just fine by me.

I’ve been working on my navigation skills the last couple of days. Generally I get lost going everywhere, apparently this is not a desirable trait when in the forest. I seem to be doing better with a gps and a map now, just needed to get the hang of it. No one will give me a straight answer though on how many days of good navigation will earn me my orienteering badge.

We’ve gotten the argo stuck in the muskeg/lakes twice now and had to use the winch to pull ourselves out – this is a tricky feat when all the trees in the area are brittle and dead. The muskeg creates this floating mass of moss and roots over the standing water and you never quite know how deep the smelly black water will be. In some areas the muskeg covers over entire lakes – cool. The first time we got stuck it was very deep and lake-like indeed. We ended up sitting so low in the water that the treads couldn’t grip onto the muskeg enough to get back up onto it. The second time we got stuck we were attempting to cross what turned out to be a bit of a lake when we became hung up on some deadfall hiding under the surface. Thank goodness for winches and tall gum boots.

What’s getting a bit high…

Trust me, it’s deeper than it looks








He gets to hook up the winch because he’s got the waders


The black smelly water






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