Gillette Pass

This 3,900 foot pass is an easy short cut when flying from Slana River to Tok, via the Dry Tok, then Tok Rivers. Although when flying from Mankomen Lake to Tok this winter, Gillette Pass was socked in. Instead, we flew down Slana River to Tok, via Mentasta Pass – which was barely VFR.

Entering Gillette Pass from the West, or Slana River side

Entering Gillette Pass from the West, or Slana River side – snow pack in May

Gillette Pass is also an important landmark when chasing caribou and sheep in our hunting area. Gillette Pass is the dividing line between Game Management Unit 13C where our moose hunting camp is located, and Unit 12.  The borderline is drawn at the peak of the pass, where water flows in opposite directions off the pass.While we’re hunting moose primarily, we do stalk the gullible Caribou. To hunt, or actually possess, a caribou in Unit 13C you need a draw permit or Subsistence permit. In Unit 12, a (harvest) tag is all that’s needed. Both sides of our family have received Tier 1 Subsistence permits for Unit 13 in past years, including 2015 season.

A draw or Subsistence permit is acquired during Alaska’s “Drawing Hunt Permit”, or lottery, process. The information and instructions for a Drawing Hunt Permit is given in the Drawing Hunt Permit Supplement usually circulated in early November.

Caribou harvest tag is applied for and obtained online, from a Fish & Game office, or a sporting goods store.

Dall Sheep hunting in Unit 13C is by harvest tag – full curl or larger. Sheep hunts in Unit 12 are controlled by Tok Management Area rules and draw permits – still full curl or more. The dividing line for Sheep permits or tags is also at the peak of Gillette Pass. Beware, Tok Management Area does not follow the borderlines of Units 13C and 12 entirely. Sheep hunting regs and boundaries are kinda confusing within and near the TMA.

I haven’t purposely hunted sheep in twelve years,  but if there was a full-curl within good probability range, I’d do it again.

The waters of the Gillette Pass flow east and west. Western flow is a short run to the Slana River and eventually into the Copper River. East flowing water forms the Dry Tok River, dumps into the Tok River, then Tanana River, and into the mighty Yukon. I have peed in both drainages.

Water flows opposite directions at this point

Water flows opposite directions at this point

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difficult…

…to sneak up on a sleeping Loon. My ex-girlfriend attempted kayaking closer to photo the Loon’s gorgeous intricate feathers. She’d slowly drift towards the Loon, and just as she’d reach the distance to change to a non-telephoto lens, the Loon would swim away. Better luck next time.

Eye is open and watching

Eye is open and watching

Even when approaching from the rear, there is an eyeball on ya

Even approaching from the rear, there is an eyeball on ya

Loons skeedaddle when you penetrate their personal space boundaries

Loons skeedaddle when you penetrate their personal space boundaries

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loud jobsite

I’m praying it doesn’t backfire while I’m working here.

Ultimate loudness as they taxi out of parking

Ultimate loudness as they taxi out of parking

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table with a view please

Enjoying a peaceful coffee, during that quiet lull after the float planes took off and before the boats start tugging water skiers.

Summer morning at Fire Lake, Alaska

Summer morning at Fire Lake, Alaska

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federal government buys foreign trucks

I wonder how my WWII vet grandpa would feel about our Federal Government buying foreign autos. I know he was a true believer in Americans buying American-made (but he wasn’t an obnoxious zealot about the topic). My other Grandpa would keep his opinions to himself on high and haughty issues such as this – although I’ve heard the frequent drinking sessions with his buddies were overrun with animated opinions.

No way! US Air Force bought a Toyota?

No way! US Air Force bought a Toyota?

For myself, the distinction between foreign-made and American-made is kinda hazy these days. I do understand profits generated on American-made autos stay in America, which is important. The more important aspect in my little mind is that the jobs created help Americans – that’s jobs created either by foreign auto companies’ U.S. factories or American auto factories. And in my opinion, America needs more jobs as our population grows.

While I buy American-made trucks for our business and myself (a Ford man), my ex-girlfriend loves her Acura MDX.

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truck fillstand coating

We were awarded an Air Force contract to coat the concrete containment areas at all Elmendorf AFB JP-8 fuel truck fillstands. An easy project, and relatively easy to schedule – provided you discount two items: 1, the reluctance of POL personnel to close truck fillstands during Air Force exercises (exercises which seem never ending this summer), and 2, the aspect of no coating application during rain.

Top coat applied to concrete at three truck fillstands

Top coat applied to concrete at three truck fillstands

The purpose of this contract is to comply with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation regulations regards sealing containment areas where fuel trucks load/offload or fuel  trucks are stored. Which in this case means sealing all cracks and joints with a JP-8 resistant impermeable coating. This effort is to prevent fuel (JP-8) from seeping into the ground through openings/cracks/crevices in the concrete.

Prior to coating prep, we repair cracks with high-strength patching compound (mortar), then caulk all cracks and control joints with a flexible joint sealant. Once sealant has cured, we clean the concrete with Muratic Acid, followed by a pressure wash with unadulterated water. After drying til the next day, we apply a coating of high-build, epoxy primer (I’m not really positive on the meaning of high-build). The subsequent day, we apply the top coat of anti-skid, super-duper, thick, epoxy paint.

The top coat has a sand already mixed in. So each 5 gal bucket weighs 90 pounds, contrasted with 5 gallons of water at 40 lbs. There is some groaning from crew when lifting bucket number ten and pouring contents on the concrete.

We’ve been spoiled by Elmendorf’s recent bout of primo sunny weather. So the cleaning, priming and coating has occurred sequentially each day. When the normal summer rains hit in July, we’ll likely have to schedule fillstand closures for longer periods to account for rainy days.

The high build primer looks like a swimming pool

The high build primer looks like a swimming pool

Very heavy texture

Very heavy texture

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we named him “Burger”

Momma moose and a calf swam to the island in front of our house last night. Somewhere after swimming back, the calf was separated from its mom. So the calf stayed in our yard today calling for mom and laying still. Hope they’re reunited soon – that call is a sad sound.

They didn't stay on the island for long

They didn’t stay on the island for long

Good swimmers

Good swimmers

Hangin out with our daughter’s bow target (a black bear)

Hangin out with our daughter’s bow target (a black bear)

Maybe letting him cozy up to a plastic black bear is bad conditioning

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