Working in the last frontier often presents numerous challenges but when you are working in the northern most part of the last frontier, the challenges are aplenty. Some people would consider the polar bears the big threat and they occasionally are. But some consider the brown bears a larger errr…. more relevant issue.
Just two days ago I came upon an intersection where several trucks were stopped for no apparent reason. Then the reason became apparent to me. A large brown bear has chased a smaller bear up the road and toward our camp. The brown bear giving chase appeared to notice the audience and, apparently not wanting any witnesses, gave up the chase and slowly turned off the road and headed back to the tundra. This very large brown bear was so close I could see his breath in the cool morning air. A rare up close moment with wildlife, even for a sourdough Alaskan!
But, no, the brown bear doesn’t hold the title of deadliest Alaskan menace either. And unless you are a seal, forget the polar bear. Nope, rabid foxes aren’t it either. Instead, it’s the not-so-little mosquito.
Worldwide, the mosquito holds the record for deadliest animal, if you want to call it that. It’s more likely to be a problem than the bears. Heck, they were so bad in the parking lot this week, I had to take my cap off and fan it around my head, keeping nose and mouth closed with face pointed to ground, just to avoid eating them. Problem with that, it’s difficult to see where you are going and I almost ran right into a steel pole, avoiding it only at the last possible second.
So up here in the oil patch, this time of year it isn’t anything as glorious as avoiding getting attacked by the polar bears or tending to a rig blowing out. Sometimes it’s as simple as watching where we are walking. And in this video taken by a coworker, the mosquitoes demonstrate just how difficult that might be at times.