by Dan Doty, Associate Producer on MeatEater crew
The shoot for episode 1 started with the worst news we could imagine. The day after we landed in Ketchikan the forecast called for a storm, a really BIG storm. We looked at the Doppler online and there was a massive swirling formation that literally stretched across the Pacific Ocean. I’m not exaggerating, it touched Japan on one side as the other side was about to converge on Southeast Alaska—just in time for our shoot. What the hell were we doing?
Our first and biggest worry was that we wouldn’t have a window of weather good enough to fly out to the island, but we got lucky. We boarded our Otter on time and flew out and into the lake with bluebird skies and just enough time to get our camp set up and locked down. As we buzzed in we calculated the direction of the prevailing winds and chose a camp settled right up in a low-lying cove that offered protection from the coming tempest. Right as we finished hucking our tents in little hidey-holes and double-securing our group tarp shelter, the rain started to fall. We were set up, had strong shelter and were dry for the time being. We went to bed.
The first conscious thought I had when I woke up a few hours later was (and I’m not joking) “so THAT’S what a dragon sounds like?!?” The noise was unsettling, a high whine blended and a subterranean roar at the same time, thundering up the canyon from below and over our hidden lake. Rain was smacking my tent in gusts, and every few seconds the rainfly would shake hard, but everything held strong and I knew we’d be ok. We’d chosen well.
The winds blew hard for about 12 hours and then relaxed down to a steady 30-40 miles an hour for the next two days. It made hunting uncomfortable but not impossible, and we were treated to a few blocks of sunshine every once and a while. We had a successful hunt and a successful shoot, and like magic, when it was time to fly back the blue skies came back and we were treated to an incredibly clear view as we flew back to Ketchikan and the world.
Our pilot informed us that the winds were over 80 knots that night, close to 100 miles per hour. We literally withstood a hurricane, stayed dry, stayed safe, and shot a hell of a show.