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2018 Summer Arctic Trip

August 11, 2018

Park ISAMR

It was cloudy this morning as we woke up at 6:30 am to begin our journey to Nestor One field camp from the CNSC. The first order of business was breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, bacon, sausages and biscuits at 7:00 am. Then, we scrambled to gather our gear before the helicopter arrival at 8:00 am. After a quick briefing on helicopter safety and Nester One, the first group of people boarded the chopper. It took five trips to drop off all of the field gear, food, tents, personal gear and students. The helicopter ride itself was approximately twenty minutes and was absolutely stunning. We flew over beautiful landscapes of beach ridges, lakes and marches and some even saw two sets of polar bears, a mom and a cub, resting on the tundra. The sensation of the helicopter ride was akin to being picked up by a giant, as if we were in a suitcase, and being tossed around as it swung its arms. Upon landing, we all helped to unload gear and set up camp. Nestor One is a field camp originally set up for researchers monitoring Canada Geese and is comprised of a bunkhouse, which is usually only used by the adults, a kitchen building, bathrooms, an outhouse and an open area. It is enclosed by a bear-proof fence and has running water, although we have to be conservative with our water usage. The students mostly stay in tents in the open area and it makes for a very cozy sleep, with the tundra wind howling by. There is a deck on top of the kitchen that serves as an observation tower for watching wildlife, taking pictures and hanging out. One of the crucial jobs when we arrived was to set up the tents the students would be sleeping in. This turned out to be a more difficult task than anticipated, as the different tent parts (rain cloth, poles, actual tent) were all jumbled together. So it was a puzzle figuring out which tents had all their parts and had the right parts to begin with. There was also the issue of who got which tents. Some people had claimed tents before they were all set up and then there was the issue of numbers (9 boys and 10 girls divided up into 5-6 three-to-five man tents), so needless to say, it was a bit of a mess. Eventually we got it figured out, and during this time people had kind of ate whenever they felt like it. We had about 30-40 minutes to get stuff put away in our tents and to prepare for the afternoon activity. We had a short hike out to a fen to collect data. It was an uber site, which means that we take all of the data twice with different students doing each job in order to compare data and make sure that there isn’t researcher bias. After collecting the data, we walked back to Nestor One, rested for a while, then ate dinner. Terry made cake, which was really good. We had a quick logistics meeting and then we all turned in for the night.

-Sam 

August 19, 2018

Park ISAMR

 Today was a jam packed day! We not only collected data at two more sites, we also explored the town of Churchill and spent the night at the Prince of Whales Fort. Before heading out to our last two data collection sites we had a delicious breakfast at the CNSC. Out in the field we were efficient. By this point everyone was proficient in their plant identification. After collecting data we ate lunch and took a quick nap on the spongy lichen. After our hike back to the bus we headed into town where our junior ranger friends gave of a tour of all their favorite places. We bought snacks and souvenirs. Later, we took a zodiac to the the fort. We set up our tents, made a fire and played games. We ended the night toasty by the fire watching northern lights and talking.

 - Lexi and Corinne 

August 18, 2018

Park ISAMR

Today we spent our final hours at Nester 1. We woke up at 8:00 and had cereal, oatmeal, toast, and French toast for breakfast. After we finished eating we packed all of our gear and cleaned up camp. The first chopper came at 9. Ryan’s field course students were coming into Nestor 1 as we were leaving. It took 5 trips to get everyone and everything out of Nestor 1 and to the CNSC. As we flew over the park, we could see the destruction of the land caused by the snow geese that Jill had told us about. We got some sick pics. Everyone was so estatic to shower for the first time in a week. Once we arrived at the CNSC we raced to the showers and unpacked. We were all very excited to have the scrumptious food prepared by the cooks at the CNSC for lunch. The omnivores had Mac and cheese and salad, and the Vegans had a wonderful bean chillin sauce on pasta. After lunch we went to C5 and C6 (two fens)  to collect data. They were so close together that we split up the group and were able to do both sites at the same time. Probing these sites was the hardest task we have ever done in our entire lives. There were knocks and bruises but after a while we were able to get it done. As you probe the active layer, you go through a layer of clay. The clay sticks to the probe  which makes it very difficult. The fun group took advantage of this and made face masks out of the clay (fun group = Lexi+Ian+Mark+Anna+Aralyn). We had an extremely bumpy ride back on the bus that the CNSC provided for us. We made it back just in time for dinner. We had salad, vegetable fried rice, barbecue chicken, and the vegans had sesame tofu. After dinner we went to Deacon’s (a Junior Canadian Ranger) family’s greenhouses in town. He grows tomatoes, lettuce, raspberries, peas, raddishes, rubarb, potatoes, limes, and many other crazy things. They use some of the food they grow for their hotel that they own in town. Than we split up from the adults and got a tour of town from Terry (a Junior Canadian Ranger). We explored the complex which includes a hospital, a school, pools, basketball courts/gym, a movie theatre, an ice rink, a library, and many other things. When we got picked up by Julie and Mark, we got locked out of the bus but luckily we have some petite members in ISAMR. Sam heroically crawled through an open window and let us in. We drove back to the CNSC through a thunder storm. We began preparing for our departure to the fort. It’s unbelievable that we just woke up this morning in Wapusk, and now we won’t ever see it again for another year, hopefully. Today was a very busy adventure.  

- Alayna and Ian  

August 17, 2018

Park ISAMR

 We got to sleep in nice and late today until 8:30. We went outside and smelled some delicious food in the kitchen. After a breakfast of delicious eggs, sausage, and vegan friendly foods, Corinne and Ian led us in some partner yoga stretches. We then got ready to go on our short hike to the southern fox dens. We ate lunch, and afterwards we played a “beary” fun trivia game. After the game, we packed up and hiked back to Nestor one for the afternoon. Some of us decided to take some time to relax by taking a nap in our tents. After a couple hours we heard presentations from Jill about her job working for Parks Canada, and the overpopulation of snow geese. We then had a scrumptious meal of tacos and prepped camp to leave Nestor one on the chopper the next morning. We ended our time here with basketball game that will go down in the history books before getting surprised by a delicious cloudberry crumble. We wrapped up our wonderful week here and hit the hay, ready to go back to the CNSC.

Caleb and Hobbs

August 16, 2018

Park ISAMR

 We woke up this morning to the sound of the helicopter whirling and the smell of eggs and bacon. Hobbs, Marissa, Jill and Julie headed out on the helicopter to visit the southern sector of the park and sample permafrost wells, while the rest of us ate a quick breakfast and packed for the day here at Nester One. Two Parks Canada employees also joined us for the day. One of them was a yoga instructor, and led us in our morning stretch. The morning was spent taking data at a site around the lake closest to Nester One. We came back to Nester for lunch to make Kraft Mac and cheese. Yum! In the afternoon, we visited another site close to Nester, and came back well in time for a delicious dinner of chili and salad. At the family style dinner table we played telephone and “pass the rock.” The sunset tonight was beautiful as we watched from the observation deck. The night promises no clouds which means an Aurora borealis and many shooting stars are on the horizon (literally).

-Anna “it’s gon’ be a while” Connors and “One Boot” Greggles

August 14, 2018

Park ISAMR

 We started the day with eggs and bacon cooked by Jill. After breakfast Ian led us in stretches. We packed up and were excited that we didn’t have to carry or wear our hip-waders today. We hiked North 4 kilometers to our first site. The site was soft and mossy. Most of us changed into our crocs or sandals to keep our boots dry. When we were walking up the hill to leave the site we saw a caribou. We walked to the beach, which wasn’t as far as we thought it would be. It was low tide and we set our fire up below the high tide line. The high tide line was marked by crunchy, black seaweed. Terry, a Junior Canadian Ranger, started the fire while we collected wood and then we roasted hotdogs and veggie burgers. The veggie burgers were extremely hard to cook and Ian’s kept falling in the ash. He said it was still good. After eating we walked down to the tide pools. People found fossils of coral and seashells. Greg was suspiciously good at finding them. We gathered around the fire after walking around a while. The fire was going out and as we sat around it we talked about what we were grateful for. Next, we took a nice picture in front of the tide pools. That was followed by trying and mostly succeeded in making a human pyramid for a picture. As we hiked out of the beach we saw a polar bear. We all took out binoculars to look at the bear. We hiked back the way we had come to get to our second site, which was a fox den. It was covered in purple fireweed flowers. We had to take data quickly because it was an active den. We could tell it was active from the smell. We hiked back to a nice warm dinner cooked by Jill, Alayna and Kaylynn. Dinner was chicken, potatos and salad. We had brownies for dessert. As we were eating our brownies the power went out. We lost power and water during the night, but the issue was fixed and we had power in the morning. It was a tiring but fun day.


Alayna and Parrish

August 14, 2018

Park ISAMR

 We started the day with eggs and bacon cooked by Jill. After breakfast Ian led us in stretches. We packed up and were excited that we didn’t have to carry or wear our hip-waders today. We hiked North 4 kilometers to our first site. The site was soft and mossy. Most of us changed into our crocs or sandals to keep our boots dry. When we were walking up the hill to leave the site we saw a caribou. We walked to the beach, which wasn’t as far as we thought it would be. It was low tide and we set our fire up below the high tide line. The high tide line was marked by crunchy, black seaweed. Terry, a Junior Canadian Ranger, started the fire while we collected wood and then we roasted hotdogs and veggie burgers. The veggie burgers were extremely hard to cook and Ian’s kept falling in the ash. He said it was still good. After eating we walked down to the tide pools. People found fossils of coral and seashells. Greg was suspiciously good at finding them. We gathered around the fire after walking around a while. The fire was going out and as we sat around it we talked about what we were grateful for. Next, we took a nice picture in front of the tide pools. That was followed by trying and mostly succeeded in making a human pyramid for a picture. As we hiked out of the beach we saw a polar bear. We all took out binoculars to look at the bear. We hiked back the way we had come to get to our second site, which was a fox den. It was covered in purple fireweed flowers. We had to take data quickly because it was an active den. We could tell it was active from the smell. We hiked back to a nice warm dinner cooked by Jill, Alayna and Kaylynn. Dinner was chicken, potatos and salad. We had brownies for dessert. As we were eating our brownies the power went out. We lost power and water during the night, but the issue was fixed and we had power in the morning. It was a tiring but fun day.


Alayna and Parrish

August 12, 2018

Park ISAMR

 Today was a long day. Everyone woke up at 8 and by 11 we had our lunches packed, water bottles filled, and after a few group stretches we were ready for the hikes that were to come. It was a two and a half hour walk to our first destination. At our first site we took vegetation sampling data at fox dens. That was interesting as we had not performed that type of procedure before on the trip. After the work at the first fox den was concluded the group moved on to the second fox den. The next location was a caribou calving site with Ryan Brooks, the co-founder of ISAMR, and one of his grad students, Cassidy. By the time we were finished our work at the site, the sun had set and we rushed back to Nestor 1. In total we hiked approximately 16 kilometers in 10 and a half hours. Then we ate burgers,rice and vegetables. Later, we entered data and watched the northern lights.


-Terrance, Mateo

August 13, 2018

Park ISAMR

Today was a shorter day than usual. We woke up at the same time as yesterday, and we ate pancakes. Lots of them! After we ate we did some stretches, with Caleb, a student, as the instructor. We then packed our lunches, and started to get our gear field ready. We left around 10 and collected data at two sites. During our hike we spotted some caribou. The ground was mostly watery, and there were a lot of plants we recognized. ISAMR worked quickly and effectively, when we were in the field. We hiked back, and everyone was hungry! The bathroom line up was big too! We ate chips with salsa, while waiting for supper. We had pasta for supper. Ryan Brooks the co-founder of ISAMER, gave us a presentation on the land of Wapusk and how some of the land now came to be. After a good guide on the land and Ryan’s personal history with the park, we went out to have puddings. It was a great night.

~Jae, Kaylynn~

August 10, 2018

Park ISAMR

Today was our first full day of field work. After eating a delicious breakfast at the CNSC, we headed to our first site; a fen. We both took macro data on the site, despite the cold, we completed our work in time for a great lunch. After lunch we headed to our second site; our first bog! This time one of us collected micro data, and the other measured ALT value (active layer thickness).Throughout the day we continued collecting plants for our duo-tangs, which we later finished that night. The hike back to the vans was brutal; but we made it, we walked through boreal forest covered in water. That night we got home for dinner at 5:30 for tacos; after dinner was finished, we prepared for our move to nester 1 tomorrow. After all the work was done we wrapped up the night with a dip stiggy creek, lots of fun, lots of shivering, and lots of bugs. We rushed back to the CNSC for warm showers and a fabulous talk by Ryan Brook, who informed us about the helicopter safety, and what to expect at Nester 1. The day was long and amazing but we are more than ready for bed, but so excited for tomorrow. 

-Corinne, Olivia  

August 9, 2018

Park ISAMR

Eleven of us had an abrupt wake up at 5 in the morning in the basement of Jane and Jim’s house. We all scrambled to change and pack as fast as possible and then rushed to the airport. Luckily our plane was delayed and we had time to have breakfast at the airport. We got on a tiny plane en route to Churchill and even got a shoutout on the plane. Slowly the landscape changed to beautiful fens and bogs that looked really lush from the air. We then touched down and walked into the smallest airport we had ever  seen. We loaded our enormous pile of luggage into a truck and boarded a bus to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC). We got a tour of the CNSC, got our rooms, and had a delicious lunch. We gathered our gear and prepared to set out on the tundra. We piled into some cars and drove to one of the sites to practice. Unfortunately it started to rain so we had to go to a different site. At this site we put on our rain gear and went out to collect plant samples that we memorized the names of, prior to the trip. We flattened the plants into folders using tape. These are called duotangs. Then we rushed to a barbecue with the junior rangers and hung out there getting to know eachother and eating some great food. Finally we watched the sunset over the water at Cape May. Both of us are looking forward to tomorrow and what the rest of the trip brings.

-Claudia and Mesra

August 8, 2018

Park ISAMR

Today was the first day of our long arctic adventure. We met at Julie’s house at 4 in the morning, packed our cars, and left for the airport. Our first leg of the trip had a small complication when they wouldn’t let Mark Dhruv, the GIS expert, on the plane after he got stuck in security, but it all worked out. This was my first flight ever. I didn’t know what to expect. The airport was pretty sweet, I got smoothie king and didn’t have to wait in the line very long, but the plane ride was different. I got some pretty bad motion sickness that didn’t go well with the fact that I only had one hour of sleep. I wore my trusty sea bands (which help prevent sea sickness) so everything worked out. Our first flight took us to Minneapolis. We dashed to our second flight which was in a much much tinier plane that took us too Winnipeg. For lunch we went to this amazing falafel restaurant that had plenty of vegan options. Shortly after, we met our new friends from Kelvin. We did some “speed dating” and played team games to bond a little bit. Everyone was so nice. By the time we finished our games, it was about noon. The day was barely over. Then we practiced probing the ground and looking at macro data. Finally we had a big pizza dinner with the Kelvin kids and our hosts, Jane and Jim, and some past ISAMR members. It was a very exciting first day. We are all very eager to get some sleep after a long day. 

-Ian