Today was our first full day at Nestor 1. It all started Julie's wonderful idea to wake everyone up at 8:00 (a very nice change from what was 6:30 at the CNSC). After waking up we filed into the kitchen in a disjointed line and were all greeted by the warmth and a chorus of people dancing around each other to prepare a wonderful breakfast of hash-browns (made from yesterdays uneaten fries) and Eggs to Order (barring the burnt variety).
As the last few people scraped the final bites of egg off their plates, we started getting ready for our second fen in Wapusk. And suddenly we were off; crossing the tundra, following Jessie and Bob who held our GPS's at the front of the herd of aspiring scientists. A couple minutes later we found ourselves at the fen. As we started we soon discovered that the probing was twenty magnitudes easier than the fen we has done just the day before and as such the probers finished even before the macro plant Id-ers, who were having problems with a substance that looked like both moss and decomposing soil.
During our well deserved lunch sitting on the nearby beach ridge with an amazing breeze and a sunny stratosphere, we discussed how we were going to approach difficult situations in the field and the general evolution of the program. After we had all eaten, we pushed our field gear into a small pile and followed Jim Roth, our resident fox expert, to some goose nests, that he was checking for predation. While he and some of the kids went to look at the nests some more thirsty kids set of a little bit away to filter some water from the crystal clear lakes with our bear guards.
We soon found ourselves at a pingo, which is more or less a large hill caused by permafrost. It was here we had to let the lemming that Jim had caught a few days earlier go and who we had lovingly named Andy and who we later found out was a girl. As we let Andy free, Jill, our bear guard and a scientist in her own right, caught a baby lemming. Lemmings in the first place are cute because the arctic climate forces them the take a shape closest to a sphere. Thus this little baby ball shaped furry mass was completely adorable.
As the sun started its decent downward we all set off again until the water ran thin. Since we were close to the fox den Jim wanted to set up a camera at, some of us stayed behind to filter and some just went ahead. Water pumping is hard and slow work, so by the time we had finished the other group was heading back from the fox den already. On the way back to our cozy cage in the middle of nowhere we grabbed our gear and trudged back to camp exhausted but enlightened.
When we finally made it back to Nestor 1 and the rusty iron gate closed behind us, I don't this there was one person that didn't throw their hip-wadders off and flop on the ground to cool off after the incredibly hot day. Jill then made an offer to take anyone willing and go to West Camp Lake for a swim. Hearing this most of us rushed to grab something quick-dry or something they didn't really need and rushed off to the lake where we all ran our into the shallow water. Arctic lakes usually are flat and shallow; West Camp Lake was no exception. We ran out waiting to jump into some deep water but the deep water only went up to our knees. We made due as always and splashed around for the better part of twenty minutes until some of us went out to warm up, while the rest were more stubborn and accepted Jill's challenge of staying in the water for over half and hour. Cold and exhilarated we all head back to camp in search for some warm clothes and some warm drinks.
Dinner was almost done by the time we had all dried off. Some beautiful people had started cooking up the makings of chicken burritos and being the peoples the we were everyone helped get dinner set up. Myself and Dannia, a Junior Ranger, worked together to bake a magnificent marble cake which only finished baking once dinner was over. With the smell wafting through the kitchen there was no stopping the flow of kids and adults grabbing a piece of cake and wandering off to the other building to sit and take about countries, culture, and Caroline.
But the day wasn't over yet, Jill showed us a video she made in college about Climate Change and its effects of the citizens of Churchill. Then it twas bed time because tomorrow was going to be a hike to Cape Churchill. Jordan, another Junior Ranger, and I stayed up for a bit to take some pictures of the nonexistent Northern Lights with Bob and Akio, two Kelvin students. Their nonexistence made us sad.
But the Shooting Stars made up for it...
-Kevin Hsiao, The Park School