I don’t even know what day it is today. I can tell you the date because we need it for recording out data, however, S,M,T,W,TH,F,S have all been lost. After breakfast, we cleared out of our rooms and loaded them into a little yellow van which would pack to the helicopter pickup site. We took six trips out to Nester 1. As the ground sunk away our general understanding of perspective was lost. The ground felt as if it was only one hundred feet away — maybe less. Large boulders shrunk to the size of stones. The ponds and lakes seemed to be models of the real world, miniatures on a set. As 80s Rock elevator music quietly played over our headsets, the pilot flew up and over cape Churchill. Down on the cape dozens of polar bears lounged on pillows of moss and lichen. The pilot banked steeply and we swooped down into Nester 1. As the rest of the people and equipment arrived, we finished erecting our small tent city. Nester 1 consists of a well-furnished bunkhouse, a bathhouse, a large, fully stocked kitchen a number of sheds, solar panels, a tower of undetermined purpose, an observation deck above the kitchen, a large yard (designed to fit multiple helicopters at one time), a basketball net (which, due to its position against the fence requires a bear guard to retrieve one’s missed shot), et la piece de resistance – an outhouse which allows the occupant a clear view of the tundra while on the bog. All this shoved into about a one acre compound. At this time there are fewer than 30 people in the entire of Wapusk National Park and our group is over 20 of them.
Upon arrival we met the estimable Jim Roth. Jim is a professor at the University of Manitoba and seems to spend more time in Wapusk than any one other person. He is in the midst of a large study on Arctic Foxes. For our trip he added Bear Monitor to his title. We also met Jessica from Parks Canada. Jill, Jessica and Jim are our three Bear Monitors for the Wapusk. After lunch we held a brief meeting and divvied out gear. The afternoon was spent collecting data at our first Wapusk fen site. Our day ended with more complete introductions over a family style dinner, at a long table set out in the courtyard. As we ate, the sun sunk into the horizon.
-Jesse Berns-Zieve, The Park School