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2014 Summer Arctic Trip

The Trip Blog for the 2014 summer research trip.

Aug 7, evening


Today we hiked 30 kilometers to Cape Churchill, where the polar bears frequent. It was an exhausting hike, but it was so worth it when we saw several polar bears, two caribou and lots of bones all while enjoying our beautiful surroundings. We started our hike around 10:30 and we saw plenty of landmarks as we walked.  We saw the Tetons and the hunting blind. The hunting blind was coated in Xanthoria elegans, an orange lichen that is found on rocks in the arctic region. Since most plants that are found in the arctic grow slowly, the fact that the plant was so thick means it was hundreds of years old. Hundreds of years ago those rocks were used by native people to hide from the caribou and kill them. The Tetons looked super tall from a distance but they were actually small hills.

For a few hours we were just walking with some quick breaks to admire some cool lichen or take a picture of caribou antlers. A few hours later we stopped for water which took an incredibly long time because the filters were not working efficiently. Since most people needed to refill their water bottles this was a tedious and boring task that only required two or three people while the rest of us sat around doing absolutely nothing. After we were bored and our Coffee Crisps were melting Annika wrote these slightly somber haikus:


The filters are slow

We are all very hungry

Morale is sinking


Middle of nowhere

The supplies are low

Morale is sinking


Third day at Nester

The coffee crisps are melted

Morale is sinking


Soccer ball is flat

Too windy to Frisbee

Morale is sinking


After this incredibly long break we walked for a few more hours till we reached the Cape Churchill Tower. At this time everyone was exhausted but I was just relieved. After walking for six hours we finally reached the tower which we spent so much time and energy walking to. Even though everyone was starving and exhausted from walking for six hours I was just relieved that we finally reached our destination. Since we the sun was starting to set we hurriedly ate our MRE rations and then we were off.

After we walked for about five minutes then we saw two bears lounging on the sand islands. It was really cool to see polar bears but it was very annoying that we barely started walking and once we saw polar bears we stopped for thirty minutes to take pictures. A few meters later we saw another polar bear which meant another chance to take a ton of pictures. After two hours of walking I felt like I was dying. My legs were very sore from the hours of walking over uneven terrain and sand my feet were developing monster blisters. The pain was nothing in comparison to the awe I felt when I saw a caribou standing near the horizon with a fiery red sky in the behind it. When we were less than a kilometer away from camp the sky was getting darker at an incredible speed. I really wanted to run the last 600 meters to camp so I wouldn’t be walking back in the dark, but I was ahead of the bear guard so I had to wait for a little bit. Once we finally got home about 13 hours later than when we started we were tired and hungry but we did have a great day and were proud of our achievement.



Bunmi Osias

Park School of Baltimore