August 14th, last day of the trip
I’ve been incredibly proud to be a part of this group, this trip, this experience we all have shared, this little family of insanely smart and talented people. Today, waking up and all sitting down to breakfast at a little restaurant in the airport, I still didn’t quite believe that it was over. Even now, on the flight from Minneapolis to Baltimore, I still feel like I should be waking up tomorrow at Nester or in the room at the CNSC or in a seat on the long train ride or next to two others in the back seat of the van. I thought that this year, being my second year on this trip, it would be easier to adjust to the transition back to daily life, to shake the feeling that a part of me is now missing, left somewhere in Churchill and Wapusk. But I already feel it, and I know it’s going to be hard, hard for all of us. The days spent doing science and learning and adventuring are endless when you’re in the middle of them, but fleeting now they’re gone. Moments that feel timeless, like sitting at 4 AM on the platform at Nester 1, or standing on the CNSC deck watching the northern lights dance, are already slipping into the past. I find myself re-reading what few journal notes I had time to write, grasping at the ribbons of memory before they slip away like silk. We’ve all left pieces of ourselves behind, made tangible in small ways – a name written on a board at Nester, a footprint in the springy moss of a bog, perhaps our names or faces remembered by people we met.
Last year, it dulled the sadness of leaving to know that I could come back, I could apply to go on the trip the next year and be once again in a landscape that I came to love so much. But this time is not the same. Going through security this morning after our last breakfast, watching the Canadians walking away, I knew that today could be the last time I saw some of those faces in person. We kept saying these last few travel days “it’s not over yet, we still have [the train ride/the van/the plane]” but for many of our group the trip ended this morning, and for us it ends in an hour or so, when this plane lands at BWI and we go our separate ways. We’ve all worked so hard and had so much fun that’s it’s difficult to take in. I can’t even begin right now to try and reflect on these two weeks that have felt like a month. I looked around the airport and wondered if the people around us could sense that we were still miles and miles away, feel that a different sort of air hung around us – our hearts still in the North and the clear, cool air of Wapusk and scent of Labrador tea swirling in our minds. There’s something about being outside in the field all day, with my mind constantly thinking and planning and organizing – it feels good. It feels like I’m truly engaging in life. And that’s not something I’ve gotten anywhere else but on this trip.
We’re all coming home different people than we were when we set out, and that’s an amazing thing. We learned, to quote something Jordan said during a conversation, to “see the land for what it is, not what it contains.” We discovered that we are powerful, with the knowledge and ability to hold our own in the adult world of science. We learned to look at what’s around us with the eyes of others, and to be conscious of our own impact on the world. We learned with each other and about each other. I’m going to miss everyone we’ve left in Canada. Thank you all for everything you’ve given me during these weeks together.
Annika Salzberg, The Park School
Here are some of the graphs I made while at Nester 1 of the data we collected!
BONUS BONUS SECTION:
Before we left Nester 1, we students all thanked the adults who helped us so much on this trip. For a few of us, that meant writing a song for Miguel and Jill. Here's the song we wrote (while out on a hike) and who performed each verse.
A Tribute: the dramatic monologue
I need water, filtered, to drink
I need food, to continue, to think
I need hiking boots to walk along the shore
‘cuz I don’t want to hike in waders anymore
We like beach ridges to walk across Wapusk
We like eating dinner outside at dusk
We like swimming in West Camp Lake
We like eating Dania’s marble cake
Even when they say, there won’t be any sun,
We’ll still go out and probe, until our work is done
A fire at the cape heats the rations that we’ll eat,
To fill up our bellies and rest our sore feet
Our resident history teacher, Miguel’s bug-spotting is so fly
His attitude always pleasant, his cooking never dry
He keeps up our morale, even when the fens are deep
If a job needs doing, he’ll always take the leap
We like our resident ranger, who protects us all the way
Jill works to keep us safe, each and every single day
Her dedication and her knowledge, helps our group to be our best,
A teacher and a leader, she’s a head above the rest
Thank you Jill and Miguel for all you’ve given us!
This morning, waking up on the train felt like our final goodbye to a place that has come to mean so much to all of us - even though we'd already left town the night before. I barely got any sleep, so it was with a peaceful sort of drowsiness that I watched the sky lighten before sunrise. We feasted on bagels with cream cheese or nutella (or sometimes both at the same time), and hung out looking at photos and videos. I felt a little bad interrupting the fun with work, but six of us set aside a little time to do our last bit of data entry. It was around 1 when the train pulled into Thompson and we started the next leg of the journey, the long car ride to Winnipeg. Going back to the same Quiznos we went to on the way up, it was an odd sort of déjà vu – we’d all done this exact same thing before, but after two weeks together, so much had changed. The 9-10 hour ride in the vans didn’t have that tinge of awkwardness it had had before, when we were squished up against people we hardly knew. In the bigger van we played several games of Mafia, and took turns reading out loud from The Hobbit. After two weeks of minimal sleep, most of us dozed off for good portions of the ride. The other van was much more productive with their time – Natalie wrote a good portion of the Wapusk Report and Bob put together a video of us all probing.
We pulled into the Kelvin parking lot in Winnipeg at about 10:15 PM, and got to meet members of the Winnipegger’s families. We all split up to go to Akio, Bob, or Chloe’s houses – their families were incredibly generous to open their homes to the Baltimore folks – but not before agreeing to all meet for breakfast the next morning before the Baltimore group’s flight. Once we split up, Chloe, Nina, and myself decided to bake cookies – though it was past midnight – and I attempted to write this post. We eventually went to sleep at 1:30, when I gave up trying to write through my exhaustion.