Today was a bittersweet day. It was our last day at Nester 1, and we woke up at 8 am for a quick breakfast of sausage, as well as eggs mixed with leftover burrito toppings from the night before. Upon finishing our meal, we only had one hour to pack up all of our belongings, as well as clean the whole camp. In the end, we were able to clean and pack everything. We all gathered for one final time, to spend our final hour together as a group at Nester 1 listening to a presentation in the classroom. We listened to Jackie Verstege, a Masters student studying the food web dynamics between foxes and the animals who inhabit fox dens. We were all very excited to hear from Jackie, as she had built up quite a reputation within the group of being a badass.
Before we knew it, we began to hear the loud sounds of a helicopter motor in the distance and it finally hit me how fast the time went from these six days. It felt like yesterday that I was hearing this same sound of helicopter rotors when we were anxiously waiting to leave the CNSC for Nester 1. I had this same feeling of anxiety now, but for a different reason; this time I was realizing that our trip was nearly over and that our group would never be together again, in such a remote and beautiful place. After the first 5 people from our group left, the camp began to feel different. Five university students, as well as Ryan Brook, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and the co-founder of ISAMR, came to Nester. I realized that we were no longer the only group of people who were experiencing the true beauty of Wapusk. Forty minutes later, the second flight of ISAMR students left and with half of our group gone, the remaining members and myself went onto the observation deck, to look at the empty tundra one last time. After another quick 40 minutes, it was my turn to leave. Once the helicopter landed, I was quickly shuffled outside of the gates of Nester one final time and boarded a helicopter for the second time in my life. Once we took off, I tried my best to look into the sky, as this may have been my last chance to ever be able to look out and see nothing but nature and untouched land for as far as the eye can see.
After landing at the CNSC, my sad mood began to lighten a little bit once I realized I could shower for the first time in six days. After my shower I felt refreshed and it felt amazing to not smell. Shortly after, it was time for our group to go to Prince of Wales National Historic Site. We gathered as a group once again in the lobby of the CNSC and started our short trip to the fort. After a short bus ride, we boarded a small Zodiac, which took us across the Hudson Bay, to the fort. Here we met up with some more Junior Canadian Rangers, who were going to be spending the night with us at the fort. During our boat ride, we were able to catch a glimpse of some of my favorite animals, which are wild beluga whales. Once our boat docked, we caught a glimpse of the 18th century fort, and it was beautiful. The architecture on this amazing structure is truly like no other.
Later in the night, we learned how to start a fire from Duane, a Parks Canada interpreter, who was spending the night in the fort with us. We also cooked our dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, and tofu (for the vegetarians) over the fire. Shortly after dinner, Scott, the Junior Ranger who traveled to Nester with us, came quickly to get me and told me to come quick to the second story of the fort to see something. Upon walking up the stairs, I saw through one of the holes in the walls of the fort which was used to fire cannons through, that there was a polar bear outside the fort, walking along the beach.
Later in the night, after roasting marshmallows over the fire, we saw the northern lights, for the fifth time of the trip. Any time that I could see northern lights was special, but tonight especially was probably the best and most lively I had ever seen them.
I am looking forward to a great final day in Churchill and our final day as a group.
Max Shockett, The Park School of Baltimore, 18'