Today was most likely one of the most exciting days in the trip; our flight to Nester 1 in Wapusk National Park by helicopter. I had no idea what to expect for the ride but I was ecstatic just to be fortunate enough to have this stupendous experience. We woke up to clear blue skies as far as the eye could see and a lovely temperature for fieldwork. After finishing up some last minute packing, we waited (dressed in many layers to save space in our daypacks) eagerly for the helicopter to arrive. I was in the second group and seated beside the pilot in the front.
There is nothing like the first few moments in the helicopter. It was an exceptionally smooth lift-off and I couldn’t resist smiling the entire time. As we glided over the most beautiful landscape that I have ever seen, it felt like I was in the midst of a National Geographic documentary. There were beautiful, crystal-clear bodies of water sprinkled all over the green, green tundra. Unfortunately for my parents, my pictures will never be able to do this place justice.
We arrived at Nester 1 Field Camp and we all thought, ‘how am I ever going to leave this?’ We began to set up our tents after a quick tour of the facility, however the tent stakes were nowhere to be seen, so we scrounged for nails and pieces of metal wire in the tool building. As Julie says, ‘Flexibility is the arctic f-word.” The rest of the ISAMR kids leaked in throughout a few more helicopter trips and we settled down to a simple but delicious meal of bannock, cheese biscuits, veggies and sandwiches. We set out for a quick hike across the tundra to a fen site and found a lemming nest and multiple caribou antlers and skeletons. A few caribou pranced around us in a curious manner, perfect for photography.
We enjoyed the pleasant weather throughout the afternoon and hiked back to the camp. We stopped at an arctic fox den with 8 pups, though we only saw the mother fox poke her head out. On returning to Nester 1, we began data analysis and transfer from the field, as well as supper preparation (perogies with Old Bay seasoning and veggies). Foxes were all around; one ran by the beach ridge to the left of the camp and a pup ventured right through the fence and across the camp.
As we settle in for bed among the curious noises of our surrounding environment, all I can think is;
‘What a carib-eautiful day!’
Marissa Hamlin Kelvin High School 19'