Thursday, November 20, 2008

Part IV, Day 15: 080804

My flight Southward is scheduled for a 6:30am take-off tomorrow, so this is my last day of research, and I need to reserve some time to pack and clean up. I convinced a Geography Master’s student from Queen's University in Kingston, Fiona, to learn to drive an ATV and come with me to the beach.

We spent about half and hour driving in circles next to the warehouse, allowing Fiona to learn to drive the ATV. The controls are a little bit counterintuitive to somebody (such as myself, 2 weeks ago) who has never driven a snowmobile or motorcycle. However, an ATV at low speed is so ridiculously stable (a different story at full throttle) that we were able to embark with confidence after a little bit of practice.

First, we drove down Thule road, one of the few roads around here that I think justifies a name. I’m not certain this is the official name, but at the end of the road lies the anthropological dig studying the Thule people. I’m hazy on the details, but apparently the Thule people lived here before the Inuit moved into the area; they had a camp or village or something here, on the shore of Resolute Bay between the PCSP and the modern village.

I put on my chest waders and strode out into the Arctic Ocean. Surprisingly, low tide was at a reasonable hour, around 10:20, so I was able to visit the beach with much of the water gone away. The water was shockingly cold, even through the thick rubber of my waders. I found a variety of amphipods, hiding under the apparently-barren rocky gravel of the submerged shoreline. Among some larger rocks at the end of the beach I found a few different species, I think, including a few larger individuals (about 4 centimetres).

We had sufficient time to also visit the bay in the town of Resolute, accessible by driving through a construction site and an industrial zone. Today is a civic holiday, so nobody was working here, but it looks fairly active. I wonder what the purpose of all this activity might be.

The shoreline of the bay here was clogged with jumbled sea-ice. Sea-ice looks and feels different from freshwater ice that covers lakes and forms icebergs. It’s crunchy and a bit softer, and a bit more greyish in colour. That could be an artefact of the boring grey substrate, though.

Here’s a picture of me, standing on a grounded chunk of sea-ice with part of the town of Resolute Bay in the background. The wet stains on my jacket and pants are from when I was holding my net and picking out amphipods; that’s salt water and will dry rapidly in this polar desert. Notice my boots: I have now worn them in the Pacific, Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico), Hudson Bay, and Arctic Oceans, plus innumerable bodies of freshwater in North America.

In the evening, I watched a jet take off from Resolute Bay airport (YRB). The dust-cloud was incredible – 2 kilometres long and ½ a kilometre high, and thick enough to block visibility for a full 5 minutes. This picture is just the start of the take-off run.

Tomorrow is my flight South, starting at 6:30am and ending in Ottawa at about 5:00pm. I spent this evening packing, and talking briefly with my new roommate, a friendly Brit just back from some geology (mining surveys) on Ellesmere Island. I promised to try to avoid waking him as I depart at some horrid hour tomorrow morning.


King Aardvark said...

Man, I don't remember any previous pictures of you where you looked quite so hairy.

I think you belong in the woods/tundra permanently.

TheBrummell said...

Yes, I got rather hirsute this summer. These pictures would have been taken right around the time my sister was arranging an appointment for me at a barber's.

Upon my return to Gueph, I almost immediately had my hairiness attended to by a professional. I look much more presentable, now.