Last Sampling Day – January 30, 2011

Mission almost accomplished!  We made it back out to our ice camp today to collect our third and final set of samples for this trip.

I once again dared to ride the sled (and yes with Zac driving) because I wanted to take some video of the trip out there.

Marc using a harness to ride the sled

However, this time I rigged up a harness to wear that made staying on much easier. It worked and I was even able to comfortably hang on to the slide one-handed while I filmed the trip. I’ll try to post some of that video on YouTube soon.

The weather was much warmer today, and we even got a little hot in the ice tents with the propane heaters running. Now that we’re almost done, we’ve really got the routine perfected and everything went smoothly.

While waiting for the Bronk group to finish sampling so that we could begin collecting our water, Zac and I took the opportunity to explore around the camp a little. The bear guard (Reynold) is required to accompany any scientist that strays from the camp because if a polar bear did show up we wouldn’t have a chance on the ice. As Reynold put it, “It’s their land and they have the advantage.”

In our explorations we came across a natural structure formed by colliding ice pressure ridges called an ice house which was really fantastic.

Marc in the "ice house"

I was sure that a human had built it, but Reynold assured us that it was natural. Of course both Zac and I had to go into the house and have our pictures taken. We also climbed up a few small ridges which afforded some really nice views of the camp and its surrounds. Zac talked Reynold into letting him pose with his shotgun.

Zac on bear duty

I learned later that the gun was actually not loaded while Zac had it. The procedure is that only if a bear is actually spotted is the guard allowed to load the gun. I sure hope a bear doesn’t surprise him.  Sounded a little bit like Barney Fife to me. Remember, Sherriff Andy Griffith would only let him have one bullet and he had to keep it in his pocket?

After collecting all our samples and tying them back down on the sleds it was back to the lab for another day of filtering water. Again my harness worked well, and I didn’t even come close to falling off. Zac drove especially carefully as well.

Everything went well in the lab, but this time we had a little trouble with our filtration rigs freezing. We finally got the cold room to our target temperature of -1.8°C (28.8°F) which was great except that every time it warmed up a little bit the compressor and blowers would kick back on and bring it down to -2 or -3. This was just enough to cause some freezing in our equipment.  Frozen water doesn’t filter very well it turns out. So we combated freezing problems until we were freezing ourselves and the job was finally done.

After putting the samples away and cleaning-up a little bit we headed to the girls cabin (hut) for some homemade chicken soup that Lollie had made. It was delicious and nothing beats a bowl of hot chicken soup when you are cold to the bone and all you’ve eaten is a package of instant oatmeal 9 hours earlier. Still hungry though after the soup we headed into town to our favorite restaurant in Barrow (Arctic Pizza) for the second course.

Marc on “Top of the World”

All in a day at the “Top of the World”


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