So sometimes I don’t get what I want. I wanted to go to Summit Station today and begin loading sleds for the traverse. Unfortunately a lot of moving parts needed to come into alignment for that to happen and they never quite did. You see, we needed to have good weather here in Kangerlussuaq, up at Summit, and at a third ‘diversion’ airport within flying distance (either Raven or Thule) in order to be cleared to fly . We also needed a working plane. Mechanical delays in the morning lead on to weather problems in all of the diversion airports, which eventually canceled the flight for the day.
Since all our gear, except a small daypack apiece, got packed up this morning and loaded onto the plane, we really couldn’t even work on the remaining preparations for the traverse. Suddenly being free after weeks of non-stop preparations was a bit eerie. It took a few minutes of thinking before I remembered what I like to do when I’m not working – go exploring. My consolation prize, therefore, was getting to go for a wonderful evening hike.
This wouldn’t be the first time a good consolation prize came our way. We had originally been scheduled to do our science traveling with the fuel resupply traverse from Thule air force base in northwestern Greenland to Summit. Only Chris was to go. Budget cuts and uncertainty around the sequester forced that resupply to be canceled for the year. We got a call from our program manager at NSF that started out sounding like our science trip was in the dustbin along with it. The possible alternative was for us to go out using snowmobiles from Summit station and camping – a logistically less expensive option. Downsides included cold fingers and toes and the need to lighten our payload. Upsides included freedom to travel at our own pace and deviate from the route when needed as well as the ability (and need for safety) to bring two other people to the field. Needless to say we didn’t hesitate to accept the more adventurous alternative.
My evening walk turned up muskoxen, reindeer, a fox, some beautiful scenery, and a few really neat snow and ice formations created by super dry winds sublimating the ice surface on lakes over the course of the winter. Being that we’re headed onto an ice sheet more or less devoid of wildlife, it was sure nice to get some time in among the critters today.