Thursday, 13 September 2018

Seed collection marathon

This summer was cool and cloudy and not typical of contemporary summers in the Arctic. This presented a bit of problem for our research as we wanted to collect ripe seeds for germinability studies and the fruits were just not ripening in the cold summer. Thus, it was on the last day of our field season we found ourselves with no other option but to collect all the fruits and seeds, ripe or not, from our many tagged plants in one marathon push - it was a twelve-hour day but still great to be out in the field on a dry day with no bugs.
Tagged moss campion plants (Silene acaulis). The fruits were not ripe at the end of the field season when we came to collect them. Some plants were still flowering mid-August.

Then as Murphy’s law would have it, the next day was foggy and we were unable to fly out. At about 3pm the final decision was made to not fly us out that day. I took the opportunity to do one final late-day hike and headed west along Alexandra Fiord and up a peak towards the head of the fiord with spectacular views along the fiord, out past Buchanan Bay and over to Greenland.
Western end of Alexandra Fiord filled with icebergs and
a band of lifting fog boding well for our flight out the next day.
On the summit of a peak overlooking Alexandra Fiord and out towards
Greenland. The camp is shrouded in fog in the valley on the right.
Bache Peninsula and Skraeling Island reflected in
Buchanan Bay and Alexandra Fiord respectively.
The following day dawned sunny and clear with a certainty that a plane could fly in to fetch us today. There was a final bit of packing and preparing the buildings for winter including cleaning the buildings, storing all the food in the attic, hopefully out of reach if the bears and boarding up all the windows.

The gang ready to leave Alexandra Fiord.
Alexandra Fiord camp, East Ridge and
Twin Glacier as we fly out of camp.
The plane was fully loaded with 5 passengers, a mountain of gear and even some fresh fruit and vegetables that had lasted the hole field season even though we made concerted efforts to eat our way through what jokingly became known as the ‘fruit mountain’. Because the runway is so bumpy and with a heavy load, we could not take off with much fuel, necessitating a stop at Grise Fiord to refuel on the way to Resolute. Grise Fiord is the most northerly community in Canada on the southern coat of Ellesmere Island. There were spectacular views as we flew south over Ellesmere Island and again on the flight along Jones Sound between Ellesmere Island and Devon Island and finally across Cornwallis Island to Resolute.

The tiny community of Grise Fiord (population ~120)
on the southern coast of Ellesmere Island
the most northerly community in Canada.
The entrance to Grise Fiord as we flew from
the community of Grise Fiord to Resolute.
A fiord on the southern coast of Ellesmere Island
as we flew from Grise Fiord to Resolute.

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