August 8, 2012 Ten Marathons, 29 days = A good field season
This morning as I perused my news page online over 6:45 coffee, I came across an article that announced '62% of Americans take at least one 10 minute walk per week.' Bravo! This fact less than filled me with national pride when I thought of the other 38% and the likelihood that they did not in fact 'run' those same 10 minutes. In the same vein however, I got to thinking about the past month here at Kapp Linne and a few statistics. We've been here for 29 days of field work. Today, Wednesday the 8th, was our last day on Lake Linne and in the field. In those 29 days we've each probably had about 3 glacier days on average, a few half days, and one rest day that most everyone went on some sort of extended hike. Putting those numbers together that accounts for about 54 miles running to and from Linnebreen and 208 miles for the daily activities to and from Linnevatnet, the karst, and everywhere is between. 29 days, 262 miles. That doesn't seem like all that much when you think of the things we've seen, the 2,259 photos I've taken, and the lbs (done with metric for a bit…) we've carried. Had you asked me a year ago though if I thought I'd be joining the equivalent of the arctic mall walkers for a marathon every three days for a month I'd have bet against it (262 divided by 10!).
This last Wednesday was spent many different ways for folks on the Svalbard REU and AG212 course. A large group headed glacier bound to bring back the last of the gear, while Lauren and Sara each worked on their last thesis recon. for this trip, and I finished the day with what has been my default limnological friends Mike, Helena, and Dion on the lake gathering the temporary traps we'd set just weeks earlier.
The traps all proved to contain more than adequate sediment and thus Helena could be guaranteed a thesis. Some had smaller amounts that were best filtered and saved while others ranged between the average amount we'd gathered from year long moorings to even flowing over the receiving tubings and into the funnels.
Numerous times throughout the day we recanted stories from the field season and made our last goodbye waves to different areas of the Linne valley. The day ended with wind and rain but glimpses of blue sky to the east as we hiked over the ridge for the last time on our way to Isfjord Radio. At that moment (excuse a nostalgic one), I realized that this trip was sort of a full-circle trip for me educationally as the students of the REU were exactly the same age as the 8th graders I first started teaching at my start at CVA. Just older than them at the time (22 years), I remember being humbled by the young faces in my first classroom, their expectations from me, the possibilities I saw in them. I am now equally humbled in seeing how each of these current students has gone from arctic green-horn to full blown independent researcher in just a matter of weeks. The beauty of this course/experience in Svalbard, as I told Mike yesterday, is that you don't just learn techniques by rote or simply what a varve means. Rather, you learn how to function as a scientist, someone responsible for not only completing an experiment but making sure that you complete each task for your own and the greater research and you are yours get home safely at the end. Such retrospection at the end of a trip like this should be expected but I find myself more fueled than simply fulfilled. This trip has brought up more possibilities for me than ending them and I am excited to hear each of these students' futures and how each paper, project, or scientific story will turn out. Equally, I am psyched to hit the ground running this fall and collaborate with Mike, Lauren, his students, and my own. The days are just packed and the road is wide open. So folks, I will let you know how things go in our transitions to come (Longyearbyen, presentations, flights) but this concludes a beautiful and productive field season at Kapp Linne. Thanks to all…