After a 3 1/2 hour trip from Maine to Boston and four flights each ranging from 4 ½ hours to 1 ½ hours, I arrived in Longyearbyen, Svalbard at 2:30 am Thursday, July19. Exhausted and disoriented from the 6 hour time difference I finally slept after being awake for about 30 hours straight (I cannot sleep on planes as my 6’3’’ 225+ lb body does not fit well in small narrow airline seats). We are now at 78° north latitude, which means no darkness. Not even close! Finally being able to crash on a bed, I slept well anyway. A herd of stampeding reindeer could have roared past my window and I would not have known it! Although we got only 5-6 hours sleep due to pressing organizational activities to do in the morning, I feel good, no doubt due to my excitement about this beautiful land and the upcoming field work at Kap Linne. Tomorrow we have survival training, which is taking quite seriously as you must contend with extreme, unpredictable weather, polar bears and freezing waters. We will be giving lectures, rifle training and survival suite training. The rifles, for the bears, if it come to that (I hope dearly it does not), and the survival suites for the 32°-34° F waters that we must boat over in high speed zodiac boats (they are the cool looking black inflatable boats used for expedition and military operations) to reach the research site and for use when retrieving data collection instruments in Lake Linne. After that we leave for Ifjord radio station,which will serve as our base camp near Kap Linne and Lake Linne for 11 days of remote field work (as if Longyearbyen isn’t remote enough!).
Stay tuned for more reports and I hope to have some photos downloaded soon.