The last night in my tent at Summit was the best night of sleep yet! I finally feel like I could get used to sleeping in minus ten-degree temperatures with the sun up all night long.
The morning started with a buzz, as everybody was working their hardest in preparation for the short visit from the Greenland Ministry of Domestic Affairs, Nature and Environment. They were coming to inspect Summit Station. Morten Leth, Head of Section in the Department of Environment and Talea Weissang, Head of Sections in the Department of Nature. As a pair, they decide if operations are safe for the environment and, more importantly, if they will receive a permit to continue operations in the future.
When the Hercules C-130 airplane landed, the crew at Summit Station jumped into action. They quickly picked up the dignitaries in the electric powered Bad Boy, similar to a golf cart on steroids, and whisked them around Summit Station to see what kind of science was happening and how the station functioned.
While the tour was occurring, I went back to my tent to pack all of my belongings. I was a little sad that I would be leaving this very special place, but knowing that I was one step closer to being with my family overrode those emotions.
After packing all of my belongings, we did one more inspection of the BSRN to make sure it was properly aligned. We had to make one final adjustment before leaving the area. The BSRN has a computer program that keeps it perfectly aligned with the sun, allowing it to measure diffuse, direct and reflected radiation. If the instrument is not aligned, then the diffuse radiation data would be lost for an entire season.
Once we completed the BSRN inspection, we went back to the Big House. We were amazed at the number of people there. A new crew of 30 people arrived for the next shift, which included scientists, technicians and support staff.
Before we left, I was sure to stop and thank the station manager, John Fonseca. John was an outstanding station manager, making sure we all knew the procedures and protocols to ensure a safe and productive expedition.
We quickly ate our lunch and started walking to the airplane. As we were walking, I looked back several times and wondered if I would ever see Summit Station again. The people and location will leave a lasting memory for sure! After one last look, we crossed the taxi way and boarded the Hercules C-130. It was a small group of passengers consisting of the two dignitaries from Greenland, Stan Wisnewski from Polar Field Services and our team.
After three slides, we were off the ground! A slide is the term used for a ski-equipped plane trying to take off. The first slide was quite slow we only hit 52 knots. The second slide, we reached 70 knots. I could feel the front ski lift off of the snow a few times and bounce back on the snow. The third slide, we reached 80 knots, enough to provide lift on the wings and get us airborne. Within an hour, we could see the edge of the ice sheet and solid ground.
Once we landed, the crew posed for a picture. I have to thank the New York Air National Guard for their outstanding service and devotion to their country. I always feel very safe when traveling with these outstanding women and men.
Everybody grabbed their personal belongings and loaded the KISS van. We went straight back to the KISS building and cleaned ourselves up in preparation for dinner at the Polar Bear with Morten and Talea. On our way to the Polar Bear I noticed that I was more sensitive to sounds, like a bird singing in the distance. It caught my attention very quickly. I guess it’s similar to hearing birds sing for the first time after winter back home. It was a good feeling, knowing that warmer times are close!
Tomorrow, I will explore Kangerlussuaq for Musk Ox! Stay tuned!