The first morning back from the field was nice. I didn’t’ have to scramble out of my sleeping bag, put on cold clothes, unzip my tent, and lurch across the seemingly endless snowfield to the Big House. Nope, today, I rolled out bed, went to the bathroom, shaved, and moved at my normal morning pace. I went back to my room and gazed out of the window to see what the weather was like. It was beautiful! I had a view of the river and surrounding valley. It was going to be a great day!
Koni set the meeting time for breakfast to be 8:30am. At 8:29am we all strolled out to the front of the KISS building and walked to the airport cantina to eat some Greenlandic breakfast. After a great breakfast we went straight to the warehouse where we had to go through every box and crate we used in the field. Many people don’t realize that scientific research and fieldwork is a very intense operation. In our case, we had to bring all of the tools necessary to make any possible repair, extra parts, and a few odds and ends just in case. So, when we return from the field, everything needs to be dried out, inventoried and repackaged for shipment back to the University of Colorado at Boulder. It took us the entire morning to organize, label and prepare the shipping platform for the Air National Guard. We had so much fun that we even labeled Simon!
After we finished packing the gear and eating lunch, I decided to go on a mountain bike ride to find the missing Musk Ox. Up to this point, I’ve seen caribou, but no Musk Ox. I located a bike and helmet at the KISS building and while doing so, I ran into a fellow mountain biker who was heading out for a ride too! Pat is from Montana and has been working in the Arctic and Antarctic since the 1990’s. Currently, he drives large traverse vehicles across the ice sheet. I asked if I could join him on his ride and he quickly accepted. We quickly ascended a nearby ridge and rode along the top towards the ice sheet. We could see the ice sheet once we hit the crest of the ridge. Lake Ferguson, a glacial lake, was to our lower right and we figured that would be the best place to see Musk Ox. Pat stopped and showed me some Musk Ox hair on a nearby bush. He said that many people collect the valuable hair and either sell it or make their own clothing with it.
As we rode farther down the hill, we noticed some brown specs on the edge of the lake, Musk Ox! We slowly rode to the top of a nearby hill, trying not to spook the large, brown animals. It appeared that they were getting a drink at the lake. We even saw a young Musk Ox playing and jumping around.
Once we finished watching the Musk Ox, we decided to head back to KISS. The ride was quite fun! It was a combination of wide-open single track to skin shredding brush. What an adventure! The scenery was amazing. Riding along the edge of the lake was interesting. You could feel the cooler temperatures due to the partially frozen lake.
It took us about 45 minutes to return to the KISS building. What a great ride! I asked Pat how many miles he thinks we rode/hiked, and he estimated 15 miles. I agreed. That evening’s dinner of Chicken Curry was really good, especially after such a great ride.
Tomorrow we head east, to the edge of the ice sheet!