Episode 21: Film Festival

6:38 pm Mark

The weather was fair today. The gusty Arctic blast that has been pummeling us for two days gave way to a steady but cold 15 knots out of the North. The sun made a surprise guest appearance.

Having made the decision to forego the Pole for now, and still waiting for our friends Dan Noble and David Good to show up here in Resolute, today was a free day of sorts. We spent much of the morning editing film, repairing film equipment, saying goodbye to our new NASA friend, Sarah Thompson (who headed out to the airport to catch her Air National Guard C-130 ride home….those NASA scientists travel in style) and re-routing Segment 3, trying to minimize the use of car gas. If Dan and David show up tomorrow as scheduled (even the scheduled carriers don’t keep a perfect schedule up here), and the good weather holds, our departure and route from Resolute will be as follows:

Sunday, August 24th, AM departure back to Cambridge Bay, refuel and camp south of Cambridge Bay near the Kent Penninsula.

Monday, August 25th, Cambridge Bay to Baker Lake.

Tuesday, August 26th, Baker Lake to Coral Harbour.

Wednesday, August 27th, extra weather day.

This puts us back on schedule, if it works out.

We spent the afternoon refueling the airplanes. With the weather inviting, we couldn’t resist the temptation to go fly and get some footage. Eric parked himself on a rise overlooking the lake with his telephoto zoom lense to record the take-offs and landings, while Jim worked the smaller camera and looked after the stationary float cam from the right seat of 2SF. Doug and Mark just goofed off, flying low formation along barren Cornwallis Island shorelines riddled with small ice bergs, snow-lined bluffs and frozen lakes, while Jim filmed.

A large berg was spotted west of the airport about a mile offshore in Barrow Strait. The flyboys couldn’t resist a couple of low fly-bys, finally landing next to it. While taxiing around the enormous, 100 foot high pinnacle (keep in mind, app. 7/8ths of the mass of ice bergs is under the ocean surface) we found ourselves awestruck with its beauty and majesty. I have felt this way before, in the close presence of other behemoth natural wonders such as montrous rock walls, waterfalls, moose and whales. The ice berg was a first however, and not an experience we will soon forget.

While we were loitering around the berg, one of the Borek Air pilots off the airport, heading to remote points North in one of their many recognizable red and black DeHavilland DHC-6-200 Twin Otters, couldn’t resist a berg top buzz job and wing wave to his smaller Beaver brethren, bobbing in the light swell. It was a classic Canadian Arctic moment.

With Eric and Jim satified with the day’s footage, we strolled down to the beach to conduct a scientific test of the 7/8ths theory regarding ice bergs. A couple of boulder-sized ice chunks were found on the beach and tossed into the surf. Sure enough, approximately 1/8th of the chunks’ surface area remained above water. We decided to test the theory on cameramen. Poor Eric was involuntarily picked for random testing. After a brief malay, he was properly corraled and we began the swinging accompanied by a raucous chorus of “ONE, TWO, THREE”. As “THREE” approaches, the victim invariably goes through that startled stage of uncertainty where he wonders if his tormentors are really crazy enough to go through with it. Ummmm…..I wonder.

To Mrs. Theodossiou’s 8th Grade Earth Sciences Class in Duxbury, MA: NASA’s Sarah Thompson gave us a shatter cone from the meteor impact site on Devon Island where she was testing the drill designed for the surface of Mars. These rocks have the distinctive shear marks of a destructive meteor impact, and are a geologist’s proof positive of such an event. We understand that they are only found at meteor impact sites. We will send you Sarah’s sample for your review and study, so you may confirm her claim that it is a shatter cone. We look forward to hearing back from you.

Allison’s Ornithological Report: No new ID’s today. Confirmed ID’s include arctic loons, glaucous gulls, and a very cold and hungry looking raven, who as we pass by, squawked “…nevermore.”

All the best to everyone.

The GAAA Team

2 Responses
  1. Donna Theodossiou :

    Date: August 23, 2008 @ 4:06 am

    To Mark, Doug and crew, Thanks so much for thinking of me and my students! I would love to see the shatter cone. We will be studying meteors in early October so its arrival should be perfect timing! Also, I was wondering if you found out what is causing the smoke on the “smoking mountain”. Coal deposit on fire? I also love seeing pictures of the arctic, so many lakes and eroded rock formations. I can’t wait to see your adventure as a documentary. Thanks again and continued best wishes for a successful and safe journey! Donna
    PS Make sure you take video of a compass when you reach the north magnetic pole!

  2. John Tabone :

    Date: August 24, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

    Donna- From Wikipedia
    The Smoking Hills are located on the east coast of Cape Bathurst[1] in Canada’s Northwest Territories, next to the Arctic Ocean and a small group of lakes. The cliffs, named by explorer John Franklin,[2] contain strata of hydrocarbons (oil shales), who have been burning for centuries without cessation (original inflammation by lightning). The clouds of smoke have given the region its name and have acidified the lakes during the years down to a pH lower than 2. Although the soil of the region contains much limestone, the buffer effect has completely disappeared.[3]

    The nearest community, Paulatuk, which is about 105 km (65 mi) east, is named in recognition of the coal found in the area, traditionally spelt “Paulatuuq” or “place of coal”.[4]

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