There is "before" and "after" July 11th. For about 15 days, to go to work, Eric used successively his feet on the first kilometre, our dinghy to cross another two kilometres of open water, the Green Edge pick up loaded with equipment and scientists from town to the "DEW Line beach" where are parked the skidoos, and finally snowmobile for 18 km on sea ice until the ice camp. On July 11 came the airboat, unique mean of transport able to go in all conditions from uniform ice to open water. Little revolution, noisy but funny to watch!
20 minutes à pied sur la banquise depuis Vagabond jusqu'à l'eau libre, puis 20 minutes en annexe pour traverser le chenal entre l'île Baffin et l'île Broughton (parfois avec l'aide du GPS pour se repérer dans la brume), puis 20 minutes de piste en pickup depuis le village de Qikiqtarjuaq jusqu'à la plage la plus proche d'une bonne banquise, et enfin 45 minutes en motoneige jusqu'au camp de glace de la mission GreenEdge. C'est le parcours que je fais chaque jour depuis que la banquise n'est plus praticable entre le bateau et le village !
Aujourd'hui, le brise-glace Amundsen (en mission pour GreenEdge également) s'est approché à environ 30 km du camp de glace, où l'hydroglisseur attendu a été héliporté ! J'en suis le pilote principal, et voilà que je peux aller directement du camp de glace à Vagabond sans me soucier de l'état de la banquise... Ca secoue pas mal lorsque la glace est accidentée, ça plane sur l'eau, quel engin !
Nous sommes en plein bloom phytoplanctonique, et toute l'équipe espère pouvoir prolonger les mesures et prélèvements jusqu'à la fin du mois, grâce à l'hydroglisseur, en sécurité sur une banquise qui fond à vue d'oeil.
Yesterday we dismantled the ice camp, I mean the largest, the big Polar Heaven tent. Only few instruments and the weather mast are still in place.
The cabin-laboratory on sled has been removed since 8 days. The ice is getting fragile, it is now scattered with black holes more than blue melt ponds. A new and very long crack has also opened across our road, between the morning and the evening!
With 9 people, including Jay our guide and Inuit friend, we needed only one day to pack the equipment and bring the tent to our landing beach. Jay used his quad this time on the ice: at least with 4 wheels he said, it will not sink!...
At the end of the afternoon all this equipment and two skidoos were back and stored in town. The day ended with a barbecue, all together, with the girls who stayed in town. Later in the evening we came back by dinghy using the GPS in a heavy fog. We had to leave our small boat outside of our bay due to the drifting ice, almost invisible, then we walked the last kilometer on the ice: Vagabond was just guessable at 200m!
This morning, open water areas appear everywhere! I don't feel completely safe when crossing the channel between Baffin Island, where Vagabond spent the last 3 winters, and Broughton Island, where is the village of Qikiqtarjuaq...
8°C, bright sunshine, wind and even quite strong tidal current: the melting is fast!
This evening, after a day at the GreenEdge ice camp, I let the snowmobile near the village and walk back to our boat, quietly bypassing the open water to the north, between the icebergs. While our powerful machines, at a good speed, are able to stay on the surface, I like the slowness and lightness of walking!
Fortunately, everything we had heavy and bulky on the ice next to Vagabond, has already been moved using the snowmobile. Last move, Aurore and Leonie's cabin was set up on land yesterday morning, just before I went to the ice camp!
The day before, we towed the dinghy with the skidoo to the open water, then we made the first crossing by boat to the village, for Canada Day. How exciting to sail again!
Today our dogs escaped. They left with necklaces and chains, freed from the ice melting. Note that this is the first sunny day after 10 days of mist and snow. Coming back from the ice camp, four of us, what do we find at Vagabond? Two seals instead of our dogs! It seemed that the dogs had turned into seals! But it was the magic of our friend and hunter Jaypootie...
No real music festival to celebrate the summer solstice... But playing with skidoos, augers, generators, ice corers, helicopter, hovercraft, drone, winch, radios, pumps... there is rhythm on the ice!
We went camping on weekend to celebrate Eric's birthday into the nature, but we finally stayed 6 days to enjoy the perfect conditions: in addition to the 24 hours sun, we saw the sea ice passing from white to turquoise, spangle of melt ponds, magic! We were only half an hour by skidoo north of the village, so Eric could go to work to the Ice Camp during the week before joining us in the evening at our camp. Every day the girls where playing with the rivers, bathing their legs on many spots. We saw torrents growing up and flooding the surroundings sea ice, we ate seal just hunted by some youth Inuit who shared with us... Beautiful and fleeting season.
Only 3 school days left for our daughters here in Qikiqtarjuaq !!! And the ice is melting, we have to change route to go to the village, not to fall through the ice!
Since the field work is fully ongoing, more and more scientists are going to the ice camp, but Aurore, Léonie and I still manage to know all of them. No more room on snowmobiles or even in kamutiqs to go helping or just discovering what spread out at the famous ice camp. From the village side, there is: the base camp, alias office-restaurant-hotel that is set-up in the old Siku hotel rented by Green Edge, and the beautiful laboratory located within the school, offered by its principal.
Siku hotel is the place for all the gossip, the meeting place for artists who come by in order to sell sealskin mittens, ulu, jewellery and figurines made from narwhal tooth, caribou bone or whalebone... but also logistics headquarters and place for exchanging ideas, and our canteen for each school time lunch: it's like going to a restaurant every day! The chef is French and do justice to the reputation of our country!
The lab looks like a real and high tech hive of activity. Under the green lights are filtered litres of sea water from different depths or examined microscopic living beings in every drop of water... Another world, full of surprises and attractions for Leonie and Aurore who love to go and help discover what is going on. Friendships are formed.
First real camping! This year we were often invited in cabins during the weekends, being again in our yellow and orange cocoon is really fun! In the first southern fjord, we set up the camp near the beautiful cabin built on sled by Celine and Yves this year. They arrive the next day with Celine's brother and two of his friends who came to enjoy Baffin slopes and snow. Nice walk and some rock climbing at the end of the fjord, aperitif and dinner shared in the beautiful cabin! But also piano under the tent (with solar panels and battery), flute and song book.