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Day of Success Brings Perspective

4/11/2017

Last post we were hunkered down at Tesh cabin with very high winds and blowing snow. Still no plane to pick up Allen and Melanie and we needed to be getting to the next camp. Weather let up and we broke camp to depart to Inigok by 3PM. First 400 yards of the 50 mi run took about 1 hr due to engine icing issues with Rat and Shaft (Skidoo 550F’s) and then we easily cruised south across Teshekpuk and even rode easily through cross-wind ground blizzard last 20 miles.

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Thanks to Frank Urban and Matthew Whitman we had two dome huts to greet us; one for sleeping and other for cooking and data processing. Next day started nice and 70N pickup seemed likely. But soon we had blizzard conditions again and punched out 5 lakes in complete white-out thanks to GPS navigation and teamwork.

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Next day was cold and clear and we rode farther West to visit a lake in danger of drainage down a steep river bluff seeing 100’s of caribou in herds of 5 to 20 animals. But conditions worsened later in the day and Melanie and Allen still had no way out; being 5 days later than they planned. Yesterday broke bright and still and we knew the Arctic Gods had decided to cut us some slack.

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We left Allen and Melanie at around 10AM headed East to visit our Fish Creek node in the increasingly industrial area of the NPR-A. Riding was fast and mostly smooth and we completed a 100 mi loop hitting 7 lakes, borehole site TEM measurement, and terrestrial snow surveys and were back at a lonely dome by 10:30 PM; tired but elated about our day’s success. The full moon to the East and the setting sun to the West across dancing tundra. Allen's and Melanie had made it with Cpt Bob back to Deadhorse and had left us a nice snack labeled "Heat n' Eat", monster pan of nachos, and a clean dome.

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