Remote Arctic Fails

We think that this blog post may have gotten lost in the satellite phone email ether and the email carrying the original text might currently be headed out of our solar system off into the outer Milky Way galaxy.  On 20 June, after being on the island for five days, we penned this blog post focussing on the failures and successes of our early days on the island.

Remote Arctic Fails:

Wet boot fail: Decide to ignore warnings on stream depth and test it out to double check. Proceed to get trousers, water bottle aaall muddy and yucky. And a superbly wet boot.

Drinking water fail: Have a complex system of jugs, pots, pans and various other chalices to keep track on what is snow water for washing and what is lake water for drinking. Proceed to drink a lot of snow melt water, and with it plant bits and grit, over the first five days on the island.

Google Drive Fail: Spend hours on beautiful spreadsheets; including schedules, inventories and other lists. Fail to double check Drive syncing, offline read-mode and saving as .xlsx. Proceed to rip out hair on Qikiqtaryuk when many of the documents refuse to open.

GoPro Fail: Take GoPro out on the field, and set it up beautifully to film an amazing muskoxen encounter. Get incredibly lucky and catch a head-butt-display by two ma-huussive young rams; just after switching GoPro to 4K Ultra HD Mega-rad Money-shot mode. Get home and proceed to bury face into hands, after realizing there’s a huge raindrop bang in the middle of the lens; blocking the muskox completely…

Wiring fail: Use banana-plugs that were accidentally soldered in reverse leading to a short circuit and a melted battery cable.  Oh dear.

Tool kit fail: Totally lose the tools including four secateurs/clippers, needle nose pliers, screw drivers, volt meters and all sorts of useful general tools – not in Kluane, not in Inuvik, not on Qikiqtaryuk as far as well can tell.  Kluane Crew can you look out for them for us, and bring them to the island if you find the missing tools???  Don’t worry though, the Drone Kits and the rangers have lots of tools too, so we are still able to work away here.

Vihta: Get very specific instructions from the Finish member of your team on how to collect birch stems for using in the sauna, get the clippers ready to go collect them, but leave it to the last minute and get the call that your charter flight is going to go ahead, so you don’t have the time to collect them after all.

Drivers fail: Make sure to download all of the latest software to our new Windows 10 operating system and then find out that the telemetry software has an out of date certificate and gets blocked by Windows.  Edward saved the day by bringing the updated drivers via memory key to the island… thanks a million Ed!

Freshies fail: Be super optimistic and purchase loads of fresh mushrooms, lettuce and peppers and then watch them turn to mold right before our very eyes, while there is still plenty space in the fridge where they could have happily lasted another week.

Coffee press fail: Keep your coffee press right next to the hot flame on the stove melting the plastic down one side.  It is still mostly functional, but not so elegant anymore.
Field book computer fail: Bring your brand new Macbook Air to the field to set up the phenocams in a light rain and manage to cause thankfully temporarily water damage with funky colour patterns along the edges of the screen.  Even the technology rice didn’t solve the problem right away.
Texting while hiking fail: Texting while hiking using your In Reach and then accidentally dropping your iPhone into the Arctic Ocean.  That’s all you Paden – we don’t even have an In Reach.
Aȓaa, qanurviitchuq! – Oh bother, too bad/It can’t be helped

“Remote Arctic Wins”:

Charter wins: Fly to a remote arctic Island for two months will all of our equipment, food and gear – though not all of our water and fuel on two well packed Twin Otter flights.  Thanks Alkak!  The rest of the stuff will come on a future flight.

Swimming wins: First dips in the Arctic Ocean! It isn’t so cold after all, especially after a nice warm sauna.

Dog wins: Hang out with the really cool dog Mansa.  Paden’s dog is a jolly companion for everyone in Pauline Cove.

Catch wins: Games of catch with well-inflated balls around camp (inflated using our new pump from Northmart).

Phenocam Win: Set up phenocams on lovely tripods at the phenology transects, plant composition plots and at the shrub repeat photo site.  Data collection underway!

Plot set up win: Set out ground control points on two drone plots.  Check!

Drone wins: Build LiPo charging station, assemble drones, fix wiring issues for now, etc.  Check!

Cooking wins: Make some delicious meals including veggie lasagna, pasta bakes, thai curry, char, etc.  Check!

Birding wins: See some pretty sweet birds with Cameron Eckert, parks biologist including the common loon (tuullik), common (qaigavik) and king eider (qingalik), sandhill cranes (tatiȓgaq), brant (Nirlirnaq), lapland longspur (putukiluk), snow bunting (amauligauȓaq), northern harrier, rough-legged hawk (qilgiq), semipalmated plover (taluyaaq), semipalmated sandpiper (livalivauȓaq), balck guillemot (inagiq), common raven (tulugaq) and more… Check out the really cool book Tingmiluit – A guide to the birds of the North Slope book by Maria Leung, Pam Sinclair and Cameron Eckert that has been our picture and inuvialuktun guide to the birds we have been seeing (add link to book here).

Wildlife wins: Seen caribou, muskox, belugas, seals, toe eaters (large and scary marine isopods that live in the Cove – up to 15 cms long!!!)

Kikiagaa! – Nailed it!

Happy Solstice everyone!  We will be celebrating in style at our solstice potluck feast on a windy and rainy day with the midnight sun out there behind the low clouds and fog.  We will also be putting the seven flowers under our pillows tonight to find out our future following the Finnish tradition.

Hyvää Juhannusta!

By Santo, Isla and Team Drone

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