Thursday, January 16, 2014

What an Interesting Place this Is

Yesterday I communted from home to my new work place.  Just a bit north of 68 degrees of latitude, I am two degrees of latitude north of the Arctic Circle, and some 390 highway miles (more or less) from the house.  Of course, I did not commute by highway.  Here is a photo of my ride to work.

A true "commuter" aircraft
I spent most of my shift yesterday just getting oriented to my new post and duties.  Today I ventured out on the notorious "haul road", and made some interesting observations while I was out and about.

The temperature this morning was about minus-35 degrees F (-37C), yet it didn't feel as cold as -10 does at home, even on a windless day.  Usually I would don my heavy parka for a -30 or colder day, but today I was perfectly comfortable with just my normal day-to-day 'cop coat'.  You know, the short waisted kind that offers reasonable access to your side-arm should you need it.  That's likely to change quickly in the next day or two, as we will soon be under a blizzard watch.

At one point in my patrol I encountered a small band of caribou.  The lead cow walked up to the road, and then couldn't decide if she wanted to cross it or not.  I had heard of this behavior in caribou before, but this was the first time I observed it for myself.  While they were trying to make a decision I was able to capture a couple of photographs of the animals.

Caribou trying to decide whether or not to cross the road.

Apparent noon today (when the sun is at it's highest point) was about 1:30 this afternoon.  The difference between apparent and clock-time noon is due to the way the borders of time zones are drawn, not any natural phenomenon.  At about that time I captured this image of frozen willows (the closest thing to trees I've seen all day) against the southern horizon.  This is as bright as the natural sunlight got today. 
Frosted willows against the horizon
The the light being so flat, I frequently found it difficult to view the horizon.  There just wasn't enough contrast between the color of the snow and that of the sky to discern the true skyline much of the time. 

At one point, I needed to walk across an expanse of unbroken snow to clear the frost off a road sign, so I could figure out where the heck I was located.  Had I attempted that at home, I'd have sunk knees deep into the snow and would have post-holed every single step.  I was delight to learn that the wind-blown and drifted snow up here has set up so completely that I could easily hike across the surface, leaving little more than maybe 1/4" deep prints. 

This is indeed an interesting, captivating yet surreal ecosystem, and so far I'm enjoying it.  We'll see how much I enjoy it when the winds and snows start picking up.  I may see things in a bit different light then.

1 comment:

  1. Cool Pictures of the Wolves on your site! Hope your doing well!