Today was a big day for the three of us. In fact, it’s what we have been waiting for. We woke up to thick fog that almost ruined our plans – but with motivation we set toward the Port to start sampling. In our two groups, we sampled two plots and then Peter got the call – Patrik, the Swedish pilot, was on his way in the helicopter (aka “the ship”). A helicopter – in Alaska – in the Tundra. This is the day we have been waiting for. Elisa and Kali were sent off to one of the 4000 m plots with Beth and Peter close behind and set off to another 4000 m plot. Helicopter rides are where it’s at, especially with a fun but safe pilot. The doors are strangely light, the ride surprisingly smooth and the view is what one would expect – breathtaking. Each group encountered diverse plots today, rich with bryophytes and vascular plants. This pleased the lichen enthusiasts (let’s be honest—us nerds).
Although each day we may feel any combination of sore, sweaty, tired and itchy (mosquitoes seem to be starving here), I believe that I can safely say that we are humbled to be in such a great place studying such fascinating things with such a great team. Also, the group of folks that work at the construction camp, where we are staying, has been so extremely helpful and welcoming to us. We seem to stick out a bit – we get asked a lot where we are from. We are slowly getting the truck traffic lingo down, though—so from our muddy truck and from far away – some may even mistake us for miners!