23 August, 1998
August 23, 1998
Up at the break of dawn to go to the ARCSS grid in
Atqasuk (English name Meade River). Atqasuk is about
60 miles to the south of Barrow so we had to once
again board Cape Smythe Air to get there because
there are no roads to the place. The grid is about a
mile south of the runway over a mixture of tundra
types I have experienced so far. There were high and
low center polygons like those seen on the coastal
plains AND (they're back) tussocks! There was also a
stream that ran near the grid that was narrow, but
incredibly deep. Fritz tells me it is because it
probably runs over the ice wedges that form the
polygons and is called beaded drainage. What it
looks like is narrow stretches with pools over the
intersections of the polygons. From the air it looks
like beads on a string. In this stream were
Grayling, which look sort of like an Arctic trout.
The weather was also very cooperative and gave us
sun, clear skies, and a cool breeze to work in. I
really needed the weather to recharge my batteries,
even though there was no chance for a sunburn (TOY).
After probing the site Anna, Javier, and I walked the
mile or so (it seemed like 20) into town and looked
around. The population must be around 50 to 100
people from the number of houses we saw. It was
really warming to see children playing in front of
the houses and in the school's playground. It has
been such a long time since I have seen people other
than adults, I had almost forgotten about the
innocence of youth.
The flight back to Barrow was in a single engine
plane and the pilot never got above 100 feet so we
were able to see a lot of detail on the ground. I
saw a herd of caribou running across the tundra, many
polygons, and the meandering of the Meade River, all
while being buffeted by the winds. If the weather
was like this up here all the time, people would be
flocking to Northern Alaska by the thousands.
After dinner, it was a night in the lab, entering
data and trying to stay awake. We have been going
like gangbusters since early August and our time is
nearing an end. In fact tomorrow we should be done
with our data collection. This will give us a whole
day to visit the sights around Barrow on Tuesday. I
can hardly wait!
Atqasuk what can I say about Atqasuk? The town is
very homey. There are children playing and doors
open. It has been a while since I have left my door
open at home and still felt safe. To say more about
this humble community, the largest building in the
actual town is the school: a marvelously new-looking
facility raised above the ground and on the top of a
small hill. This whole town is the epitome of a
youthful America, back when America consisted of
rural towns and friendly neighbors - not that I would
prefer to live 40 miles from the next town (Barrow).
It is a little too isolated for my tastes, but the
view of lakes and bluffs is extraordinary.
After we returned to Barrow, we worked (as Don has
said) like gangbusters (whatever that means).
Actually, I spent the evening doing the tail-end of
my homework for the summer.
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