Our trusty transport back to Fairbanks
We woke up this morning and did one last half-day of work, quickly performing invertebrate sampling so that the two people staying behind had less work to do, for that day at least. Scott and Alfredo were staying behind, while Elin, Alan, Laura, and myself departed.
In the late morning we heard the whine of an engine and our ride out arrived, landing on the strip of land below camp known as the “runway” simply a flatter drier area than most of the land around.
Elin and I took the first plane out, while Laura and Alan hopped on the second one about a half hour after we left. It was a totally different world leaving, really wonderful to be able to see the difference between the flight in a month prior. In contrast to the snowbound land that we arrived in, it was now a lush green landscape, spotted here and there with ponds and winding tributaries of the Canning River.
Just to the left of center, to the left of the bend in the river shown here, is our camp
We landed at Kavik as we did on the way in, once more to refuel, and summer was already seemingly past peak here. Upon arrival I hurriedly made my way to the building with internet there, and checked my email – consisting of over 600 messages from the past month. It was both a relief and a letdown to be connected to the outside world again after a good amount of time away from it all.
The flight over the mountains heading back to Fairbanks was also totally different, with the icy mountains being replaced by gray shale and visible geology in the craggy peaks. The valleys with rivers in them were lush and green, contrasting vividly with the dead scree slopes above them. As we headed further south we saw something that had long been out of our lives – trees!
Verdant river valley in the Brooks Range
No more snow except a few glaciers on the highest peaks
Upon landing in Fairbanks real life caught up fast, and I was immediately calling people trying to figure out transportation, a place to stay, and what the game plan was for the evening. Thanks to wonderful logistical help from Manomet staff Metta and Stephen, we were able to get a rental car almost immediately once Alan and Laura landed, and were soon at our destination for the night – the home of Patti Picha, an incredibly kind lady who opened her home to travelers coming through the area, a friend of Scott’s who housed us for a couple nights for free.
A view of the Yukon River as we headed south, showing the generations of meanderings of the river, with the darkest vegetation in the center being the oldest