Finally in Cherskii!
- By Boyd Zapatka
- July 10, 2008
After an early morning wake up (4:30 am) and breakfast on the way to the airport, we left Yakutsk in a small prop airplane. While there had been quite a bit of disagreement over Cherskii’s time zone and the duration of the flight, we were all very excited to finally get to our destination.
The energy level on the flight was incredible. All of the students and PIs marveled at the landscape below. Peppered with lakes and small winding tributaries to the Kolyma River, the views were truly breathtaking. We bounced ideas off each other regarding the differences in color of lakes, sediment levels, and various landscape patterns due to the permafrost. As a side note, this was the first flight many of us had been on where the flight attendant took naps longer than most of the passengers!
After landing on a dirt runway, we excitedly caught our first glimpse of Cherskii, our home-town for the next 2 weeks. The militia made a brief appearance to check our accumulation of documents (this seems to be a Russian pattern), and we boarded a bus to the Northeast Science Station. During the ride, we met Sergei Zimov, the station director. He founded the site more than 20 years ago and has conducted numerous projects on its grounds. After a quick trip, we reached our home: a floating barge. While it sounds rustic, the barge is actually quite beautiful, with 2 showers, a full kitchen and even a home-made sauna. It definitely exceeded many of our expectations. We picked bunkmates, settled in and got ready for a tour of the facilities. Katey Walter and Nikita (Sergei’s son) showed us the Station’s 2 lab buildings (where we will be working), guest house, and the fleet of boats at our disposal. Tyler,Boyd, and I went on a walk, just to survey the gorgeous landscape. The Station overlooks a tributary of the Kolyma, with views of two mountains in the distance. This is clearly one of the most beautiful places in the world (the mosquitoes have realized this as well, they are here in what seems like record numbers).
Luckily, none of us are vegetarians, as we would’ve missed out on the first dinner in Cherskii: moose, with potatoes and stew. We laid out the safety rules of the barge, with the help of Sergei and got ready for bed. Cherskii is more than any of us expected and should prove to be an amazingly interesting research location. Conversations full of thoughtful ideas and research proposals tend to be the norm, a perfect base for intellectual growth.
Going into our first night on the barge, we are well traveled, excited and ready to explore. We also keep in mind Sergei’s Rule of Mosquito:
“If you lick your hand, slap your back and have 100 mosquitoes, there is mosquitoes. If you grab the air and have more than 4 mosquitoes, there is mosquitoes.”
Student, Holy Cross