Fun… Fun All The Time!

Since arriving in Cherskiy, everything has been fast paced, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  From day one, Heather Alexander made me an expert at taking soil samples from the ground, I was very surprised to see how close to the surface the permafrost is!  Being in the boreal forest is incredible; everything is so green and wet.  I have never seen so much moss or lichen in my life, not to mention all of the trees.  We always leave for work after breakfast, which starts at 9 a.m.  Once the cook gives the “ok” everyone scrambles to get in line.  Since there are so many of us here, there’s a risk that we won’t get enough of our favorite food if you’re in the back; timing is everything!

A few days ago I went to Pleistocene Park with Sue, Sergey Zimov, Han, and Nigel; I had never seen so much manure in one area!  Two days ago, the whole Polaris core group hiked up Rodinka Mountain which was a lot of fun!  We took a truck ride up a good portion of it and from there we hiked to the very top, which took longer than expected.  It seemed to go on forever which I would say is a good thing.  I began to notice how foggy and silent it was once we were nearing the top.  There was a certain peace that I felt that I hadn’t felt anywhere else.  Once we began to hike the mountain, I could see that near the top were a lot of huge boulders covered in moss and lichen.  On our way back down we drove to another part of the mountain where we found a patch of snow, which triggered the most intense snowball fight of my life!  This isn’t saying much due to the fact that this was only the second time I’ve seen snow.  People were hit in the face, no one was hurt, people were shoved shirtless into the snow, and we made snow angels.


Hiking in the clouds. Photo by John Schade.

Yesterday the entire core visited Duvannyi Yar, which lived up to all of the expectations we had.  The pieces of ice that you can see are enormous.  It’s incredible to see how thick the permafrost is first hand.  The shoreline is so eroded that many prehistoric animal bones are exposed, which triggers a bone hunt every year Polaris visits Duvannyi Yar.  There are bones everywhere here!  Megan had the pleasure of finding parts of a mammoth tusk, although it was our doctor Mike who found a very rare wolf jaw which granted him Nikita’s assistance for one day.  A few of us went hiking with Nikita along the shoreline of Duvannyi Yar.  It is a very rugged walk which caused me to sink into mud up to my knees at least three times, forcing me to get on my knees and crawl out to safety; however it was Luis who took the cake when he had to lose his boots to get out of the mud when he got stuck.  Over the course of my journey here, I have realized what an amazing place this is and what an appreciation I’ve built up for it.  All in all thus far this trip here to Siberia has been an adventure to remember for the rest of my life!