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Arriving in Kanger — with only 3.5/7 prep days left

Updated: at 03:05 PM

It’s kind of insane how little about doing work on an ice sheet is about working on an ice sheet. We’ve arrived in Kanger… and the relief on Andrew’s face when he knew he wouldn’t die here eating raisins alone was meaningful, no doubt about it… but thanks to the three days delay we now have only ~three days total to complete our preparation for the field. The food (~4000 calories per person per day), the science platform (~4000 lbs of hardware and sensors), and the power system (16 solar panels, 20 batteries, 4 wind turbines, and an absolutely mind boggling amount of copper wire I won’t tell you the weight of), all need to be ready to go by Tuesday. Good things come in heavy packages.

Checking out and inventorying the survival bags in the warehouse before the trip.

Checking out and inventorying the survival bags in the warehouse before the trip.

In the first 1.5 days here we have accomplished a smattering of things. We set up the tents and then tore them down, and then set them up and tore them down again. The same tents we’ve set up 500 times before, but again one more time just to be sure no one is missing anything. We’ve inventoried the food, we’ve tested the power system (— again —), we have packed box after box, and some of us are even checking things off lists. We’ve made sure we have enough toilet paper at least three times. We think we have enough toilet paper if we don’t all get sick. The only casualty seems to be two vacuum sealed beet packages that were destroyed in transit. Everything else is in miraculously good shape in spite of all the vibration. All we have to do now is work for a few more days. We are beavers who organize boxes in a gear warehouse instead of logs in a river valley.

And so it seems like all the ducks are in a row somehow. But why would the ducks possibly line up so neatly into rows to be stuffed into a ski-equipped C130? It makes no sense. Also, don’t notice the plywood panels on the bottom of the pallet that we actually want on top. Always an ugly duckling I guess, and even with the ugly duckling we seem to be on track. Are we really on track?

I imagine we’ll find out if we’re on track when we finally reach day one on the ice, the “crux move” as it might be. Will we set up camp in a day? What will the first day’s weather be like? Will our flight be delayed? How long will it take to build the solar array? How many beans are too many beans? Will the lithium batteries survive the cold while powered by the wind and sun in their custom engineered blanket-cases? Will we survive the cold? So many questions but at least we’ll have some answers this Tuesday…

Cat holding her hands on her hips and thinking about food packingVon makes sure that we have all of the gear on the checkout list for camp

Left: Cat, wondering what led her to this moment in life. Right: Von, making his list and checking it twice