Travel Diaries: Arctic Adventure 3

I’ve done two Travel Diaries like this before–here and here–and after dreaming of my research last night, I thought I’d pull out my old Arctic journal…

See, back in 2008, I went to the Arctic for my Masters research. I wrote in a journal everyday, and some of the journal entries are…well…surreal for me to look back on.

Like, WHAT? I did WWHHHAAAAT?? I camped out on sea ice and didn’t bathe for…how long? O_O

And I thought after surviving the HELL THAT WAS BOOK 2, I’d share another hardcore life experience with you. 🙂

The Inuit fish through holes in the sea ice. Greenland sharks are a frequent bycatch item, so we would take those accidentally caught sharks and use them as samples. But getting them through the hole in the ice...NOT EASY.

April 5, 2008

My pen is frozen, so I’m writing in pencil.  Bailey made fun of me for bringing #2 pencils, but at least the graphite doesn’t freeze!

We caught 2 sharks today.  Both males.  The absence of females is perplexing…One of them was a monster and we had to use the snowmobile to get him out.

Both of the sharks took a long time to die.  Watching them react to the knife as we opened them up and cut out their vertebrae was…Well, it was hard.  Their eyes roll around and then lock on you, and it’s as if they’re accusing you–you did this to me! But, then Bailey cuts out their eyes.

Bailey and I have decided that from now on, we’ll sever their brains first to make sure they can’t feel pain before we sample them.

I feel horrible inside about it.  I don’t mind cutting up the halibut, but for some reason, the sharks get to me.  Maybe because it’s 4 meters long and at least moderately intelligent?

Oops.  The snow on my sleeves has melted on the opposite page.  But, since I’m writing in pencil, it’s okay!

Everything is so surreal here.  We are very caught in the Now.  Cutting open sharks, baiting hooks with squid, tying knots in the rope, shoveling snow, lighting a heater, pissing in a bucket, savoring turbot stew, or enjoying a warm sleeping bag.  I don’t know what will come next, and I don’t think about it.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  Stress-free.

I am also amazed at how grateful I am for little things.  I am so thankful for my bowl of instant oatmeal and my cup of instant coffee.  I am so thankful for the turbot we catch each day and eat every night.  And the bucket–I am so thankful I can sh** in that old, white bucket.  I don’t want to go outside like the guys do…

But, I know when I’m back in the real world, I’ll go back to needing all the unnecessary “vitals”.  Ah, I’m babbling.

We ate caribou last night.  My stomach didn’t do so well with it.  It’s funny because I walked into Jesse & Ju’s hut, and there was this frozen caribou leg lying on the floor.  Apparently they eat it (and seal meat) raw as a snack.  Yeah, well, seeing how the cooked version reacted in my stomach, I’m not sure I’ll be tasting the raw one anytime soon.

Oh, crap.  My chapstick is frozen.

Remember what I said about NOT EASY? Yeah, like we needed snowmobiles to haul 'em out. But hey! You can see our "homes" in the back...

You tell me: what’s the most “hardcore” thing you’ve ever experienced?