Thursday, July 7, 2016

Patti’s Story Part 11 ©

Scientists and Quonset Huts
Tanquary Camp is a Facility/ Camp. Back in 1982 it had one permanent quonset hut shaped metal Butler building. We didn’t measure the Butler but as I recall it was about 30’ or 40’ X 40’. The rest of the structures were quickly erected fabric shell quonset huts. Imagine a stack of large wood boxes (again all measurements are approximated ) about 16” thick, 4’ x 8’ rectangle. These boxes were opened and the process of putting the structure together would begin. They were/are a home in a box. The braces, windows, doors, shell et al are stored in the boxes. The boxes themselves become the floor and the quonset is built atop those. The fabric shell colors were dark so the insides had lights run from a generator. It was comfortable. I assumed the choice of dark fabric colors made it better for sleeping in with the 24 hour daylight.  I only saw the quonset huts assembled. The crew explained the process of putting them up and taking them down and storing them in the Butler building to me.
Tanquary Camp

Beginning in the late 19th Century, a mix of mapping expeditions and scientific expeditions began across the Arctic. In 1947 the Eureka Weather Station was established and subsequently manned. In 1957 Hazen Camp on Lake Hazen was established. In 1958, as part of the International Geophysical Year, the U.S established Drifting Stations Alpha and Bravo. Since then  scientific groups have been coming to the Arctic and Ellesmere Island to study the Geology, Botany, Climatology, Meteorology Glaciology, Ice Formation, Permafrost and Wildlife.

You can imagine, in order for this all to occur with airplanes, there is a method for leapfrogging barrels of flight fuel. We passed fuel depots during our trip. There are few of places level, solid and long enough for a plane to land. In those spots a camp went up and the fuel barrels began accumulating. It reminded me of the pictures I’ve seen of Mt Everest littered with equipment and empty oxygen bottles. Wherever humans go, there seems to be litter. During this time, Canada was making an effort to document this problem and eventually clean things up.
Fuel Barrels

In the Arctic Spring, when the groups would fly into these locations, they would pack an overabundance of food, equipment and other provisions. The cost of a flight had some calculation having to do with weight transported. At the end of the summer when the groups were departing, the value of their samples and work exceeded the value of any leftover food and gear so the rocks and specimens would be loaded but the rest would be stashed in some manner.

At Tanquary Camp the sheer volume of this leftover rubbish accumulated to the point of installing the metal Butler building. It was like a grocery store. There were mountains of inedible old canned meats and  butter. If you loved noodles and rice, JACKPOT! I enjoyed some of the instant coffee left there by the more recent British TransGlobe Expedition, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The best was the Klim (milk spelled backwards). There were old cans of Klim everywhere. It was dried whole milk and while it was tough to get it mixed in well, tasted fantastic. Until recent years you could not find Klim. They had stopped making it. BUT!! right now you can go on Amazon and purchase Klim!!! 1.76 lbs. for $18.99 + shipping if you are not a member of Prime. Wonderful Klim memories.

Along with all the food were many old komatik sleds and lots of very old gear. There were Caribou hides used as sleeping mats that were shedding badly. There were useless canvas tents and ice axes for climbing. There were old snowmobiles and some kind of small tundra buggy. All of these were old and of no more use. The arctic preserves all. The summer back then ranged in temps about the same as my refrigerator so nothing except the canned meats with the lead seals were questioned.

I will repeat the Tanquary Camp picture and add one from an old Friend, Jerry Kobalenko and add his website here. He is a famous Canadian Photographer.  You’ll see that Steger Mukluks is listed as one of his many famous magazine covers. Enjoy!

The Arctic has many faces.

Patti Steger
Steger Mukluks

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