Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Update 7/23/2011

Summer seems to have ended. The wind has been blowing for two weeks straight and it’s cold enough to need long underwear and down jackets. Rain, wind and clouds are the new normal.

We’re learning all about katabatic winds. There is an almost constant high pressure system over the Greenland Ice sheet and when low pressure storms move up the coast, katabatic winds blow relentlessly from the high to low pressure systems. The sound of tents flapping is the new soundtrack of camp. We have to yell in the mess tent to be heard. Whoever is unfortunate enough to sit on the windward side has to put up with the tent collapsing down on them while eating dinner. It’s like someone is kicking the back of your chair and yelling while your trying to have a conversation.

Gone are the days when I’d play guitar in the mess tent after dinner. The wind makes it almost too stressful to read a book. Anything that isn’t in a latched container or held down by a rock has the potential to take flight and whiz through camp at approximately two thousand miles per hour. I have a newfound distain for plastic bags, blue plastic tarps and anything made of Styrofoam. Gusts of wind set these things to flight, rip them apart and take forever to track down and pick up the pieces. As we practice leave no trace camping, we’ve spent a lot of time hiking after wayward trash. Of course there’s the dust too. After a heavy day of wind, everything is covered in sand and grit. It flosses our teeth, coats our hair, and our clothes are hopelessly dirty.

I’m still taking cold bucket showers every other day but now I put on a parka the second I dry off. It seems that on any given day, the maximum wind speed and minimum temperature correlates perfectly to the moment I’m blindly reaching for a second bucket of water to rinse the shampoo from my eyes.

When there is a break in the wind, the world becomes tranquil and peaceful. Two days ago between back-to-back rain and wind storms, the world became completely still for an hour. The air smelled of fresh rain, the pond was so still it reflected the mountain above it, and the clouds and wet ground turned the lighting to a soft green. I spent the hour working outside feeling immensely at ease.

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