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> Over the Hill and Into the Next Valley, Paradise Valley in all its Glory
post Jul 26 2005, 06:40 PM
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TREC Teacher

Group: TREC Team
Posts: 81
Joined: 27-April 05
Member No.: 11

July 22, 2005

Early in the morning team members are up and about. In a short time we will head up the ridge and cross over into the neighboring valley to continue our studies. The data we gather will allow us to compare the two valleys against each other and the South River Valley. The information will also provide evidence to support our preliminary hypotheses for Green Valley. How? If the data from this valley support the data from Green Valley we have independent observational confirmation of our hypotheses. If not, we go back to the drawing board to try and figure out what might be going on.

We expect the neighboring valley to be even more lush and green as it supports an even larger population of dovekeys than Green Valley. Arctic field guides inform us that there may be over 40 million dovekeys in the world. As the dovekeys fly over head, I’m reminded of the line from Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch comments about “All the noise, noise, noise” down in Whoville. I can relate. Sometimes, will all the nonstop never-ending noise, racket, and commotion, I think all 40 million dovekeys must be passing overhead.

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This is a truly amazing experience, one that we must preserve. Believe it or not, the noisy dovekeys create a pleasing calming experience here on the ridge. I’ve found myself sitting for hours at the end of the day just watching and listening to the dovekeys. There is something here, something special about these birds. I wonder what they will ultimately teach us. This we must preserve.

Waking from a momentary trance, we continue our climb to the ridge top. Fantastic views greet us as we crest the ridge and look south, towards the neighboring valley, our goal for the day.

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Before heading down the ridge towards the neighboring valley, my partner and I pose for ridge-top NSF Photo Ops. (Sorry about that, inside story, you had to be there)

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As we descend the south side of the ridge, paradise, or so it seems, springs into view. These views of the neighboring valley from the lower ridge show the lush vegetation supported by the massive dovekey population that calls this valley home.
I wonder, do the dovekeys call valleys home in the same way that salmon call streams and river systems home? Interesting question for the biologists.

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Study members continue their descent into the valley and repeat their experiments/observational studies conducted in the Green Valley. See Ken’s guest essay on their activities for more information on the experiments and results from “Paradise Valley.”

On the hike back to camp we were treated to magnificent view of a peaceful, almost still, bay. This picture of calm sea ice shows how the bay has changed during the storm. The bay is calm, peaceful, quiet, and smooth as glass. I wonder what it will look like later tonight?

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As we continued our hike we noticed many sights, including a snowbank waterfall.
Out of nowhere this waterfall sprung from a snow bank nestled deep within a crevasse, insulated from the warming sun and rising high above its own small valley.

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As we crossed the ridge, I remember walking across a snow bank, looking down, and thinking, “That must be a polar bear track—it looks just like the bear tracks back home, only it’s much larger.” I tried to take a picture of the track, but couldn’t get it to focus in my camera lens; it was badly washed and somewhat obscure. I never said anything to my partner as we continued on our way. Later that night I learned that another group had positively identified a polar bear track in the neighboring valley. From this information, and our knowledge of recent weather conditions, we determined that a polar bear had been in the vicinity within the last 48 hours. We do not believe that the tracks could have survived Wednesday’s storm—none of our snow tracks survived.

After dinner many of us headed to “Ocean Ridge”, the ridge above the Bay, for a final bonfire before leaving the Green Valley in the morning. Unlike many camp bonfires, we had to bring in all of our wood and fuel—there is no wood and little terrestrial fuel in the high Arctic.

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We were treated to majestic sights of Icebergs moving out sea. (See the posts on Icebergs and The sounds of Ice). Sea ice had moved in and created a completely new vista.

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The calm peaceful bay showed us another piece of her personality as she reached and enthralled us with the view.

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We even got to see a “sunset”—actually, the sun didn’t set, it just moved behind the ridge and created the illusion of a sunset or sunrise.

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Seth even provided us with another NSF Photo Op on the life of a grad student--living the good life in Greenland.

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