May 9

Traveling to the North Pole, Part 4: An Excursion and a Hare

Category: animals,Arctic,Travel

There is a big, slow-moving storm hanging over us, so all air operations have been suspended.  This gives me some free time for much-needed sleep and some R&R.  A few of us decided to take an excursion using tracked vehicles.  Although I’m too suited up to be easily identified, that’s me. 


We were planning on going to “Crystal Mountain,” a local ridge where there are deposits of quartz crystals that are particularly nice, but there was an almost complete white-out and we had to turn back, because we couldn’t see the road or the terrain. The little dot in the next picture is the sun; although you can’t tell, there is a horizon and mountains in this image!

Such conditions are disorienting.  Even when it’s bright and sunny in the Arctic, distances are hard to gauge accurately, because when everything’s white and there are no familiar objects for scale, it is hard to tell how far away things are.  In conditions like these, there is simply nothing to see at all, except the occasional rock that is close by and sticks out of the snow.  Bouncing around in the vehicle, it was easy to imagine becoming motion sick; I tried not to think about it.  My eyes strained to find something to look at, without success.

Last night, when the weather was better, my friend Jeff and I went out looking for animals.  Can you see the critter in this next image (click to enlarge any image)?

Here it is, a little larger:

Earlier in this trip there were a lot of sunny days that exposed some soil and the plants that cling to the rocky surface.  Although it’s hard to believe, things do grow here: lichens, mosses, and grass.  The Arctic Hares can be found wherever this stuff has been exposed and there isn’t too much human activity.

Here’s a composite of all the things I watched the hare do: eat, dig, sit, and run.  Its “circle of fear” was about 20 feet.

One word comes to mind when seeing this plush, cute, cottony hare: Bunneeeeee!



9 Comments so far

  1. kyle cassidy May 9th, 2012 2:05 PM

    loving all this. i especially like the composite life of an arctic hare. i’d heard that everybody who went to the pole got the same “big red” jacket from canada goose, yours is blue though. what was the gear selection like & how much choice did you have?

  2. Dan Greenspan May 9th, 2012 8:37 PM

    Thanks! You’re right about the red canada goose gear – a lot of people have them. I was given a budget and carte blanche to use it up to a certain amount. I went on the recommendations of people who have been here before, and on research and recommendations from people I trust. The spending spree was a lot of fun; Arctic travel is a gear junkie’s heaven, and I found most of what I needed in Flagstaff – being a mountain town with good gear stores. I already had some of what I needed. The blue jacket is my “light” one. I have a medium black coat, and what is affectionately known as “The Coat” which has the mass of a planetoid and can protect against crazy temperatures. I have been experimenting with a lot of gear while I’ve been here, trying things in different kinds of weather. The other day I went for a two-hour walk in a stiff wind at -10F, and I keeping _cool_ was my problem. Gloves and boots are a seperate topic altogether; I’ve found the -20 ones to be barely adequate. -70 ratings are the way to go for me; for some other people whose feet feel warmer; -20 is fine. I have considered making a post just on gear. Getting dressed, depending upon the occasion, can be complex. I have three layers, and then I always have to carry spares in case I get wet. When you leave the facility you must always carry what you need to survive in a variety of emergencies. Two days ago we had a fire alarm at 2:30 AM and had to roll out of bed ready to go outside if the place burned down.

  3. Rachel Stankey May 9th, 2012 8:45 PM

    Love all your photos, especially the ones with the hare, and the orange lichen – what an amazing contrast against all that white snow.

  4. Gaelyn May 9th, 2012 11:02 PM

    Wow, and all that white is an understatement. Getting lost out there would be easy to do.

    The Bunneee is adorable. Nice to see signs of life, along with the contrasting lichens.

    Would be interesting to learn more about your gear.

  5. Sheila May 10th, 2012 4:07 AM

    Love the action shot of the bunny hopping away. Nice to see a bit of orange color on the lichen/moss.

  6. Christina May 13th, 2012 6:00 PM

    Love the bunny shots!

  7. DiAnne May 19th, 2012 11:44 AM

    Dan, these are so amazing!!! Please please please bring me a rock from the NP!!!

  8. Dan Greenspan May 19th, 2012 7:10 PM

    Strictly speaking, I could bring you a rock from Northern Canada or Greenland, but at the actual north pole there is only water (and ice), because the north pole is in the middle of an ocean. I will try to bring you something…

  9. Michael October 20th, 2018 9:58 PM

    Thank you Dan for posting all of the beautiful photos. There is really no place on Earth like Canada. God keep our land glorious and free. :-)

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