My grand idea of updating this once in a while during field season clearly crashed and burned. What a whirlwind! I think I learned more in the few months I was in the field than the rest of my education combined.
I’ve come back a little bruised and battered but hope I’m better for it. The camp atmosphere for the most part was fantastic, and I got to work with some amazing people who were tough to say goodbye to. I’m thankful for the ones that were patient teachers, and for everyone who let me feel like I had finally “found my people.” We have a lovely tradition of writing notes to each other when we leave camp, and I’ve tacked up the ones given to me at my desk.
The landscape certainly helped: on days where nothing seemed to go right, just stepping out of the forest back onto the edge of the Alaska Highway to look across the Shakwak Trench at the stunning St Elias mountain range immediately put everything into perspective. On days where everything went well, or days when pure luck was on our side, the backdrop of the Kluane region made it all seem nothing short of a dream. A data-hungry, wilderness-loving dream!
There are definitely some things I’ve learned the hard way and will have to change for future field seasons (first step: buy a *much* warmer sleeping bag…those Yukon nights can get chilly in a plywood hut), and some things that I am still worrying about now that I’ve returned to civilization, but in the end I feel like the luckiest person to have been a part of it.
Back south, I have the whole lab to myself since everyone else is doing summer field work, so it’s nothing but me and my brain for the next while to synthesize it all into some kind of PhD game plan. Wish us luck!