September 6th I arrived very early to board a C-130 Hercules to AFB Thule. There was constantly some part of the plane at which to marvel: inner workings, paratrooper doors, rear drop-down ramp… The flight into Greenland was amazing, glimpsing glaciers and fjords and when we landed, clear blue icebergs in the bay.
CFS Alert itself is stationed on a rise overlooking a normally ice-covered bay. The station covers a large area; however, because there are very few landmarks, things appear quite close together. All of the living quarters are connected in one large complex. One could easily live solely indoors if they so chose.
As I walked through the main doors, I was welcomed by the applause of station members gathered to greet new arrivals. I was finally there, the ‘northern-most inhabited place on earth’. I(t) felt pretty cool. Two weeks in, it still feels surreal to look out across the ocean with nothing between me and the North Pole save some ice, water, and perhaps a fish or two.
More astounding really, is the ease with which we got here. Alert is almost exactly 1800 km north of the Arctic Circle, and only 817 km from the Pole. Flights are frequently delayed due to poor weather, but in reality it is just a short jaunt compared to journeys of the past. HMS Alert, the station’s namesake, saw many more hardships during its exploration of the north. Next post, I hope to introduce the GAW Lab. Thanks for reading.