I woke up the following morning with a part of the green tent flapping in my face. The arctic wind had managed to push one of the ropes holding down the tent off the rock it was secured to. Thankfully, the tent was still standing, but the grey pole in the centre was leaning off to the side. Judging from all the commotion coming from outside, the wind was also pushing off the ropes from the other tents. I quickly packed my sleeping bags, air mattress, and duffel bag, and headed outside. It's one of the many golden rules in cadets & the military: on your last day in the field, pack up your bedding and kit so that you're ready to move at a moment's notice.
|Cadet Sergeant Reid's tarp cape.|
After breakfast, everyone went to work on tearing down the camp. Originally, the plan was to stay until lunch time but the wind convinced us that leaving earlier was a better option. Duffel bags, sleeping bags, and air mattresses were packed and brought out of the tents and loaded into qamutiks. The interiors were emptied of garbage, tarps, and "cardboard flooring" before the tents were taken down. Some cadets had to run after some garbage before it was blown away by the wind. The fire & fuel storage points were also disassembled. I used the handyman's secret weapon, duct tape, to secure all the unopened MRE packages in large boxes. I then handed them off to the lead Ranger who secured them to a qamutik. The final task was to do a garbage sweep of the entire camp area, picking up any leftover garbage, and placing them in a garbage bag. Taking care of the land means leaving no human trace behind.
|Camp tear down.|
The Commanding Officer (CO) & I held a debriefing with the cadets, briefly reviewing the lessons they learned, and what they liked & disliked about the FTX. Overall, they enjoyed the FTX and definitely wanted to have another one next year. The CO & I also agreed.
We were two skidoos short because we were leaving earlier than planned. Our other two drivers did not stay at the camp site over the weekend and had agreed with the CO to pick us up at around lunchtime on Sunday. Thankfully, this wasn't a problem because the two skidoos we did have were strong enough to pull two qamutiks at once. I gave the go-ahead to "return-to-unit" after making one final sweep of the area. Everyone found a seat on a qamutik and we were off.
The first leg of the ride back to Arctic Bay was uneventful. The sky was covered with overcast clouds and we rode past the same picturesque mountains we saw on Friday. The ice in Admiralty Inlet was still frozen but in the distance, I could see a few places where the ice was beginning to melt. About halfway to Arctic Bay, we spotted two black dots approaching us in the distance. As they neared, we saw that it was the other two skidoo drivers. The convoy stopped and waited for them to come closer. They were happily greeted by everyone and they attached a qamutik to their skidoos. With the loads now even, we continued on our journey.
We noticed several large cracks in the ice closer to Arctic Bay. And some of them were wide. In fact, we stopped at one large crack that was almost too wide to let a skidoo cross. If it had been too wide, there would have been a problem. I photographed the cadets jumping across the crack, and how far it stretched across the ice. "By the end of June," commented a cadet, "this will all be water."
We arrived in Arctic Bay at 12:30pm. I quickly jumped off the qamutik I had been riding in and walked up to the CO's house to get his pickup truck. I drove it down to the ice so that the cadets could load their gear onto it and get a ride home. After picking up my belongings, I declined the CO's offer to drive me home and walked back to my place. I showered, changed, unpacked everything, and placed all my dirty clothes into the washing machine. I then had a quick power nap before undertaking the task of transferring & editing all the photos I collected on my digital camera.
|Arctic Bay in the distance.|
End of Operation Spring Fix 14 mini-series.