Jun 262013
 

Farthest North, Log 2: Arctic Reveal

© 2013 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

The camera gear – all of it – has made it on board the plane. In the high regions that is not a given, so I disperse the things I need. My photo vest has a camera body in one pocket, a very bright F2.8 70-200 lens in the other, a waterproof case with 32 gig cards to keep the camera fed. In the pack has the shotgun mic, my field recorder, pounds of batteries and cables and the hydrophone. It barely squeezes under the seat – I should be sitting in the middle one where the space below the seat in front is widest – but four hours in the middles? Forget it. n yet another pocket a broadcast quality digital recorder. The recorder, a birthday present from Valerie, is for taking notes but if the primary recorder is damaged or if the most important piece of sound gear doesn’t make it. This is the parabolic stereo mic. If that bag which also has the carbon fiber tripod and all my arctic clothing is lost in transit, the pocket recorder will be the only stereo device. How it will do in the presence of the distance sound of fracturing glaciers and whatever else presents, I have no idea. But the main camera box, large, yellow, waterproof and heavy as hell, is the overhead and that is huge relief.

The 4 ½ hours of airtime goes by quickly. Out of Toronto low cumulous white out the land but just over Churchill Falls, as we cross into western Labrador, there’s a break. The land below, ground flat by glacier and patterned in reticulations of small water confirms we aren’t in Kansas anymore: this is the arctic, and we are here.

http://www.adventurecanada.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangerlussuaq

 June 26, 2013  Posted by at 4:38 pm General No Responses »
Jun 242013
 

Farthest North, Log 1: En Route

© 2013 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

I am flying into the sun, a sun that refuses to quite give up the ghost, though it’s after nine o’clock. It is one day past the Solstice. The twin-engine Beechcraft is the oldest thing I’ve flown in for 20 years. The last old crate was a DC 3, then the only regular service in Costa Rica from San Jose to the Osa. The cowling blew off the starboard ending and they circled the field, landed again, found the damn thing and tied it on with a clothes hanger and off we went, indestructible. This time I’m dead-heading the other way. West of North, toward Toronto. The plane roars and rattles. It reminds me of the contraption Jimmy Stewart pilots in The Flight of the Phoenix (the 1965 original), except the kid at the controls has no idea who Jimmy Stewart was.

For all that this plane is the safest since that DC 3. The ground below is all farmland, we can land just about anywhere, just gliding in, dead-stick, slower than you’d dare to drive your car on any four lane highway. We are 2/3 empty, there are only two crew. There is no security door and you can watch them at the controls, adjusting the trim, changing transponder from one tower to the next. And that peachy-orange light pouring through.

Toronto is only the departure point. The next leg of the trip is the flight to Kangerlussuaq, at the top of the long fjord of the same name, in southern Greenland. There I join up with Adventure Canada’s ship, and we cruise north along the western coast, a land of glaciers and calving icebergs. In three days, I’ll be across the Arctic Circle, where the sun only halfway sets this time of year. I will sleep little, that’s how I am in the field. I don’t want to miss a thing. This is only the beginning.

Mark Seth Lender

Links:

http://www.adventurecanada.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangerlussuaq

 June 24, 2013  Posted by at 9:08 pm General No Responses »