Monday 12 May 2014

Watching Rocks

A damp, soft day yesterday with some rain for a few hours in the evening, but not the really heavy rain that we had hoped for. The river has risen a touch overnight and slowly, slowly things are changing. Each one of us seems to have a marker, a rock or a stick, which we watch for signs of something happening. My two little rocks that I adopted as my first markers, simply because I could see them from the desk in the office, are covered this morning. It did not freeze overnight and the forecast is still in our favour, but my-oh-my this river is being frustratingly stubborn this year.

Terry and Bill - still clearing snow

Thankfully it did not freeze overnight and early this morning we have a hazy sun trying to do its business and an air temperature of 4⁰C to build on – and lots of damp, slushy snow to plod through and sink in while we potter distractedly about camp, constantly looking at our river height markers.

Bill and Terry have ploughed on with camp tasks, clearing the snow off the containers so that we can build a low roof over them to keep them serviceable well into the future. They date back to 1994 and 1995; we shipped the first boats and engines out here from USA in them, then lowered them into place slung under the helicopter. One is Glenn’s workshop with all the outboard engine kit in (he has over 30 outboards to keep running) the other container houses all our domestic stores.

The carpentry team

After doing a great carpentry job with Bill, building a stand for our new drinks fridges, Terry flew the remote controlled helicopter in the afternoon to get some video footage and photos of the camp and Heli Pool. You can see a few ice bergs on the bank, left by the ‘almost break’ of mid April. The snow in camp now has that dark look of melting slush over a pack of harder ice.

Lower Camp and Heli Pool yesterday
Our real helicopter remains in Murmansk, on standby to come here as just as soon as the ice breaks and we can get on to set up Middle and Kitza for next week. While we tinker with smaller tasks here at Lower Camp actually we are all getting ready to move very quickly once the break starts. Our Kitza staff, Tom - of course! - and Kate who missed last year but who has bags of experience up here cooking at Pana, will now come out with our guests rather than the week before. So we will have to set up for them and make sure they can arrive to an up running camp. The girls here are cooking the Kitza first meals which we will take over to Luba at Kitza and she will have ready for them when they arrive, and we have a gravad-lax and other goodies on the go for them too.

Meanwhile we get on around camp with our preparations, but with a sort nervous twitch that at home might cause concern amongst our friends, as we look hopefully at our individual rock markers for more signs of change.

Oblivious to human concerns
Off to look at my rock again while, oblivious to our concerns, the camp cat sleeps in the lunch cooler bag.

Christopher Robinson