Monday I spent the morning bringing up the safety radios and repeater, then tried unsuccessfully to get first the old satellite ground station, then the new one running. But we also weren't sure if we would have to be pulled-out on Wednesday (3 days?!) or Friday (someone had the available aircraft booked solid Thursday for a week). If the earlier date, it did not seem worth much effort bringing up net access, so I shelved it and went out to get trace gas samples. These are a follow-up to the past two years' worth, part of a methane and oxygen isotope study by Lisa Pratt at Indiana University, she is looking at ways to differentiate living and non-living sources of trace gasses for future Mars life-detection. On Monday I couldn't find the shaft Bolek had installed last year above base camp, so I gave up and then went with Karen and Keith (media) out to Haynes Ridge and the hydrothermal vent site past Trinity Lake. Their first serious ATV traverses... they did very well. Tuesday I found a photo from last year and got the sample from Bolek's site.
Yesterday morning we heard that the guy who reserved the charter plane would like to bring his family out here and visit us Friday, then bring us all back, so we have our later pullout. Whew, as closing up today would have meant not getting some samples and rushing frenetically. One set of soil samples in 2007 was taken from Gemini Hills, a breccia outcrop area > one hour's ride away. I opted to (alone) stay behind and go to Drill Hill to pick up the muddy wood we'd left there last summer... I carried a slung shotgun and a radio, and know the area very well.
Back at camp, I had several hours to myself before the other four returned, so I went up the hill and got the satellite acquired and locked and a parabolic wifi antenna pointed downhill at base camp. And made BBQ chicken, cheesy home fries and glazed carrots for dinner in time when everyone returned by 9pm.
We are sleeping in-camp in the work tents, since there are only five of us this year. Weather is lovely by Devon Island standards, sunny and mid-40s with little wind. Compared to the mud and flooding last year, or the high snow drifts in 2013, this is dry and easy. :-)