by Ilan Lerman
It’s so peaceful at Regis Station. The only sounds are the wind whipping across the tundra and my own breathing.
I didn’t think I’d like it out here. The solitude. The lack of stimulus. Some people have to have another person around to keep them straight. For me, it’s another extreme experience, like bungy-jumping in Queenstown, or skydiving over Monterey Bay. Instead of the adrenaline rush of freefall, it’s an opportunity to confront the unknown.
Larry dropped me off here in the ATV three hours ago. He should be over halfway back to McKinlay Station by now. He was the only one of the Grise Fjord Inuit who would drive me out here. Not one of the McKinlay scientists would do it. Bloody cowards.
Larry’s a jovial sort. Always smiling with those splintered, yellow teeth of his. He likes to crack jokes and tell stories about his family, but he didn’t say a word for the entire three-hour drive out to Regis Station.
“Bye, Chris,” was all he managed after he helped lug the crate of supplies in and refuelled. Then he was gone, the rumble of his ATV quickly swallowed by the vast, mountainous landscape of Ellesmere Island. See you in a week, Larry.
As research stations go, Regis is pretty basic. They designed it for two, but I’m glad I’m on my own as the bunks are crammed together and the wash facilities are rudimentary. There is enough workbench space to carry out some simple research, but it was only ever meant to be a short-stay camp to visit the Regis-Bell locality. A low, meandering river cuts down from the plateau behind me through extensive patches of purple saxifrage.
The generator didn’t take long to fire up, considering the length of time since it was last used. There’s plenty of spare fuel, a rifle and my radio in case of emergencies. Pascal gave me the drill on polar bears for the third time before I left. Never startle a bear. No shit, Pascal.
There’s nothing to be afraid of. Bears are incredibly rare this far inland and, according to Pascal and the others, are the least of my worries. Despite having the licences sorted and the time booked far in advance, I practically had to beg to be allowed out here on my own. Pascal wouldn’t have it on his conscience, not after the history of this place. Nothing scares me, though. No amount of campfire ghost-story tactics are going to come between me and completing my damn PHD thesis. *** Read on! ***