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14 August, 2001

Going beyond the flags

The morning passed quickly as we packed up and said our good-byes. After breakfast, I rushed to enter our last days' data into the spreadsheets and then I took a long walk alone in the snow.

How strange it feels to be leaving this place. How hard it is to walk the paths without a purpose, to see the snow sampler waiting with the bottles and know it's no longer my job to fill them all up again. The experiments have been packed away, the tents are down. We wait for the sound of the Herc in the distance to signal the time to leave. I will miss this life; the simplicity of sitting in the snow filling schott bottles and weighing the petri dishes. The warmth of sharing meals and conversations in the big house and the coffee and cookies between snow sampling. I'll miss the support from Shelly and Meg when I didn't know what to do with the finicky snow analysis equipment and the laughs with Manuel, Saskia and Rudy in the office at night while trying to write my journals. I will miss witnessing Markus' optimism and energy for discovery. I will miss skiing on the fresh snow crystals and seeing them sparkle back at me and appreciating each mood of the sky and snow. I will miss being in the vast open spaces beyond the flags, where you can't see anything but snow and sky and you can't hear anything but your own heartbeat. Everyone needs these spaces to shape their character, I feel so fortunate to have been able to encounter the experiences of this summer. Who knows where the next chapter will take me, but experience tells me it too will be exciting.

The Herc pulls into camp.

One last photo before loading, with Markus and Manuel.

Waving good-bye.

Manuel walking toward the Herc.

Cactus man on the ride home.

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