Kyle checks out a stump

by John Huston

Hi, everybody, from the first outdoor picnic dinner of the New Land 2013 expedition. We had an outdoor picnic breakfast this morning as well and that’s a sign that spring is fully in gear.

A lot of sunshine, and as you know we’ve been traveling at nighttime and sleeping during the daytime. We have some cooler weather for the dogs and for us. We’re camped on a beautiful wide braided river valley that is close to this fossil forest that we’ve been talking about. And we’ve been visiting that over the past 36 hours. It’s been a really cool experience.

Here are some facts about the forest, according to Wikipedia:

  • It’s dated to 40 to 50 million years old.
  • It was first investigated in 1985.
  • Wikipedia says that at the time the polar climate was warm, but winters were still continuously dark for three months long.
  • As a tree fell, the fine sediment in which the forest grew protected the plant. Instead of turning into petrified stone fossils, they were ultimately mummified by the cold dry Arctic climate, and only recently exposed by erosion.

The forest is a large area. It sits on the hillside of several kind of muddy, dirty-looking mountains that are mostly covered by snow as we’re seeing them. And as you’ll see in the photos, what the forest consists of right now is basically charred-looking tree stumps that look very, very similar to charred wood as you could find at home.

Fossil tree stump

But it’s really cool to think about the forest and the whole different ecosystem that was here 40 million years ago. I guess the trees have been identified as kind of early, or dawn, redwoods mixed in with some pine and some spruce and other species. The redwoods back then could grow up to 30 meters or over 100 feet tall. It’s a really special place, totally different era, 40 million years ago. I’m sure it was beautiful and we have beautiful views here. The government of Nunavut is planning to protect this area and turn it into a park.

So it’s kind of been a side trip, and we’re headed to Eureka. It will take us about four short days to get there and the expedition will finish up on Day 66, which will be June 4th. More to come soon, and thanks for listening.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: 5/27/13, Day 58
Location: 79°56'N, 88°55'W
Traveled: 3.5 hours, 5.4 miles
Temperatures: 32°F am, 32°F pm