By: Danielle Beaty, University of Colorado Boulder
Emotions were high as I stepped off the boat onto the docks in Atlin. For one thing, the sun shone brightly on the newly showered faces (some people were even wearing jeans which was a shocking sight) of all the people I had missed the last couple of days. I ran to them (which proved to be difficult considering my legs were so sore from the previous day’s traverse) and there were hugs all around. The sadness I had felt toward leaving the icefield was replaced by my excitement about being together again in such a beautiful little town. After a quick passport check from the mounties, Luc greeted me with a box of freshly picked flowers, berries and scones, and then I threw my gear down hoping I could eat some scones and relax for a bit. Mary was quick to gather my trail party, however, and give us a camp tour of the place. The final camp we stayed in was an old hospital building, and the rooms were quite eerie so most people opted to sleep out on the docks. I preferred this anyway, because we were there during a meteor shower. That first day I did laundry, showered, explored the small town of Atlin (I was startled every time a car drove by), lounged on the docks, went thrift shopping to buy clothes for our JIRP Thanksgiving celebration, and enjoyed fresh food which was such a treat. That night the sky was clear, and we enjoyed a meteor shower on the docks until our tiredness overtook us.
The next day was a bit rainy, which gave my group an opportunity to finalize our project presentation. Afterwards, while most of us were out goofing around (eating ice cream, skipping rocks, roller skating, playing on a play structure, dancing in the street) Maya, Kurt and some staff prepared a phenomenal Thanksgiving meal, complete with turkey, stuffing, two kinds of gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, fresh baked bread, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and apple pie.
The next day was presentation day, so we all practiced giving our presentations to one another, and gave each other feedback. I was very impressed by all the hard work everyone had put in this summer. There were several people on cookie duty, which meant preparing tons of cookies for the townspeople to enjoy. After dinner, we all walked a few blocks to the Atlin Rec Center. Everyone really took the feedback from earlier in the day to heart, as I thought the presentations had improved tremendously. I was very proud of my fellow JIRPers. After everyone had shared their research, I stuck around talking to the locals. Everyone I met was very passionate about the work JIRP does, and many of them had been coming to the JIRP presentations for 10, 20, even 30 years. It was great to know our summer’s work was appreciated. After dinner, I walked back to camp and the realization that JIRP was coming to a close really hit me hard. I wasn’t ready to accept that the next day we would leave behind the quaint town of Atlin to head to Juneau. I was nervous for the culture shock of being in a big town full of people I didn’t know, where not showering for two months or dressing in JIRP style would be scoffed. We spent one final night on the docks, then packed up and boarded a bus after one last final group photo.