Our field crew of six people will be at Etah for about six weeks – a fraction of the time MacMillan’s team was there, but as it turned out, we also had a fraction of the time in which to prepare.
Even today, getting to Etah is not easy – in June we will fly to the Thule Air Base and from there travel by helicopter. We will have with us everything we need for our stay: archaeological equipment, camping equipment, and of course food. Thanks to collaboration between NSF and the US military we will be able to travel on military flights rather than commercial, and most of food and supplies are shipped up to Thule ahead of time on cargo flights. This is a terrific arrangement, saving a lot of money, but it requires considerable planning.
This year, the key cargo flight to Thule was scheduled to depart on March 8, and gear had to be at the Air National Guard Base by March 2, only a week after we had learned that we had funding. Luckily we have lots of lists from previous years, so we know what we need, and how much to buy. The days between learning we had money (and had permission to spend it!) and the 2nd were a blur of grocery shopping, ordering items online, waiting for deliveries, and packing. Thanks to lots of help from friends and colleagues here at Bowdoin, we made the deadline and delivered 700 pounds of food to Newburgh NY in time to make the flight. We all breathed a sigh of relief and turned our attention to the next tasks – rounding out our supplies with things that could not be acquired in that frantic week, finalizing our schedule, and a myriad other details.