Monday, August 11, 2008

Hiking

On days off, or just whenever you happen to have free time during the week or whatever, one of the ways that you can get off-station for a while is to go for a wander on the glacier that sits behind our station.


Our station is on the tip of a peninsula, and about a 1/4 mile walk east through and area of rocky hills and small ponds nicknamed "the backyard", you'll get to the base of the glacier, which at that point just looks like a massive white hill. Hiking about half a mile up gets you high enough that you can walk around a large section of cracks and cliffs, and head down onto another peninsula just across the bay from our station, Bonaparte Point.


So, this Sunday, I packed up my camera stuff, dressed warmly, and headed out for a hike with Sean, our electrician, and Amber, our instrument tech.


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That's Amber and I, I'm in the tan. I think this was after we'd gotten to the top of the glacier and were headed downhill to Bonaparte. Most of the pics here I took myself, obviously the ones with me in them, Sean or Amber took.



The line of black flags are the limits of where it's safe to go on the glacier. Every few months the GSAR (Ground Search And Rescue) team goes out with sounding equipment and things and searches for any new large cracks or crevases, and moves the flag line.


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This was after we'd made it down onto Bonaparte, we hugged the glacial wall heading down to where the sea was frozen next to the glacier. We had a specific destination in mind.


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An ice cave. The size is very hard to convey; my widest lens is only 17mm, and on a crop-sensor camera such as mine, that gives and equivalent focal length of 28mm (Full-frame digital SLR cameras are still in the $2200+ range).


But if you ever need something that makes you feel really, really small, this is a good place to come. The lip of that cave measures almost three stories above the surface.


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We would have wandered in farther, but we weren't exactly sure about how solid the ice was.


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Looking out of the ice cave. Um, actually, we never went into the cave, if anyone asks.


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After we had enough gawking at the really big hole in the really big chunk of ice, we wandered down to the peninsuala.

That would be home on the other side of the harbor.


And, after a little bit more wandering, we found a couple people asleep on the ice. These people were just like us. Only a bit fatter. And lazier. And they had fur.



This would be a Crabeater seal, I think.







Eventually, we got to the point, or as close as reasonable. It put us directly across the harbor from the station. So close, yet the end of a roughly 3 mile hike.



We figured it was a decent time to take a break. So a sit, and some munching granola bars and drinking water. God, I feel like such a dirty hippy.





And, of course, taking what we call "Hero Shots". Which are the pictures we show to people back in the states that make us look way cooler and braver and more awesome then we actually are. Such as this:



Me, the cool hardass antarctic explorer! Really, I think it's just that anyone looks cool with a sash or something going diagonally across their chest.



This is Amber doing what we call the "Antarctic Ninja" look, with the neck gaiter and hat pulled together to leave only the eyes.

Anyway, eventually we heard on the radio that one of the rec boating teams had dropped off Diane, our cook, a little west of us on the point, so she could hike back to the station. We hung out for a bit longer, and eventually, we spotted her off in the distance, and we all headed back to the station together.





Looking back at the ice cave where we had initially been. That little black dot at the top of the glacier is someone skiing. This place is big.

Walking back, we came across yet another seal. And I had to take a bunch more pictures. Because he was really cute.







For the most part, though, we were a bit quicker going home. The wind was starting to pick up, and we were heading into it. Me having the long legs and endurance, I quickly started to out-pace the others, especially when we started heading back up the glacier. So of course, I took a couple shots of the others in comical fight-off-the-wind poses.



I'll wrap this annoyingly long post up with a couple pictures looking back at the station from up on the glacier.





Yeah. Those cluster of dots left of center is our little bubble of civilization.

This place is big.

And we are really, really small.

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