Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rec Hut

Dress warmly, take a wander up the hill on station, head into the backyard and go north.  Dodge around some of the radio antennas, be mindful of any loose rock or deep snow, and if you hike far enough in the right direction you'll come to another one of the tiny treasures of Palmer Station.

The Recreation Hut ("Rec Hut") has been around in some form for decades now; this current iteration was built in 2010 after the old one was deemed too moldy and rotten, and torn down.  It's a simple little structure, perhaps seven feet long and five feet wide, enough room inside for two or three people to sleep comfortably on a plain wooden floor.  There's no electricity, no heat, and the station's wi-fi doesn't reach it.  It's perfect.

The Rec Hut is basically for light camping; it's where you can go if you need to get away from station for a night, or if you've got a special friend you need some alone time with, but don't want to go through the hassle of finding somewhere to pitch a tent.

The usual blend of Antarctic ingenuity and craftsmanship went into this; much of it was built with scrap wood and whatever materials that we had around, but with the same attention to detail that is such a hallmark of this station.

The interior is as simple as the outside; just a couple basic shelves in the corner, and windows on the ocean and glacier side to give spectacular views to fall asleep to.


Looking out the main window, over Arthur Harbor to the Marr Ice Piedmont.

It's well into spring here and there's very little in the way of darkness even at 2am, but it hasn't warmed up yet.  The night we spent out here was the coldest ever recorded in the month of November, dropping to just 1.4F. We keep a few inflatable sleeping pads and sleeping bags in there, but on nights as cold as this it's usually advisable to bring a couple more from station. Wrapped up in two sleeping bags on three sleeping pads, and dressed warmly under all that, it was a very pleasant night.  Now that the population on station is getting higher and quarters more cramped on station, the Rec Hut is prime real estate, and you've got to reserve it usually a week in advance.  I'm scheduled to go out there again this coming Saturday night; let's hope it's as clear and beautiful as it was on my prior night out.

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