9 December, 1999
Thursday December 9, 1999
The wind is still blowing and I am just finishing up my fifth of seven (one every 4-hours for a full day) sample. I now have been up more then 24 hours straight. I must stay up until 1400 hours for my last sample is at 1200 hours and it takes about 2 hours to run them. This will probably be one on my shortest journals.
I finished sample analysis about 0530 hours and buttoned up my wind-breaker. It was windy, but very warm, maybe even above freezing. This happens when strong winds come down (elevation 2 1/4 miles) off the polar plateau (katabatic winds) they pick up speed and also have a tendency to warm. This is exactly what happened just before I arrived, they had katabatic wind gusts of 74+ knots. They destroyed every tent in camp and destroyed a Jamesway as well. The people moved into the permanent structures to avoid the blowing sand AND rocks.
I then found a sunny spot behind a large rock, and like the old dinosaur that I am, sunned myself. Too bad I wasn't a reptile for then I would respond according to VanT'Hoff's Law. For every 10oC change in temperature the metabolism increases 2 to 3 times. Boy would that be nice. Even though I have been doing a lot of hiking with a heavy pack I feel I have put on weight.
About 0615 Mike, and Ethan showed up. They had gotten the ATV stuck in a melt pool last night and wanted to get to it early, before the high summer sun, days are still getting longer for another 12 days (actually the sun gets a little higher), remelted the pool. They we quite concerned for it would require a call to Mac Operations and getting approval for helicopter to come out and sling load the ATV to permanent ice. Not something they wanted to have to do.
I wanted to go with them but my 0800 hour sampling precluded that. I took my sample and ran my tests, by then it was 0930 hours. How can I stay awake? I saw a bunch of glacier berries that Rae had dropped off at the lake's edge and asked her if she wanted me to bring then to the camp. She said yes. So I did. I then help two young women Jenniffer and Carrie, or as they are known as the Doranettes, they work form Dr. Peter Doran, move equipment to the ice. They are two of the most fun loving kids, but a little scary in that things are always happening to them, probably owing to them being a tad unfocussed. As an example, after I helped load their banana sledge they started to walk to the permanent ice, and Carrie literally walked on ice that was open water 2 hours earlier and went right through up to he knees. Not a problem, she simply turned around stepped up on the ice and proceeded to walk where she should have been in the first place.
I went and sat in the sun and managed to stay awake to get and test my samples. Tomorrow I am being flown to F-6 research site, to do a stream synopsis on Aiken Stream so I had to straighten up the lab. It was then 1400 hours and I went to my tent to sleep. I haven't slept 34 hours.
I rested until 1700 hours and came down to the camp and Kathy Welch had arrived. We chatted a while and I shared my data with her and Michael Goosef, the fellow in charge of my project. He was pleased with my work and said he would send me the results when all he chemical analysis came in. Great, I would like to see the results of this labor of love.
We ate dinner and then the flight schedule came in. My flight out is at 0915 hours so Michael wants all gear at helo-pad by 0830 hours. Great.
I think I am going to grab a radio and head out onto Lake Hoare for this will probably be the last time I ever see it again, because when I get back to Mctown either tomorrow or the next day, plans will have been made for my redeployment. I am looking forward to heading home, but to leave this magnificent place will be like leaving a part of my heart and soul behind and permanently frozen in the ice of this magnificent place we call Antarctica.
I left camp about 2030 hours and decided to walk down to the Suess Glacier at the other end of Lake Hoare , I guess it is about 2+ miles. It was fairly mild but the wind blew heavily in my face. I had crampons that made my trip over the very rough surface of the ice (rough do to differential melting and wind erosion of the surface) fairly rapid. It will be a lot more rapid on the way back with the wind to my back. I would walk for 1 1/2-hours out; if I made it to the Suess fine if not, I would have to miss out for I had given myself 3 hours to be back by.
The ice was azure blue in many places, white in others, white with dirt blown in from the walls of the valley in others. The surface went from smooth as glass, to undulating waves caused by the wind wearing away the surface (looked like a miniature topographical presentation of the area. In fact, as I walked and watched the ice, I was sort of pretending I was in the Astar-helicopter (the ones we fly) and flying over the terrain. It was also like trying to see "figures" in the clouds. The most drastic ice is the ice where dirt from the valley walls had landed on and then differentially melted. This in turn opened up spots where the wind could get in and cause erosion and sublimation of the surface. This created sculptures some of them up to 5' tall.
The wind was in my face on the way out so it should be quicker on the way in, besides I made to the Suess Glacier with time for pictures and a chance to sit, munch on some trail mix, and reflect about life. I stayed here maybe 20 minutes and it was time to head back to camp.
The trip back was quicker and warmer, the wind (probably 25 -30 knots) was at my back. The only problem was I had less control of where I was going then when I was walking into the wind. I made great progress and picked up all sorts of time. No need to worry about having to call in and tell them I would be late.
I made it about 2/3 of the way home before I lost my footing and went down on my right shoulder and knee, like a ton of bricks. As soon as I hit the ice I heard one of my bottles fall out of the backpack and start to blow up the ice away from me. I saw it sliding away so I tried to get up to catch it before it got too far. As soon as I put stress on my right foot I slipped again. I had not slipped the first time, but rather the rivet that held my right crampon together snapped. Great! I could walk, but much slower then normal and what turned out to be my pea bottle was booking on up the ice without me. I had to catch it for if that bottle ever broke and the urine seep into Lake Hoare, it would be a serious problem. I used my ice ax to pull myself along the ice on my stomach. I must have looked like a wounded seal. Thank the stars above, the bottle got caught in a crevice in the ice and I managed to recover it. Now that I had everything back I looked at the crampon with a bit more care. It was broken all right. I took it off and put it into my pack. Then began the slow process of digging my left foot into the ice and using my ice ax as a "one-toothed" crampon. It worked OK, for I made it back to camp before I would have to call in. Let me tell you though, I was exhausted and headed directly to my tent and went to sleep.
Penguin Pete the Polar Man.
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