9 June, 1992
Tuesday, June 9, 1992:
Day Five of ICWI Recovery. Got up at 0630, saw John Evans, who had put a note on the bulletin board that said limited volunteers were needed. A crew had already organized work deals an hour earlier and that if I wanted to head out to camp (it seems that 90% of the people were sleeping in), I could bring some trash bags ( I knew my former Framingham trash picking days would come in handy some day, somewhere!) and "pick up" on the way to work.
As I walked out from the Palmer towards the camp, the thinnest line of crimson was just barely discernible on the horizon (I'm sure the sun was well below the horizon), but the physics of light is truly amazing here in the Antarctica. As I walked, I reflected on what has transpired during the past year and a half. I truly feel like "seizing the day," (Carpe Diem-I have enough problems with the English language, let alone Latin; but you get the point). I have to; for tomorrow, at the very latest, ICWI will be no more. I will be leaving this most beautiful, most hostile and most powerful place in the world here at the bottom of the earth, and I will have to begin my homeward journey. The temperature is around -31, the wind is gentle from the south, off the continent, and the snow crunches as I waddle off toward what was left of Ice Camp Weddell I and toward the beginning of the end of my stay in Antarctica. My thought are of family and friends and how I'd love to share this experience with them.
When I arrived at the camp, I met Helmut and we worked on picking up wood. About an hour later, Ruthanne showed up. I guess everyone else felt that the work was done; it wasn't. We worked until noon and then went to eat. During this time the Russian Mill-8 made sortie after sortie to the fuel dumps. After dinner, it was trash patrol, two skidoos; and the other members worked barrels. About 1330, while we were picking up wood, the Mill-8 decided to pick up the Russian hut that was about 50 m from us. AS soon as it approached us, we all jumped on top of whatever was near us; if we didn't, the debris would be air bound. The pilot seemed to have little or no regard for waht others were doing around him.
At 1500 hrs, we all gathered around the one remaining Russian hut, "the command center of ICWI." Above this hut flew the Russian and US flags. The members of the ice camp, people from both ships and Young and Old Scholars gathered in the dwindling light in front of the hut. When the crowd settled down, Dr. Valary Lukin, the director of the camp, made his closing remarks (Nick Bargianstev, a Russian who sailed with us on the Palmer and who was in on the original planning of ICWI eight years ago, served as interpretor. The remarks were of cooperation, and of the tremendous amounts of "data sets" that had come from this most successful project. Dr. Arnold Gordon, USA chief scientist, then spoke, echoing Dr. Lukin's remarks. Next came the Captain of the Akademik Federov who reflected on how much had happened since they arrived at this ice floe back in February when they set up ICWI. Next Nick asked the two camp coordinators, Jay Ardia and his Russian counterpart, to take down the other's country flag. In the manner of true cooperation that had made this project one of the more successful in history, the flags were lowered simultaneously. The final speaker was Dr. Bernie Lateau from NSF. He praised the cooperation in the project and the tremendous amounts of successful science that had been done. He then stated, based on the success of ICWI, he felt that NSF would give serious consideration to "sponsoring Weddell Ice Camp II." Boy, would I love to be involved with this from day ONE!! (Rumors have 1997 as a possible date.) The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes; then it was back to work in the ever darkening Antarctic night.
We returned to the Palmer at 1750 for the camp members had been invited to dinner on the Federov. There was still some work to be done; which in the light of the fact that the camp members were going to dinner, figured would be finished tomorrow. Shortly after 1900, the Palmer started her engines and began breaking ice around the Federov. The Federov's desalination plant had failed and we were supposedly going to transfer, I think, 150,000 gallons of water (maybe it was 50,000 gallons-anyway, a lot). The Palmer was breaking big ice into little ice without really reacher her goal - getting close enough to the Federov to run a hose. She bounced back and forth for about four hours; in the meantime running into the 50 ton capacity bow crane of the Federov and crushing part of the Palmer's catwalk around the bridge. The Palmer finally gave up and drove into the flow to park for the night. I went to my cabin about 0005; met Vicky in the hall. She and a dozen or so others had left the party to finish up the camp. She asked me to store some gear, which I did. As I looked out at the blackness where Ice Camp Weddell I had been only, the only objects that could be seen were the balls of white made by the four giant search lights, lights of the two ice breakers and the headlights of the three skidoos as they left the camp for the last time. I wanted to go and greet them as they came to the ship but that was a special time for those who had shared so much for so long at the bottom of the earth. The moment belonged to them. I went to bed at 0130.
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