13 February, 1998
Today was a great one. We slowly made our way up the peninsula to Anvers Island. What is at Anvers Island? Palmer Station is there! We are off-loading some scientists and their workers to do further research in Antarctica until April. Also some of the scientists who do studies down here frequently leave excess supplies here so they do not have to drag them back and forth between laboratories. Before we leave, a few researchers who have been down here awhile will come aboard and sail back to Punta Arenas, Chili with us.
The ship is also helping Palmer Station refuel their stores of diesel fuel so they will have power and fuel for their heavy machinery. From the Gould's storage tank, a huge black hose runs up a hill to the bottom of the storage tank. On hand are oil-absorbent "socks" to catch any fuel that might happen to leak. Every precaution is taken to ensure a safe transfer from the vessel to the tank. I am told that we are delivering almost 62,000 gallons!
Tomorrow will be time to pack up those things that are to stay at Palmer and load on the material from Palmer that needs to go home with the leaving crew. It will also be a time to explore around the Palmer Station site. Of course, if one goes outside of a small, well defined area, a sign-out list must be filled in and perhaps a safety review given. It is not like walking down to the local park. I've heard about an ice cave that one can access by zodiac. There is a possibility of getting to do that. If no one is available to take me to the ice cave, a glacier trail that can be hiked lies directly behind Palmer Station. It is necessary to follow on the trail only to avoid crevasses that have been covered with a light crust of snow, but could swallow a person just as well as an open crevasse. Glaciers on this island are not one or two feet of ice. They are hundreds of feet deep. Deep cracks form in this river of ice and a person could slip into one of these cracks and fall a hundred feet or so. Unfortunately, once a person has fallen, it is very difficult to save them. Ice is very hard to fall against and the cracks are not straight. They zigzag down preventing would-be rescuers from dropping a rope so the person could be hauled out if they survived the fall. On top of that, these crevasses are likely to shift at any time making it too risky to send someone down to help. So, it is very advisable to stay on the trail. I've heard that the view from the top is awesome, though, and well worth the task of climbing to the top -- following the trail.
My time in Antarctica is rapidly running out. The ship will be leaving Palmer Station on Sunday afternoon. We will arrive in Punta Arenas on the 19th of February. Any email inquiries or communications will no longer be accessible after the 19th of February, so you need to stop sending email to this ship before the morning of the 19th. I love answering your questions and communicating with you, so please do not hesitate to send those questions to my school email address. I have a great network of researchers from whom I can get answers. It is not a burden, but a chosen task. Thank you all for the neat questions so far.
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