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24 January, 2003

Hey, Hey Boo Boo... Where's The Pic-a-nic Basket!

Today we set out early onto the ice. Tom, Sean, and I bore a hole with the motorized jiffy auger. Thankfully we punched through in about fifty minutes. Tom then joined the coring team, while Sean and I returned to camp to start preparing things for our move to Lake Joyce tomorrow.It was an absolutely gorgeous day of blue skies and calm winds. My tiny zipper pull thermometer actually hit 45 degrees at one point. Rhone Glacier had come to life with waterfalls cascading off it from all sides, dumping gallons of icy water into the stream. This is the same stream that was basically dry the day before. Now, you could hear the water rushing down the mountainside and if you closed your eyes, you would think you were sitting by a river in the spring on some mountain in Maine.The coring team would be heading in for lunch soon and we couldn't imagine wasting this rare sunny day inside the cook tent. So Sean and I decided to have a picnic. We pulled out our usual cabin bread and PBJ lunch, along with some sliced beef sticks and cheese, chocolate, and Tang.As the coring team returned for lunch, Thomas and Amy who had arrived at Bonney Hut and rode over on the six-wheeler to conduct some experiments in the area joined us. Later in the day, the temperature dropped considerably and the winds picked up. I have found Antarctica to be a lot like New England... wait five minutes and the weather will change. Note: For all you literature folks out there reading these journals, who is given credit for that quote? I think I know who it is, but don't have the resources here to check my knowledge, but I'll post my "I think it was..." answer tomorrow.Perhaps someone will e-mail me and let me know if I am correct.Anyway, even though the weather turned cold and windy in the late afternoon, exiting the lake had become a delicate situation. The warm sun had melted much of the moat around the lake and the ice dwindled to just a thin layer along the edges. It cracked badly as some team members tried to get off.Aaron, Brenda, and Sara walked around much of its edge looking for a place to safely walk ashore. They decided on a rather steep shoreline near Blood Falls, maybe one hundred yards across from our camp. Aaron decided to gamble with the ice first and we all held our breath as he started to cross.He took only two steps before plummeting through and sinking over five feet,clear up to his chest. He managed to scramble his way onto the slope.Within seconds, Jake was yelling for someone to get Aaron's towel. I dashed into his tent, grabbed the towel, and handed it to Jake. He sprinted across the stream, water filling his boots and reaching his knees, but managed to get the towel to Aaron. Meanwhile, Sean also went into Aaron's tent to get him some pants and a jacket, and then he too crossed the stream to deliver the dry clothes. We all felt bad for Aaron and I was shivering for him just watching the whole thing. But it is also nice to see how much we support one another and how quickly people are ready to help each other whenever necessary. As for Aaron, it wasn't exactly fun to take an unexpected dip into such cold water, but I admire his ability to take it all in stride, as if it were just one of the risks of being here. We all laughed a bit later in the evening recalling the event and our frantic reactions, but feeling relieved that our teammate was now safe and warm... O.K., maybe just warmer!

Sarah, Amber, and I relaxing after our picnic. The water area in the background filled considerably throughout the day as meltwater from Rhone Glacier ran down the stream, into the lake below.

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