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23 November, 2003

Final Hunt and Packing Again!

Teperature: 13*F

Location: Lake Bonney, Dry Valleys

Roman and I had two seals left to sample. Peter wanted a couple samples from more recent seals to compare with the older ones, so we went to two comparitively "fresh" ones, although they still were stiff as boards and tough as leather. We snipped and packaged our samples, then had the afternoon to pack up camp.

We emptied remaining fuel into machines for another group as the helicopters are not allowed to fly with containers carrying fuel. We packed all remaining items into the shipping containers and enjoyed a leisurly evening.

At ten pm, we decided to hike up the hill behind camp to view the notorious ventifacts in the area. One of the advantages of having 24 hour a day sunlight is that you can go out and explore just about anytime; weather permitting!

As we climbed higher, we were rewarded with a spectacular view from above the Taylor Glacier. The ice carved it's way into the valley from the polar plateau. The amount of ice within just this single glacier is amazing. The slow devastation caused to the landscape as the glacier slides by is impressive! Huge boulders are displaced from the mountain side and transported to their new homes down valley.

As earlier climates warmed, some of these boulders were deposited on hillsides as the glacier receded. They look quite out of place standing boldly in the middle of fields of rubble. The wind then started it's attack on these boulders. Little by little, the boulders were chiseled into bizarre shapes. Some literally look like jigsaw puzzles that could be taken apart and re-assembled time and again. Standing beside the rocks with deeper scars, we could hear the wind whistling through. The sounds were almost melodic; nature's music for the Dry Valleys!

In Antarctica, everything is magnificent! All is well and I'm having the time of my life!

1. The leading edge of the Taylor Glacier.

2. Moving up the hill behind camp; the Taylor Glacier is to the left in the background.

3. Another ventifact!

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