27 November, 2004
Location: Lake Hoare
Ordinarily, I would have flown back to McMurdo today; my work here is just about done. Town is celebrating Thanksgiving today, however, so there are no helicopter flights. There are never any flights on Sunday, so I can’t get back to town until Monday.
First thing this morning, I cleared the overnight ice out of the dive hole. We are keeping the dive hole open so that we can pull Romeo (the underwater camera) out of the hole in a few days. It has been relocated to just beneath the hole, so when Brandy and Jackie come back to Lake Hoare, all they have to do is pull it up to the surface and take it back to camp.
With the rest of the day free, I decided to hike out to “Mummy Pond.” This is a pond that is about three and a half miles up Taylor Valley. It is known for having numerous mummified seals and a beautiful view up the valley. I decided to go on a “photo shoot.”
I hiked the length of Lake Hoare, then over Lake Chad. I then hiked through the “Defile,” which is a narrow passage between the edge of the Suess Glacier and a tremendous rock cliff. It is spectacular to walk through the passage. The scalloped edges of the Suess hold numerous rocks on the verge of being “spit out” of the glacier.
I meandered my way through the immense bowl of Taylor Valley until I reached Mummy Pond. I felt rather insignificant amongst the towering hills and cliffs around me. The reputation of the pond is worthy; the views are spectacular. The turquoise blue ice of the pond offered a sharp contrast to the surrounding brown cliffs. Along the edges of the pond were several mummified seals. I had originally thought I would like to take photographs of the seals. There carcasses looked so stressed, however, that I decided I did not want a picture. I felt sorry for them. I wondered what there agonizing journey to Mummy Pond must have been like. I decided to leave the harshness of nature at the pond.
I focused my attention instead on the surrounding glaciers and cliffs. There magnificence is astounding. People often think of glaciers as pure white snow and ice masses moving through an area. They can actually be quite dirty. The Suess Glacier nicely illustrates the movement of rock and sediment through it’s brown streaking waterfalls.
On my walk back to camp, I retraced my steps through the valley. I had time to reflect on my journey here in Antarctica, the history of the valley, and my good fortune to having been able to experience it. I am reminded of a quote from on unknown author: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.” Antarctica has taken my breath away numerous times.
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