9 November, 2003
Play and Reflect
Location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica
This has been an amazing day. We are fairly set for our trip to the field; the remaining things to be done can not be accomplished on a Sunday, so Phil, Roman, and I had a "leisurely" day. We went on a group tour to see Robert Scott's hut at Cape Evans. Getting there was an adventure in itself! The group loaded into two huge Delta trucks which bounced their way, and us, across the ice shelf to Cape Evans. On route, we enjoyed majestic views of Mt. Erebus and the Trans-Antarctic mountains.
As I was walking over to the hut, I was literally stopped "dead in my tracks" by thoughts of Scott's men and the conditions they must have faced. We thought it was challenge enough to fly to Antarctica and drive in a massive truck along the sea ice to reach this destination. I can't even imagine reaching this point by sailing ship. To assemble this hut, and to venture forth into new areas of exploration holds the true spirit of adventure. I was awestruck by the isolation, the beauty, the mightiness of the mountains, and the serenity of the surroundings.
Entering the hut was like stepping back in time. I truly felt like if I listened closely enough, I may be able to hear Scott's men whispering. Because Antarctica is so dry, everything is very well preserved. The men's food, clothing, notes, sleeping bags, and science supplies are just as they were left that fateful afternoon when they ventured out to discover the South Pole. We explored the hut in quiet amazement and final appreciation of just how much those men endured. My visit to "The Hut" has had a profound impact on my understanding of the Scott Expedition.
Upon leaving the hut, we noticed a mother Weddell seal and her pup. We were able to approach quite closely and enjoy the magnificence of a new pup which was perhaps born yesterday. After considerable "sun bathing" the pup wiggled around a bit beside the mother; nursed, chewed on its flippers - which reminded us of an infant sucking its thumb, and called to it's mother.
In one spot on earth, I experienced the intensity of history, the magnificence of an active volcano, the splendor of a new life, and the vast expanse of nature. Oh yes, I'm having the time of my life.
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