21 November, 2001
With no sleep from the previous night, I was tranported back to the ice runway to board an Air National Guard LC-130 immediately after breakfast. Before boarding, I took one last 360 degree view of McMurdo Sound. It is a beautiful place. The weather was very clear this morning, allowing great views of Mt. Erebus spewing smoke and ash 26 miles away.
Our flight took off and flew over the frozen Ross Sea. Over an hour into the flight, the imposing Transantarctic Mountians began to poke above the glaciated fields below. A short time later, the mountains were replaced with the featureless landscape of the windswept Antarctic Plateau. The polar plateau looks like the Midwest...only covered in 10,000 feet of ice.
The touch down was smoother than I expected, but when the doors opened I found myself unprepared. With the windchill temperature at -74 degree F, my lungs rejected the first frigid breath I took with a fitful cough. Drawing the coyote fur lined hood of my parka over my head helped. I was greeted by my friends and other members of the AMANDA team. Mats, the Swedish teacher, and a few others helped carry my bags to the dome. The walk to the dome was short, but even in that amount of time my beard was covered in ice.
During our orientation/safety briefing, I started to feel the effects of the altitude. I felt like someone had punched me really hard...a feeling that would persist the remainder of the day. It was stressed many times to take it easy the first day or two, so your body can adjust to living at an altitude equivalent to +10,000 feet.
A few hours later, I was finally reunited with my luggage and given my sleeping assignment. To my surprise, I was assigned to the elevated dorm, previously known as the beaker box. All sleeping quarters are 24 hour quiet zones! Because the pole has 24 hours of sunlight, people work at various times during the day. Also, the dorms are somewhat dark, to assist people with sleeping.
Since I had not slept for the two previous days, I knew I would have little trouble getting some rest the first night. I tip-toed into my room, so as not to wake my roommate, put in ear plugs, and finally wrapped two socks around my head to block the sunlight seeping through the window shade. I slept soundly for eleven hours.
Biological Data Weather:
Saturated Oxygen: 88 Temperature: -53 F
Pulse Rate: 78 Windchill: -74 F
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