11 December, 2001
Over breakfast this morning, I had chance to talk with the pilots and mechanic of the Twin Otter. They have been with us since I arrived, provided close support to the team. Close support is when the plane stays with field team to transport them to remote locations. If it were not for the plane being here, we would have to cross great extenses of the glacier. This would be very dangerous due to the exposure to the elements and the risk of falling in a crevice.
The pilots and mechanic are from Canada. All of the interior flights are operated by a Canadian company. The main pilot, named Mike, has quite an interesting background. When he is not in the Antarctic flying in the interior, he is in North America flying planes that help fight forest fires. He has filled our morning with adventurous stories about being a pilot.
During the afternoon, we continued to collect many more rock samples. I was happy to have gathered quite an interesting assortment myself. Everytime I found myself atop a Nanatak, I was always awestruck by the beauty of the landscape. Below me it was possible to see the vast Reedy Glacier flowing every so slowly below toward the Ross Sea. The size of the glacier is unbelievable, wider than the Mississippi. Even though the mountains on the opposite side of the glacier are a great distant away, they appear deceiving close due to the pristine atmospheric conditions found in Antarctica.
Glaciers flow just like rivers, only on a much slower scale. From the high vantage point of a Nanatak, it is possible to see other glaciers flowing in to the Reedy like tributaries. Piles of eroded boulders lie on the glacier surface, many of them larger than a car. If these glaciers ever melt, they will deposit these huge boulders randomly on the land. It is this same process that deposited boulders in New England from Canada during the last ice age in North America.
Tomorrow will be my last day at the Reedy Glacier, but it is expected to be a very exciting one. We will be conducting a vertical profile, which will entail quite a bit of climbing using our ice climbing gear.
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