14 December, 2000
It's been a fun packed, work filled last two days. I have been helping Drew Lorrey and Adam Lewis get all the gear and food organized for two field camps. The camp in Beacon Valley led My Dr. Dave Marchant will be Camp Bravo. The mobile camp led by Dr. George Denton and Dr.David Sugden will be Camp alpha.
Dr. Marchant will be arriving in McMurdo with his graduate student Erik on the 15th. As immediately is as possible Adam, Drew, Erik and Dave will head out to Beacon Valley. I will follow later, because the first scheduled snow school begins tomorrow and it is an overnight affair.
We had to package food and suppplies for Bravo camp until the first part of February. There will be a resupply in a couple of weeks. We had to include everything from hammers, ice chisels and maps to cooking fuel,tents, tomato paste and lobster tails. Although we only get lobster once a season!
After everything was boxed up (and the boxes are wooden rock boxes that will be used to ship rock samples back to the University of Maine) we wieghed everything and transported it via forklift down to the helicopter pad. Whenever they are already to go - then all the gear is ready too.
I will come back to McMurdo around the 1st of January and finish the load for Alpha Camp. I will be responsible to complete the weighing, and getting the gear to the helicopter pad. This camp will be more mobile, and we will visit several sites with interesting landscape features. One will be near the sea.
Tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 9 am I am scheduled for snow school. As soon as it is over (Weds at about 4 pm) I have to get on the helicopter on go to Beacon. I am busy trying to get ready for two very different experiences!!
After we were finished with our work, I went to the Ice caves in the Erebus glacier and to make the pilgrimage to Scott's hut at Cape Evans. We went on a large transport vehicle called a Delta. The driver let me sit up front. The ice is getting softer now, so we were on of the last trips out.
The Ice caves are similar to going to a limestone cavern, but it is made ovf ice. Inside the light was just awesome and the colors! Blues, whites and crystals. We wriggled into very small rooms and were all in awe of the formations and the shapes of the ice crystals. when I return, I will post my pictures of all these experiences.
There were many Weddell seals lying around outside the caves. These animals really do like giant pregnant worms and they are not very mobile at all. Mostly they were quite shy and did not acknowledge our presence.
At Cape Evans, we could go into Scott's Hut. This was built by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1912. Everything seems to have been left behind - there is the cooking gear, the tins of food, newspapers, a stuffed emperor penguin on a table, scientific equipment strewn everywhere. Attached were stables for the Siverian ponies that they brought with them in hopes of making it to the south pole first. If youo have never read this story - it really is one of the great ones of the heroic age of exploration.
Scott and his pole party manhauled all the way to the pole, but were not the first - Roald Amundsen of Norway had reached the pole about a month before. Scott's polar party perished on the way back to their base at McMurdo about 9 miles from the next stored dpot of food and supplies.
Well I am writing this Tuesday morning and I must go prepare for snow school, Beacon Valley and beyond!
I look forward to writng more upon my return from the Valleys.
Cheers and penguins
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