Flight to SLW Field Camp Cancelled…Went For a Hike
Stayed up till 2:00 am working on blogs that could be posted when I was away at the field camp. Got up at 6:00 am to prepare for flight. At 7:10 am I found out that we didn’t get the flight today….we were in the #3 position as a back-up flight, and #2 got the flight. So, back to work as usual all morning, but after lunch we decided that we needed to get outside and shake off the blues about our cancelled flight. What to do…go for a hike!
I’ve wanted to hike up to Arrival Heights from Hut Point ever since I got here. When we set off on today’s two-hour break from work, I had to stop and think about the last time I had taken a break from work and spent a couple of hours outside during the day. It was our hike around Ob Hill on New Year’s Day. It was time to get some exercise!
Marci, Emily, and Brian (all college undergraduate/graduate students with WISSARD) and I walked out to Hut Point to begin our adventure. What a gorgeous day to be outdoors. Temperature 23 degrees F, sunshine galore, little to no wind, plus a bright blue sky equals a great day! As we approached Hut Point, I noticed that the amount of open water increases with each passing day…and it was so blue today.
Look at how blue the sky is, too…the contrast of Vince’s Cross and the sky is awesome.
Looking back on McMurdo Station from Hut Point, you can see that Ob Hill still has quite a bit of snow on it. For weeks it looked brown and now it’s been cold enough to keep the snow from melting away.
Emily, Marci, and Brian at the top of Hut Point…
I jumped in a photo, too!
Looking out along the coast of Ross Island, we could see Big Razorback Island in the distance.
As we climbed up toward Arrival Heights, Hit Point faded away…but Mt. Discovery was still prominent in the background.
We passed by two skuas, just sitting right on the trail.
As we moved to the side of the trail to give them space, they flew off.
Soon we reached another viewpoint and I was happy to take a break for a moment and snap a photo. We had been climbing steadily the whole time.
The view of the Transantarctic Mountains across McMurdo Sound is a view I never get tired of around here, just like views of Mt. Erebus.
I’ve been waiting to see the ice edge…where open ocean is visible. Today I got my wish. Look at that sliver of blue in the distance. That’s the open ocean!
Our trail leveled out a bit, which made walking on the loose rock and gravel much easier. That blue sky was just magnificent today!
Emily was goofing around in the deep drift of snow and she made a snow angel.
Next she tried to do a handstand…her head disappeared into the soft snow!
We stopped at another viewpoint and snapped some more photos! It’s impossible not to enjoy the view, the fresh air, and good company.
I plodded along the trail, up the lat big rise to the top of Arrival Heights. At that point the trail is closed and we had to retrace our steps back to a trail junction. Marci and Emily were exuberant when we reached the sign marking Arrival Heights (they are pretty much like this all the time!). They jumped to high five our accomplishment.
My much older knees preferred to stand firmly on the ground for the picture!
The view of McMurdo Station, Ob Hill and everything else I’m used to seeing at sea level is behind Brian.
Heading down now, we wound our way through some deep snow and hiked past a lot of communications equipment.
It’s not always about looking around when I take a hike…I’m always interested in patterns in nature. In this case it was the soft ripples in the snow, caused by the wind. The ripples remind me of the soft peaks of whipped cream.
Some of the drifts were pretty high.
We connected with a service road to get us back to town. Along the way we saw lots of containers that will probably be used to get trash or other items back to the United States on the resupply cargo ship that will be coming to McMurdo Station in a few weeks.
All of these huge boxes are filled with food waste that will be shipped back to the U.S.
Most beautiful natural feature of the day…you guessed it, my favorite — Mt. Erebus. It was the perfect day to take photos of the best peak around!
So, while it wasn’t the day we thought we’d have when we woke up, it turned out that I could enjoy being outdoors and taking a short break from work. That made us all feel better. Keep your fingers crossed that tomorrow our flight to the field camp won’t be cancelled. We are anxious to get out there and pitch in to do the science work and to be there when the drilling team reaches Lake Whillans. Stay tuned.
Wherever you are, I hope you enjoyed something fantastic about the natural world today!