November 7, 2004
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Pancakes for breakfast and a day trip to a nearby ridge for our day off! The rocks on this ridge are very beautiful. There are many different kinds of rock there, but all of them have been shaped into beautiful patterns by the wind. Also, the fog came in, which provides a good picture of what it looks like when the outside world disappears into a cloud (which has happened a few times since we have been here). It was a great day, which we then finished off with a pork tenderloin dinner and a chance to finish up "The Day After Tomorrow". This time, we had the computer hooked up to a generator!
November 8-13, 2004
I got good work done, completing and sampling four one-meter snowpits to add to the data from the original two-meter pit that Karl and I dug. Drilling continues, as we continue to get deeper and deeper ice to tell us about the history of the snow and climate at this site. I also got some more samples from sites at the four corners of the glacier, which made for beautiful side trips and great additional information about the Clark. Meanwhile, the food is incredible! Both Mike and Terry are excellent cooks, and we are not suffering.
Terry also got out his "kite" and flew it when the wind got strong enough. This kite is strong enough to pull a person right off the ground, and Mike got kind of beat up as it dragged him a little ways along the snow. There are safety releases built into the kite, so there was no real danger, only a lot of good fun with the wind.
November 14, 2004
Wow. Today, Mike and I spent our day off going down to the floor of the nearby Victoria Valley. It was truly awesome and totally foreign down on the valley floor. We were in Antarctica, and yet the scenery was beach sand as far as you wanted to look. Mike then realized in the middle of the day that we could walk barefoot in the sand comfortably. Unbelievably warm. We then headed for a set of sand dunes you can see for miles around. They are probably 20 feet high and 100 feet in diameter in places. Beautiful smooth sand. And right through the middle of the valley runs what looks like a river of sand, 200 feet wide or wider. It was absolutely incredible. Our last stop in the valley was at the foot of the lower Victoria glacier, where the ice meets this sand landscape in a cliff 50 feet high.
We then climbed the slope back up to the Clark (~500 vertical meters) and our camp, but as we were heading home, we watched the sand blown in a beautiful classic sandstorm on the valley floor. For all of this, I never needed more than a fleece top and my hat to keep warm. We also ran into some New Zealand scientists as we were leaving, and it is very strange to run into other people in a place as foreign as this. They were very nice, and we chatted a while before heading back to our camps for dinner. What a day!
November 15, 2004
Today we moved. The weather has certainly changed for the warmer! I spent the entire day with no coat on and with no gloves. Bright sunshine and very calm. Beautiful weather. It took us about four hours to move our camp by helicopter, and then another five hours to get camp set up again in the new location. Setting up camp involves the usual campsite chores, such as setting up tents and sorting camping gear. But in these sites, there are a couple of extra features, such as the underground outhouse (in the picture with the flags surrounding it and the tarp over it) and the "freezer", another pit in which we keep our frozen food, so that it stays in the shade and doesn't get too much sun.
Interestingly, the mass balance pole we are camped near shows a loss of 20 cm of snow since last year. It will be interesting to see what the other poles show.
November 16, 2004
Karl and I dug the main snowpit for the Commonwealth today, while Mike and Terry set up the drill. The one down side to the continuing nice warm weather here is that the snow melts on my boots during the day and then refreezes at night; this makes my boots ice blocks in the morning. But I'll accept that and figure out a way to fix it if it means we keep having this nice weather! Ground beef and bean burritos for dinner. Excellent as always.
ight; this makes my boots ice blocks in the morning. But I'll accept that and figure out a way to fix it if it means we keep having this nice weather! Ground beef and bean burritos for dinner. Excellent as always.