Four of the last five of the SPIDER crew– Don, Ed, Sasha, and I– are slated to leave the Ice tomorrow morning. That means this is probably my last blog post– at least until SPIDER 2! It has been an incredible few months, but I can’t say I’m all that sad for it to be ending. I’m ready to have an adventure in New Zealand and then get home to all the people I’ve missed so much while I’ve been away.
As is the nature of field campaigns, it has been an absolute roller coaster, but the highs have certainly made the lows fade in my memory. We got SPIDER on that balloon, and despite all of the complexities and possible points of failure, it worked. That’s a high I won’t be coming down from any time soon.
On top of success with our experiment, we’ve also had the privilege of exploring this amazing part of the world. Many would sacrifice a great deal to get to see this place, and we come here simply as a means to an end. I’ve tried to take advantage and soak it in as much as possible, and I hope I’ve illustrated the experience well enough to bring you all along for the adventure in a small way.
This past week, I’ve gone on all of the hiking trails available in McMurdo, and I’ll close this blog with the pictures from those adventures. Thanks for reading and for all of your support!
A hoard of skua birds enjoying a feast of seal poop.
Another shot of the big crack in the ice from Hut Point, this time with less ice.
Seal in the ice cube pond
Big ol’ pond along the trail
Green! Green vegetation! Haven’t seen any of this in months!
Bill and a pond of green on the Arrival Heights trail.
The Royal Society Range, which peaks at over 13,000 feet- almost as tall as the Rockies!
Bill and the trail end at the top of Arrival Heights.
Me at the top of Arrival Heights.
Bill on the trail back down.
Ice breaker out breaking some ice.
Ed, Don, and Sasha on my last day at LDB.
Me with the McMurdo sign on our way back from trip to the Scott Base store.
Cool rock on the Ob Hill loop.
The far side of Ob Hill gets you to a point where you can’t see any civilization.
Seals like to gather around openings in the ice.
Little melt pools.
Ob Hill has some neat geology going on. It has discrete sections of different colored rocks.
Looking toward town from the far side of Ob Hill.
Looking over town from a little ways up Ob Hill. You can see the orange ship, the Palmer, at dock in the back left.
The Palmer, come to supply the station for the next year and take back a bunch of trash and other stuff to the US.
Sasha and Erik at the sign marking the start of the Castle Rock trail.
Me at the start of Castle Rock.
The beginning of the trail on a gorgeous day.
Erik and Sasha trek through the loose snow.
Looking out over the glacier.
Approaching Castle Rock.
Mt. Erebus and Castle Rock.
Erik and Sasha trudge onward.
Some people drove a Hagglund out to Castle Rock.
Castle Rock, and the clouds that quickly came and did away with our sunny day.
Castle Rock selfie!
Mt. Erebus from the base of Castle Rock.
Erik climbing up Castle Rock. There are ropes along the way to assist you. It’s a pretty long fall down, so you really have to hold onto the ropes!
A view of the ocean from the top.
Again, looking toward the ocean.
Mt. Erebus, and the large group we found on top of Castle Rock.
Erik, with the Ross Sea in the background.
Me, conqueror of Castle Rock.
On our way back from Castle Rock, Sasha realized she’d forgotten her water bottle in the shelter. She’s a black dot in this picture. Also, you can see the weather that came up on us in a hurry here.