Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Wednesday night here at McMurdo (we are a day ahead of the U.S.) and we just had yet another flight to pole cancelled. We were all packed up and out at the ice runway again and the weather turned blustery, the air becoming opaque with ice. You can't help but laugh about it though. When we all came wandering back into building 155 again, everyone else in the station certainly had a good chuckle. Nothing you can do about the weather. By now I think I've stripped my bed here four times and it was routine to come back in and go make it up again.

It's not all just waiting. We're managing to have a good time here too. A couple of nights ago there was an 80s dance party in one of the McMurdo bars. A bunch of people came over from Scott Base dressed in amazing costumes, with mohawk wigs and goofy sunglasses and the rest. Being stuck here without any of my luggage (it's all strapped into a pallet ready to fly at any moment), I did my dancing ever so stylishly in my USAP-issued insulated Carhartt coveralls.

After the party, my colleague Martin and I walked down to Hut Point at around midnight. This was the site where we saw penguins last year and where I was mesmerized watching the ice breaker working all through the night. This time, the bay was still covered completely in ice and the wind was blistering, so we couldn't linger for very long. On the way out, I was struck by the image of footprints in the snow, accumulating the raw volcanic dust of the surrounding landscape. Where each footstep falls, the snow compresses. When the wind blows, the snow between the prints flies away, but the compressed imprints of each bootstep stay solid, accumulating little snow drifts and eventually crumbling apart. The same thing happens in the ice at pole, and I've noticed it often on the path out to the telescope. There is something strange and haunting about seeing raised footprints withstanding the extreme winds, while everything else about the landscape drifts and changes so easily.

And once again, I took a moment (in a -45 degree windchill, it really was just a moment) to appreciate the midnight sun over the mountains. Just stunning. Even if all of the waiting at McMurdo can be frustrating, there is nothing like this view anywhere else.


Blogger Judy said...

Kate - it's Judy in Athens. Loving your comments and photos. I would love to go visit you there. Making comforting corn chowder soup and whole wheat bread - want to pop over for lunch?

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Blogger D said...

I am thinking of you surrounded by silver light 24 hours a day. Milo would have a field day with you wrapped in the altitude experiment wires in which he could get tangled and tossed- all you need is a feather or two. M.

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Blogger Napkinholder said...

Wow, I have never been anywhere near that cold before and those raised foot print pictures were really cool!

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