28 November, 1996
November 28, Thanksgiving Day Ferrell - Remote site 100 km from McMurdo McMurdo Min temp -7.9 ° C Max temp - 3.9 ° C 13 knots prevailing winds Ferrell Min temp - 13.3 ° C Max temp - 5.0 ° C 13 knots prevailing winds Winds down to about 18 mph. Temperature about 15F in AM and down to 6F by evening.
I think the storm has abated. When I wake about 8AM the wind seems to have died down a little. I even think I can hear Dr. Braaten talking in their tent nearby. That's different. With the winds howling, we could hear nothing else outside. Jennifer isn't awake so I sit still and write in my journal while I wait for someone to dig us out of the drifts covering our tent.
About 9 we get out and the air is clear, crisp and cold, but much less wind that on the last 3 days. The sun is shining!! Jennifer and I hurry and get out to photograph without getting breakfast. We'll eat later. Two granola bars and 1 cup of hot chocolate later it is 6:30 PM and we have worked the entire time without stopping.
We walked out nearly a mile and put flags at interesting snow features we wanted to photograph. Then we traced our steps and used the digital camera to photograph these features with a ruler in the photograph for later standards. We also record data indicating the length and height of the wind shaped snow mounds, sastrugi to be precise. This requires a lot of odd positions and I finally find it works better if I just lay on the snow on my side and measure them. Jennifer also has to lay down on the snow. Some features look like humpback whales, others like the curl of the surf. Some look as if God had just come and gouged them out with his finger. There is such an array of things. We take about 110 photos.
Jennifer's hands get very cold and we finally decide to give up and think about dinner since we haven't eaten yet. Amazingly, our parkas are nearly dry. These are the same parkas that had frozen blocks of ice on the front in the morning. Even though it got colder, the ice just sublimed off them. They are nearly dry. Even my wind pants which could literally stand up by themselves because the wet legs froze in the shape of stovepipes are now dry. This gear really is great stuff. I am reminded what Dr. Borg had said. "Trust your gear. You have quality clothing and it will keep you warm." He was right. I would not have thought it possible.
In the early afternoon, we saw a flock of snow terns. I was quite surprised because we are more then 60 miles inland and didn't expect to see any birds. These white birds are very graceful as they glide and swoop. I wonder why then are so far inland?
While Jennifer and I are photographing snow features Dr. Braaten and Suruj are working hard to dig three snow pits. Groups of cuvettes (square sided plastic tubes) are pushed into the side to sample the snow. They dig 3 pits and take 12 groups of samples in each. This is tedious work because the sides of the snow pits must be exactly vertical and an exact distance from the apparatus which sprays small colored glass beads over the snow. Each pit takes about 2 hours.
Since this apparatus has been used for 3 years it is time to dig it up and move it another site. This will require tremendous effort. They decide it is my turn to cook dinner while they begin the work. This is a good idea because I am the weakest member of the group.
I go back to camp, fill the Coleman stove tank, melt snow, thaw food and get ready to cook our Thanksgiving dinner. I always thought it was a lot of work cooking a turkey and all the extras at home, but think that is nothing in comparison to kneeling over a camp stove for hours. I finally get done about 9:30. Dinner: the remainder of our scallops and lobster tails, peas, spinach pasta with pesto sauce, canned apricots. hot chocolate, tea, coffee or cider.
To allow them time to work, I volunteer to finish by washing the dishes alone. This takes more gas, snow, heating water, etc. Each time you need fuel, you have to crawl out of the tent and fill it outside. That means putting on your ECW gear. Getting snow means two more trips and a long wait for the snow to melt and get hot. Dish cleanup requires another trip to dispose of the "gray water" from the dish water. I finish with dinner dishes at 12:15 AM. That must go on record for the latest I ever stayed up cleaning up dinner dishes from Thanksgiving, but it was a fulfilling day and I am thankful the weather was so good. This has been a great Thanksgiving. We are thankful the storm broke and that the tent still stands, etc.
The three worked from 10PM until 2AM to take down the apparatus and I stayed up to give them hot liquids when they returned. This has been the longest day and I can hardly move around. All my joints are screaming from the abuse they take crawling in and out of the tent or crouching for long times. Since we had so much snow and climbed in and out of our tent there is a sill of ice at the doorway that is rock hard and really hurts when you climb over it. I am not accustomed to kneeling in awkward positions and my ankle is still sore. I look forward to going to bed, but know it means we have to do more digging to get our tent out from the drifts. Thankfully, the drifts aren't too bad and we get to bed before 3AM.
Tomorrow will be a real challenge because we have to take everything down before they come to get us about 2:30 PM. It is finally beautiful outside and I will hate to leave this place, but I wouldn't like to be forced to stay in the tent any more days.
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