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22 December, 2002

Scott's Hut

Our last night before leaving for the field camp, we decided to kick back and do something for fun. Around McMurdo, if you are working on a science project, you are called a beaker. I'm not sure what the support staffs are called. I'll have to do some research on that. Anyway, we Stream Team beakers worked all day today in Crary Lab getting ready to deploy on the helicopter tomorrow. I worked in the LTER lab washing about 300 sample bottles that we will use in the field to collect water and algae samples. The water sample bottles were first soaked in de-ionized water and then rinsed three times in the DI water. The algae sample bottles were baked in the muffle furnace at 450 degrees Celsius, and the caps were washed in a 10% hydrochloric acid solution. (HCl) I learned a lot about safe lab practices as we worked all day packing our supplies for the field.

We were tired, but decided to walk out to Scott's hut about 8:00 PM. It is still amazing to walk outside and have the sun be overhead at night time! The outside of the hut looks like new wood. I really thought that the Antarctic program must have built a new shed around the ancient one to protect it, but I was wrong. It has been preserved just as it was in the early 1900's when his team was camped on the point overlooking McMurdo Sound. They chose a site to camp that has a fantastic view of frozen ocean, mountains, volcanoes and valleys. We unlocked the door and entered a time warp. We walked through slowly and quietly. I even felt a bit timid as I turned corners, wondering if one of the explorers might be standing there surprised to see us in his home.Everything is left just as the men of Scott's party had it. There is even a half eaten biscuit in a tin, pants hanging out to dry on a line strung across the room and raw seal in a pan to be cooked. I was surprised at how large the hut is. From pictures I had seen, I thought it was rather small. It actually has several rooms divided by large blankets hanging from the ceiling. The ceiling is high. It may even have some sleeping lofts up above, but we wondered if they lost some heat by having it be so high. They cooked in a fire pit in a hole in the floor, so the height may have helped dissipate the smoke that would have been generated. It was with great reverence that we entered this shrine to the men who lost their lives trying to explore the unknown.

The Scott hut is a museum, and I found it amazing that everyone is allowed to check out a key and enter it to explore on your own. You are trusted to not touch or take anything, and the best part is that people respect that here. Of course there are severe legal penalties if you should not follow the rules. But sometimes that does not stop people from doing wrong back home. Antarctica is special in so many ways!

1. Discovery Point is the location of one of the huts built by Sir Robert Falcon Scott. His is an amazing and sad story. The cross on the hill memorializes the last fatal trek he made returning from the South Pole where he discovered he was the second person, not the first, to make it to the Pole.

2. A look inside Scott's hut.

3. A wooden box, marked with Scott's expedition.

4. Sarah, from the glaciology team, cooking on the


5. Another view of the cooking area.

6. A carcass still hangs over the cooking pit. It was so cold the day we visited, that condensation from our warm clothes and breath gives the eerie feeling that there is actually smoke coming out of that ancient fire pit. Could the ghosts of Scott's team still be there?

7. Me, looking through the blanket covering the window from

one room of the hut into the other.

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