28 January, 1997

1/27 11:07PM

A Love Letter---

If diamonds are a symbol of love, then nature must have an inordinate love
of Antarctica.  On a sunny day when you look across the cold white ice you
can see the gleam of a million, million diamond-like speckles.

It is not hard to fall in love with this place. I should know, I have been
in love with it for many, many years.  Although I had only seen it in
pictures, imagined it in my mind, and dreamed of it on many nights, when I
first saw it I was not diappointed.

Everyone dreams foolish dreams---we dream of the best job, the perfect
life, the ideal lover.  We dream and we sometimes come close the best, the
perfect, and the ideal.  I found my thirty-seven year dream this year.

When I was eleven or twelve I read about Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton and
Byrd.  I read about this place.  And I began to dream.  My friend around
the corner, Rich Comely, shared the same dream---we were going to explore
Antarctica.  I could not hear well and Rich could not see well.  We agreed
that we would make the perfect team.  My eyes, his ears.

I don't know if Rich remained true to the dream or not.  I almost did not.
As I grew up I realized that the dream of exploring this continent was a
child's dream.  As an adult I felt it should be left behind.  But one year
ago, at the age of forty eight I decided to follow the child in me and to
live the dream.  I succeeded and now I am here.


When I started for Castle Rock this afternoon I did not know that tomorrow
I would have to leave  and the Castle Rock hike would be my last ever.  If
I had, I would have moved more slowly and lingered at the top.  I would
have stopped longer to look at the diamond-like sparkles sprinkled across
the ice.  I would have watched more intently the mist that moved across the
face of Castle Rock. I would have climbed more slowly to the top.  I would
have stopped more often to see the views.  And at the top, if I had known I
was leaving, I may have cried.

Today was a special day at Castle Rock.

Today the mists rode over and around it.  It looked like a dream castle.
Something unattainable.  Although volcanic, it has the look of the buttes
of Monument Valley, the ones I mentioned in an earlier entry.  And just as
the buttes of Monument Valley inspire the Navajo Way, Castle Rock inspires
the Antarctic Way.

It is new to the island off the coast of the continent, a few million years
old at most.  But it has endured years of cold pounding winds.  It has
endured the coldest winters and the coldest summers.  It has endured the
intense light of endless summer suns and endless winter darkness.  It has
endured these things for millions of years.  And just 100 years ago it was
seen by man.  Like the buttes of Monument Valley it holds secrets that no
human could ever know.

For some this continent is a frozen hell, for others "an improbable Eden of
Ice and stone".  Some loved her, but later grew to hate her---"God, what an
awful place this is."  Others hated her, but later grew to love her.  And
still others loved her always.

My stay is over.  Although I want to return, I doubt that I ever will get
the chance again.  But Antarctica is now a part of me, and will be a part
of me until I die.

Return to Bill Philips' Page

Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.