23 January, 1999
Good Afternoon to all:
Even though we came home early last night, I slept in today. Yesterday I had gotten up before I wanted to in order to check back in all the equipment at the field center. This didn't take as long as I had expected though!! Everything from the sleeping bags to the forks had to be checked back in and separated into sections as to whether they had been in the field or not. Since most of what I had checked in had not been out it was a fast process. I recharged the batteries for the VHF radios.
We left to fly right on time again at 7 pm. Richard was our pilot again. Tonight would be a short night so that he could come back and get some sleep. The pilots switch schedules from night to day and vice versa. Getting enough sleep would be a safety issue. Richard is up for Tuesday when he will be flying around all the Distinguished Visitors (DV's) who will be in town. Members of most of the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty will be here to debate various issues - including opening the Southern Ocean to commerical fishing.
We flew up the Ferrar Glacier and cut over the Taylor to Pandora Spire. It was of course quite windy as we crossed Windy Gully. The Cavendish Ice Falls were really something - a big kink in the glacier full of crevasses. We flew over the Pearse Valley and got great views of Catspaw Glacier. We landed just above Catspaw and took a quick walk - it was incrdibly windy- I was getting blown over. The spot we landed was entirely smooth and eroded down to bedrock again.
I could look out and see Finger Mountain which marks the entrance to Beacon Valley. It was getting socked in, it was windy, so I knew it was cold in Beacon.
We then flew to the snout of Denton Glacier in Wright Valley. There are some features there that they wanted to check - were the spurs bedrock or a slump? Richard decided to get fuel while we hiked, so we dropped the survival bags on the valley floor and flew back up to the glacier.
As we climbed down we noticed that there were many in place dikes and huge granites. It looked like bedrock to me. On the air photographs the scale of the spur makes it look more like a deposit.
We hiked up and down the face, more volcanic scree!! The bane of my existence! I wonder if I will need knee replacement surgery when I get home.
As we got closer to the floor of the valley, I could see that it was mostly aquariums sized gravels with some large boulders. The Onyx river reflected in the sunlight and I again hope the shots turn out.
Almost as soon as we reached the floor, the helo showed up which saved us the time of looking for the survival bags!! I guess even OAE's (Old Antarctic Explorers) neglect things.
It was early, but we had to come in so that Richard could try to switch to days. But since Richard was flying, we knew that he would come in over the ice edge again and we would be treated to wildlife.
Indeed this time we saw fewer penguins, but more Orcas. As we came down the channel we eventually reached the spot where there was no more open water. So there at the end of the line were at least 6 of the huge animals, spy hopping again. I wondered if they were looking for seals or a way to come further inland. Richard set the helo down and we all got some great pictures.
As soon as I return and get the photographs developed I will posting many photos to this site.
Tonight may be our last night of flying and it will be time for me to get ready to leave, probably on the 29th of January.
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