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23 December, 2002

Still Chugging Along

Date: 12/23/02

Latitude: 85 38 55.50 S

Longitude: 108 21 39.26 W

Time of Observations: 10:00 p.m. local time

Temperature: -23C / -9F

Wind speed: 7 knots

Wind Chill: -32 C/ -26 F

Wind direction: Westerly

Meters of ice collected: 383 m

By Betsy Youngman

The past twenty-seven hours have been spent in transit from site three to site four. Thanks to an eleven-hour weather delay (due to ice fog and clouds), we are now halfway to our destination, Hercules Dome. We creep along this beautiful white landscape carefully, as we are moving from West to East Antarctica, traversing areas where the ice is actively flowing from a high point on the ice sheet creating the potential for crevasses. As I write this log, Brian just arrived to report that in the past thirty kilometers the ice layers have become " really fascinating, looking like sedimentary cross bending." He describes that the "deeper layers are becoming truncated, cut by the layers above them". Earlier today, Jim and Blue, desiring to make an adjustment to their radar program, sent an e-mail via our Iridium connection to Steve Arcone, now on his way home, and promptly received his advice.

While we must collect data and remain safely out of reach of crevasses, we must also keep moving rapidly enough to stay ahead of the same cloudy weather that caught us yesterday obscuring our vision and forcing us to stop and wait. Moving across the ice is a delicate balance between forces, too fast and we cannot see crevasses or collect necessary data, too slow and we will be caught by a storm. The trains are moving well; our progress is steady. The ice and snow in this section is firm enough for our sleds to float well on their skis. The weather window that we are traveling in is giving us beautiful blue skies and sunshine. The snow patterns left by the wind are like delicate woven herringbone fabric. Small ice crystals float from the sky creating a spectacular glittering effect. While we all miss our families and friends, it is special to be in this uniquely beautiful place, so far away from civilization, at this time of year.

While we are anxious to finish this leg of travel, we are using our time productively here. The Christmas Holiday is nearing and we are making preparations for our celebration, no matter our location, we hope to share music and food as well as small gifts that we have made to exchange with one another.

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