13 October, 1998
I thought I had better make an entry into my journal before I
fall asleep. Today has been an incredible day. We flew 100 miles out to Granite Harbour to collect fish from under the ice at Cape
Geology. The flight there was absolutely incredible. We were taken there by helicopter. The helicopter left us there and returned to McMurdo. We were out of radio contact all day so we were on our own the whole day. We took survival bags in case we were stranded by weather. Any time you go out in the field for any length of time you have to take along survival bas. Many groups have found themselves stranded and the bas literally saved their lives. The weather in Antarctica is unpredictable.
Granite Harbour is full of large granite boulders along the shoreline. In 1911 a rough shelter was built by some of the early explorers at Cape Geology. We saw the reamins of the hut were still there when we went climbing around on the shore.
The weather today at Granite Harbour was beautiful but cold. I was more bundled up today than I have been since coming here to Antarctica. The wind was the hardest to take today. It blew down
off the glacier and was cold especially on my cheeks.
We brought special drills to cut holes in the ice. The drill cut holes about 1 foot in diameter. We had to drill down about 7
feet to hit water and that was in the cracks in the ice. We were only about 50 yards from the shore but the water was teeming with fish. Ice fishing with no shelter is not fun when the wind is blowing. The fishing was no problem. Every time I dropped my line down the hole I would almost immediately pull out a fish. Having to grab a fish with bare hands in -20 degree weather in freezing water when the wind is blowing is not fun. It was impossible to remove the hook from the fish with gloves. About 2pm the wind stopped blowing
so it got more bearable. We brought back about 30 live fish. We had more but the containers we had them in did not insulate well against the cold wind so the fish got too cold.
The flight back was incredible. The pilots took us back through the Dry Valleys. They are named Dry Valleys because no rain has fallen there for at least two million years. There are glaciers flowing down some of them but here is no falling precipitation
because cold dry air that builds up on the Antarctic ice sheet blows down these valleys out to sea. The valleys are considered to be the driest place on earth. They were beautiful and typical glacier
valleys containting the characteristic U-shape. The wind carved rock faces was fascinating. As we were flying along you could see ice falls where the continental glacier was pouring over the mountains down into the valleys. This place is a geologists dream. After we left the valleys we flew over the Ross Ice Sheet and landed at McMurdo.
Now I am a mass of aching muscles and drooping eyes after drilling all those ice holes with the jiffy drill and enduring that cold wind. It takes a toll on your body after a while. I am more tired today than any day I have been here. It is time once again to close our another day and get some rest. I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow holds in store for me.
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