22 October, 1998
Boy was this an exciting day. We did a play and work day today. We had one of our fishing huts moved out to Cape Evans where Scott's Hut (one of the first Antarctic Explorers) is located. It took the drill rig about 3 hours to get there. It took us about 45 minutes. We drove the snowmobiles and boy did we fly.
This morning we met the driller at Cape Evans and had him drill two holes, one for the fishing hut and a safety hole about 30 feet away for the divers to get out of the water if something is blocking the hole in the hut. Something like a seal, for instance. After we set up the hut we had lunch and I fished for about 30 minutes. I caught 15 bernachii. Since we were not going back to McMurdo for a while Dr. Petzel decided to put the fish in one of the traps and lowered it into the water. This would ensure that the fish would be alive when we returned. We then turned to play.
We headed over to Cape Royds which was about another thirty minute snowmobile trip. It was incredible. I must have reached 60 mph on my snowmobile and naturally I was still not able to keep up with Dr. Petzel. Actually this time I needed to stay behind him. One of the problems at this time of year is that the sea ice is beginning to break up and thin out. He was more experienced on the ice so I was most willing to let him lead. We came to a crack that was about 4 feet wide. A crack is not what you might think. These cracks have filled back in with ice and snow. They just are not as thick as the rest of the ice so you have to be careful crossing them. Dr. Petzel checked it with his ice pick and said it was safe to cross. After he drove across it I got a little nervous about it. There was a slight lip leading up to the crack. I backed up my snowmobile to get a running start. I was not going to take any chances. I forgot about how fast the snowmobile accelerated.
After I leaped over the ice crack I got to feeling my oats. I was flying along on the snowmobile when we came to a large expanse of ice with no snow on it. At about 50 mph the snowmobile started doing 360's and there was nothing to do but hold on. I just knew it was going to flip over. Fortunately there were no rough spots so that all I did was spin. My heart was in my mouth. It slowed me down, for a while.
At Cape Royds there is a protected Adelie Penguin colony. At this colony you can look down from a rocky bluff but you cannot get anywhere near the penguins. Another of the early explorers, Shackleton, built a hut here when he was attempting to cross Antarctica back around 1915. His hut is still standing and contains all of the materials left behind. This is another piece of preserved history. We explored his hut and the area around it and then headed to the ice caves. On the way there I got the scare of my life.
On the way to the ice caves we passed by the front of a glacier tongue. It must have been 100 feet high. In front of it, sunning themselves were three Weddell seals. They were beautiful. They even seemed to pose for us, rolling onto their sides and raising their flippers while we took pictures. The animals here are beautiful.
We finally reached the snow caves. I actually was not that thrilled about seeing snow caves. After all they were nothing but holes in the front of a glacier. I could not have been more wrong. The first thing that strikes you when you walk inside the cave is the blue light. All light waves but light blue are filtered out. It was incredible inside. The next thing that was so amazing was that the ceilings were covered with fragile, hexagonally shaped ice crystals. It was beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. It is difficult to describe their appearance but they were magnificent to see. It was well worth the trip to the caves. After that we headed back to the fishing hut to gather up the fish and head back to McMurdo
All my hard work catching those fish went for nought. All but three of the fish found their way out of Dr. Petzel's traps. The next problem we faced was to get the three fish back to McMurdo alive. I was given the task to race back with the fish in a large thermos barrel to try and get them to McMurdo alive. I cut the forty five minute snow-mobile ride down to thirty but still lost two of the three fish. We are going to have to find a better way to bring the fish back. We are starting to run short of fish for the rest of our experiments and time is running out on our stay in Antarctica. That is a problem for tomorrow. My day has again come to an end. I have about two weeks left in Antarctica so keep watching for more adventures. If you have any questions for me forward them to me and I promise I will answer them. Bye again.
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