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January 14, 2003

Penguins!

So I finally got to watch the penguins.

And, we went on about a thousand helo flights.

Well, maybe three.

Day's mission: Break down the sites at Cape Royds and Three Sisters.

First stop was Cape Royds, home of the penguin rookery. It is also home of one of Scott's huts, and we came prepared with the keys so we could check it out. I was accompanied by Dorothy Burke, a computer type who works upstairs from me.

Pilot Ken dropped us off in the A-Star, and left us to our business. The break-down took us about a half and hour. We walked briefly through the hut, both of us excited to watch penguins, and then watched the funny birds for a good while. Good enough for me to get a bit chilly out there.


[Scott's hut.]


[Penguin rookery.]


[A pair of skuas looks on.]

Ken picked us up after almost two hours. Then, on to Sisters.

Maybe it was because Seth wasn't there. Maybe it was because Barry wasn't there. Either way, Sisters wouldn't let us in. Skank.

But Ken was a trooper. I'll bet it will be clear in a half and hour, he said. Let's try again then.

So we headed back to McMurdo. And, a half and hour later, we headed out again.

The weather had improved. Thevolcano was beautiful, and mostly clear. The summit was clearly visible. The only problem was.... a thin band of skank riding just at the level of the Three Sisters.

Denied again. Back to McMurdo. Come back at 6:30, said Pam of the helo hanger. So, a quick dinner, and back out.

I don't have any pictures from Three Sisters this time around, but finally, with Scottie piloting, we were able to land. The skank had cleared and the lighting was exquisite. I'd never flown this late in the day before. Rather than snapping a shot or two for the folks back home, I tried to work quickly, focusing on breaking down the equipment, and took in the views for myself as I did.

It was sad to be finishing the field work for the season. I looked up at Erebus. This was it. Last helo flight, last excursion, last reason to get out. The world was white and yellow and black and blue. Like a bruise, except a lot prettier. It was a good way to end the season.

Posted by beth at January 14, 2003 8:29 PM