Dunes and pies
I've been in Antarctica for almost three weeks, and this past week I went out to the field for the first time. I met up with Kelly at Lake Hoare so we could go to Victoria Valley and sample the dunes. Neither of us had been there before and I didn't have much of an idea of what the place would be like. It certainly is windy in the dry valleys, but there aren't many sand dunes there. Kelly is trying to sample sediments that have been deposited by wind for her thesis research, so the dunes were an obvious place to look.
We had a great flight over the Asgard Range and Wright Valley and then flew into Victoria Valley. It seems like a strange combination to see sand dunes and glaciers in the same place. The dry valleys are a strange place though. We had a couple of hours there to collect Kelly's sand and take some photos to document what it looked like. We were a little confused by what we saw. The shapes of the dunes and the surface ripples indicated that the dominant wind direction was easterly. Throughout the dry valleys, the strongest winds are usually those coming from the west, draining off the polar plateau. We need to do more investigation to understand what we saw there. At least it was a warm and calm day when we were there.
After our trip to Victoria Valley we went back to Lake Hoare and I stayed there for a couple more days. We were preparing Thanksgiving diner for our field team, so I helped with making pies and the other holiday foods. At least this year I remembered to take a "before" picture of the pies and not just the "after". It was a good time and we had some great food.
We had some bad weather in McMurdo and it was mostly overcast and snowy while I was in the field. After Thanksgiving diner I walked around the camp to take a few photos and it did clear up a bit that night.
I was supposed to return to McMurdo on Friday morning, but the helicopters couldn't fly due to bad weather over the sea-ice. It was condition 1 out on the ice. We waited around by the phone and radio waiting for news and then we decided to pass the time by going on a run to collect "ice berries" for camp drinking water. The best drinking water comes from chunks of ice that calve off the front of the glacier and we collect these and melt them. We did finally hear that there was a little break in the weather and they would attempt to fly out to get me and some other people who were hoping to get back to McMurdo that day. It was a bumpy and crowded flight back, but it's good to be here!
When I'm in McMurdo, I do miss Lake Hoare camp and the people there and living next to the Canada Glacier. Although here in McMurdo, the water plant "makes" water for us by de-salinating seawater and we just have to turn on the tap. Collecting ice berries is alot more fun.