It has been a long discussion in the past week or so if we would have helicopter time to go to Cape Evans. With the helicopter flights to the ice edge getting delayed, the likelihood of going was getting smaller. Luckily, after a discussion with us, the decision was that if the helicopter flights could be booked, we would go to Cape Evans to explore the area and be aware of what it takes to do research in that area. We also wanted to see the melt pools with bacterial mats that are abundant around there.
Again, the view from the helicopter on the way there was stunning and I got to get a window seat on the island side, which has amazing views to the glaciers and mountains. Cape Evans is everything that I thought Antarctica would look like, we landed with an incredible view to Barne Glacier, and to the other side to Scott’s Hut (sorry, I got the huts confused in some other posts, the hut at the hut point is called Discovery hut). The area had a really serene feel to it and as we walked around the landscape the views got better and better.
While waiting for our tour of Scott’s hut, we got to explore the area. Skuas use this area for nesting, and there were many of them around the place. We were careful to not disturb them. When we walked to the Wind Vane Hill where there is a memorial cross for members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) who died in the vicinity, we could see an iceberg and some ice floes. Everywhere we looked, it looked incredible. The grandiosity of the landscape and the silence in there makes it feel very calm. Later we got to see the small pieces of ice moving from there in to the open water. It was an interesting phenomenon to watch.
We got to see a couple of penguins that were just wandering around the hut for a while. I will never get tired of watching them! Later in the day, while we were waiting for the helicopter to pick us up, there was a Weddell seal hanging around the snow, and we all took many photos of it! Just instants after we got a little over taking photos of the Weddel seal, someone spotted a leopard seal on the water, it was putting its head out in search for penguins. We observed that seal for a long time to see if it would end up catching any of the penguins or not; it didn’t.
In past years in this course, the participants had a chance out on the sea ice in this area. It is hard to think of it when we saw so much open water here, but often times it will be frozen.
When we got back to the base I went straight back to the lab to work on the report. The due day is Thursday at 8 am. We have a pretty decent report and presentation and there were things that I wanted to work on before handing it in. I ended up going to sleep around 1:30 am.