Once captive on the ship we were briefed that it would be a slow journey home. Following the broken refrozen chunks to the fast ice edge a few miles away was easy enough. The journey through the open polynya was very pleasant, with stretches of open water, pancake ice bobbing up and down in the breeze, and young grey sea ice rippling in the wake of the ship as we weaved through majestic icebergs, on the trawl deck drinking our first beers since before resupply.
The ship has left Hobart to come and get us and our time here is quickly coming to a close. On the one hand I’m mercilessly harassing our risk averse station leader into letting me experience everything I can in the last few weeks, and as a result I’ve pulled off some great little trips away.
It was dark outside Davis living quarters on Sunday morning as we made the final preparations for departure on our traverse to the Rauer island group. A small handful of dedicated fellow expeditioners had gathered to send us off, somehow making things seem serious. We are only going for five days, right? Nevertheless the six of us, three in each vehicle, were going to have to be completely sufficient for our trip as we would be too far away from the skeleton crew left at station for them to be of any help. This trip was in many ways the climax of the winter season. My best day of the Antarctic experience was the helicopter trip to the Rauer islands in the summer. This Rauers traverse trip was to be the best week.
Summer has helicopters, winter has quad bikes.
A really fun way to get around the Vestfold hills. For this three day trip we based ourselves at Watts hut, each day exploring something different. It was primarily a recreational (or “jolly”) trip, although we did spend a surprising amount of time tidying up the hut, installing a new heater and an oven bench top, changing the gas, checking fuel and supplies.
It’s already a month exactly since my last post, and I am feeling the heat. I’ve long had a sense of urgency inherited from Dad. Something about pre-empting the wheelchair – to do everything you can, while you can. But even so, over the winter months it is easy to be lulled into thinking that you have lots of time. If winter is a time of hibernation then we are most decidedly well into spring.
Family and friends have commented that I must be looking forward to going back home. But in fact the main thing on my mind is that I need to take every opportunity I can to go out and explore.