Day 19: First Sponge Bath
We experienced a dehydration attack last night, so we drank our four liters of water which we had melted in preparation for the next day's travel. Then rising early, we melted four more liters to replenish our bottles. And while we were at it, we indulged in a sponge bath, our first of the trip because of the need to conserve fuel. The tent was warm and dry, thanks to the stove and the lesser wind, and the morning felt like a little bit of heaven.
But in Antarctica summer waits for no one, so we packed camp and set off soon after.
With such good weather, today's travel was a joy.
With such good weather, today's travel was a joy. Just to think: no commute, no job even, no bad news on the radio, no cares in the world. Nothing but skiing all day though wide open spaces.
The wind makes the sastrugi and turns it into ice, and because last winter's winds were so boisterous, we think, the terrain is positively covered with them. Of our 19 days here, we have seen only 2 days where the ground was smooth; say, smooth enough to land an airplane, for example. Not to complain, but just to compare this year's conditions with that of the previous years.
At first glance, the viewer might think the terrain is at least somewhat flat. But look at the shadows of Jenny's skis. The left tip is about eighteen inches above the snow, and her right heel is about eight inches above.
Again, the terrain looks somewhat flat. Until you look at the tracks. My skis are hitting only the high spots, and between them are deep ravines. Rough sastrugi makes for slow and difficult skiing.
Jenny has her camera lowered to give a better impression of the roughness of the sastrugi. Note her ski tracks between her skis and sled.
We like to ski on the berms whenever we find one. That's one, just ahead. "Berm" is my term in relation to the snow and sastrugi formation. They are a bit higher than the surrounding terrain and a great deal smother. They tend to peter out after a few hundred yards, and don't run very north and south; so following a berm pushes us somewhat off course. But they sure make life easier. And I think a pilot could land on one, if needed.
Writing one's latitude in the snow is a tradition with polar explorers, whenever crossing a degree of latitude. Or it could be that the tradition started with Jenny. Either way, we crossed 83 degrees South this afternoon, and that leaves us with seven more to go.
This afternoon we crossed 83 degrees South latitude. Each degree is about 69 miles apart.
Home sweet home.
Writing this update.
Evening camp: S 83° 05.202' W 83° 10.738'
Today's mileage: 13.7
Winds: 10 knots SSW; Weather: sunny
Altitude: 4,100 ft., Temperature: -11C