Day 47: Antarctica's Double Sun
Antarctica's double sun.
We've had the double sun for a week now, off and on. Today it lasted almost all day, and at times it was so bright we could not look at it for long, even with our goggles on. It felt like staring at a welding arc.
We had not heard about this double sun phenomenon, and to experience it first hand was awesome. We think it is found in other parts of the world, but not with such intensity.
To complement the double sun, the day was gorgeous. We skied along admiring the endless stretches of whiteness, negotiating sastrugi fields, and glancing back at the double suns.
As the afternoon wore on, the northeast wind began to bite more fiercely. We knew the temperature was dropping, but the sledging was keeping us warm enough.
As usual we kept our rest breaks very short - just long enough to drink some water, eat a slice of salami and a small piece cookie bar, and then put a few hard candies in the mouth for on the go.
As the day wears on, the double sun is swinging around the horizon - from our left side, to behind us, then to our right.
By 6:20 pm we were ready to find a campsite and quit for the day. But we had entered an area of tightly-packed sastrugi, it looked like a frozen class 3 rapids on an immense river. These sastrugi rapids went on and on, stretching out to the horizon all around us.
We figured that if we kept going we would either find a small, flat, level tent-size area, or we would reach the far end of this sastrugi field.
After nearly an hour we finally found a small area suitable for camping. But ahead to the south, and indeed surrounding us on all sides is what feels like an immense ocean of sastrugi.
So we put in an 11-hour day today, and just about reached 88 degrees. When we stopped for the day at 7 pm, the temperature was minus 30 degrees C.
Beautiful halos in the sky, caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere The one on the right is the classic 22° halo. The rainbow on the left is a 46° halo, a very unusual phenomenon. The approaching lower clouds are about to engulfed us, and they brought flat light that made finding camp difficult.
Evening camp: S 87° 59.649' W 86° 36.223'
Today's mileage: 12.3
Altitude: 8540 ft., Temperature: -30C
Note: Congratulations to the four-man team "Polar Quest" the British Royal Navy & Marines, who reached the Pole today, December 27. Link. We didn't know these guys very well because back in Punta Arenas they hung out at the miliary base. But after reaching the pole (46 days travel) they took another three weeks to kite back to PH.