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Jan 23

Today has been a busy work day. The science teams have continued to sort things out, set them up, and tie them down. Once we get underway, and especially when we emerge from the Ross Sea ice into the open Southern Ocean, the water may be rough at times. Anything that isn’t tied down risks being tossed unceremoniously to the floor.

The floor itself has metal ridges to stop items sliding across it, and the ceiling has tracks with eyebolt hooks that can be moved at will and used as anchors for ropes and cords. The benches are all made of wood, so scientists can drill eyebolts into wherever they desire to secure their equipment with bungies and cords.

It’s our last night in McMurdo—our last chance to visit the store, to eat at the McMurdo mess hall, to stand on land, and to have some solitude. For the next forty days, we will be one big floating family.

Personally, I take the opportunity for one last hike on Antarctic ground, this time a solitary climb past Scott’s Discovery Hut and up the Arrival Heights trail. It is another steep and slippery slope of dark, sharp volcanic scree, and once a hill is between me and McMurdo, the silence and peace are absolute. There is barely a breath of wind and only the occasional skua, black rock, ice-covered ocean, and ever shifting light to keep me company. It is the perfect last evening before we castoff.

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