Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finally in the Field

We finally made it out into the field and we couldn't be more excited.  It was great climbing back into a helicopter.  I have to be honest it is probably my favorite part of this job.  The way those machines defy gravity is mind blowing, and I am terribly spoiled to get to ride in them for this job.  Here is a picture of an iceberg that is on the way to Taylor Valley.  It is trapped in the sea ice from the last time the sound completely opened up.  With how close the edge of the sea ice is already this year, people think that the sound might open up again this summer.  I kind of hope it does because we would be able to see whales, penguins and other sea life from town, and maybe even from New Harbor which is about a two hour hike from F6. 

Here is the Commonwealth Glacier in Taylor Valley.  This is in the Fryxell Basin right across the Lake from F6.  These massive glaciers are pretty cool.  Looks like someone spilled some pancake batter out into Taylor Valley.

Here is my new vacation home at Lake Hoare.  If you look at the pointy triangle tent, mine is the little purple and orange dome tent to the left, and Mikey is in the same type of tent but back behind mine closer to the glacier.  This is called the Canada Glacier, and it defines the eastern edge of Lake Hoare.  While you are laying in your tent you can hear the glacier crack and expand during the night.  It actually sounds just like the ice cracking on the lakes back home.

Here is a picture looking the other way towards the buildings on the Lake Hoare compound.  I debated on whether or not I should include this photo on the blog.  The picture above makes things look pretty epic and like we are pretty rugged (like a camp a Kiwi would use).  Then the photo below makes us look pretty spoiled, and well I guess we are.  The three blue buildings on the left are labs, the larger building that is hard to see behind the labs is the Lake Hoare hut where we hang out and eat, the green building is the jamesway which has extra sleeping room and is where we take our showers, and the other two buildings to the right of that are the tool shed and the generator shed.  So maybe we aren't roughing it like some of the early Antarctic expeditions, but things here are still pretty primative.  Just to give you an idea of the adverse conditions we deal with, usually our wi-fi is pretty dang slow, and the best beer they have to choose from is Coors Light.

Today we hiked to open two stream gage boxes at Green Creek and Canada Stream.  To do this we crossed Lake Hoare, and walked around the Canada Glacier over to Lake Fryxell.  As I am throwing out all of these names and places I am realizing that a good map would be useful.  I will try my best with the limited internet access to get a quality map on here to give some context.  Anyways to open up the gage boxes we have to replace the nitrogen tank in each box, grab the data module that has collected the winter data, replace it with an empty data module, and then make sure the system is working properly.  It is pretty painless minus hauling the heavy nitrogen tanks around.  

This was taken from Lake Hoare looking west toward the always picturesque 1882. 
The picture below was taken on Lake Fryxell.  We were walking near the shoreline on some insanely clear ice.  The ice was about 3 feet thick, and it extended all the way to meet the bottom of the lake where we were.  We kept noticing these crazy looking structures inside of the solid ice.  These would protrude from rocks on the lake bed, and they look like a plant, almost like some sort of seaweed.  However, there is nothing inside of these structures, they are just bubbles in the ice.  All of the structures had some algae attached to the end of them, so there is something biological going on here, but I'm still not quite sure how these are formed.

This is the stream team heading up the east side of the Canada Glacier on the hike back to Lake Hoare.  Lake Fryxell can be seen in the background.
Here we are up on the Canada Glacier.  Mikey is checking out the ice falls coming down from the Asgard Range.  I don't know what he is thinking but if I had to speculate I think it would be something like, "rad".
Here is a view from up on the glacier looking west towards the Nussbaum Riegel, which is the non-snowcapped spine in the middle of the valley
This was an excellent first day of field work.  Everything worked as it was expected, which is always a plus.  The weather was awesome, there was almost no wind which never happens in Taylor Valley.  And most importantly we got to go on a pretty spectacular hike.  Oh yeah and we got some work done too.

Hope all is well back home!  Miss you guys.


  1. I'm so glad you got to go back this year, and that you're blogging so I can dream ... !

    1. I am so glad to be back too! I have to admit, I was a little bummed when I didn't see your comments this year, but I figured you were probably off on your own adventures.