Yesterday I said goodbye to the Nimrod hut and natural beauty of Cape Royds as we packed up camp for the season and moved to Cape Evans for a brief time before Scott base. The weather for the move was once again fine with little winds (A blessing when pulling down tents etc). Amongst the fast paced activity in every direction I managed to take a moment to myself to visit the hut one last time and look back on my time here at Royds, as I will likely never have the opportunity to travel here again. A combination of subtleties like the worn socks hanging from the hut rafters to more prominent features like the penguin rookery close by will be sincerely missed. Royds is a phenomenal place stooped in page turning history and natural beauty.
(moving camp with the assistance of some heavy machinery)
The road to Cape Evans was paved in two displays of magnificent wildlife. First of all driving along in the hagglund a flock of a dozen or so snow petrels flew alongside us darting through the air with the agility of a bat and the attractiveness of a dove. Secondly as we passed the Barne glacier we came across a group of near 50 seals all sunbathing together in the same spot, both good omens according to some of the more superstitious members of our team. Upon arrival at Evans we spent the most part of the afternoon and evening setting up our camp. To celebrate the day’s success we had our dinner outside under the relative warmth of the evening sun.
(eating out under the sun)
Today the weather is unbelievable. The temperature is sitting above 2degrees with no wind. However in direct sunlight it feels a lot hotter, hot enough to wear a singlet for part of the day! We continued to establish camp today for the team to inhabit over the next 6 weeks. At the end of the day (which happens to mark 99 years since the Norwegian Amundsen first attained the South Pole) we are doing some exploring ourselves. We took the quad bike out over the ice to a nearby iceberg that has been stranded. Equipped with crampons and an ice axe I climbed the iceberg and had another unique Antarctic experience. A fresh glacial pool sat at the top with crisp tasting water that accompanied panoramic views of Erebus the Ross island peninsula and other stranded bergs.
Although my experience cannot compare I can associate with the words of Ernest Shackleton as he departed Cape Royds on the Nimrod, ‘We all turned to give three cheers and to take a last look at the place where we had spent so many happy days. The hut was not exactly a palatial residence…but, on the other hand it had been our home for a year that would always live in our memories…we watched the little hut fade away in the distance with feelings almost of sadness, and there were few men aboard who did not cherish a hope that someday they would once more live strenuous days under the shadow of mighty Erebus’.