Day 6 – Camping in Antarctica

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December 21st, 2019

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After dinner, it was time to go camping. Erin, Brandon, Me, and a Zodiac of others set sail for Kerr Point. The staff offered to setup our camp, even setup a tent if we wanted, but we didn’t see the fun in that.

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To construct a proper Antarctive camp site, you first must dig out a mummy shaped ditch in the snow. This lets the wind roll over you, and it’s easier to cut igloo brick blocks out and stack them up on either side to cut the word down. Next, its time to construct the mummy bag, which is a roll up air pad, inside one down bag, inside another down bag, all covered by a wind and rain layer. As I was stuffing the sacks together, a gust of wind picked up and blew my warmth for the night from my hands.

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The shelf of snow and ice on Antarctica has a small crust, but is mostly soft. So walking slowly you can stay on top of it, but trying to sprint across it chasing after your mummy sack ends up a complete sinking mess. There was a group of seals watching me, and I wish they would have videod what must have looked hilarious. Step, Run, Fall, Step Run, Fall, all the while watching my bag blow out to the bay of Antarctic water. One of our guides, Rusty, happened to be taking a quiet moment on that same bay, and gracefully waded out past his knees and grabbed my bed. Without flinching, he looked back to me and asked ‘How quick do you think we can dry this?’. After watching me sweat, he reassured me that they bring extra bags and grabbed another kit out for me.

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My second attempt at making camp was successful, and I left my backpack as a weight while we explored the space. Camp was rustic since the Antarctic Treaty stresses not leaving any trace on the shelf. We had an igloo wall for an open air bathroom, if needed, but no food or anything else. There were seals and penguins walking amongst us, not really minding or caring that we were there. With the time that we had, we piled up snow into a huge pile and fashioned a Christmas Tree out of it, complete with LED lights the staff had brought.

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After having a nice group moment, it was time to try and sleep. It was the longest day of the year, and at that latitude that meant that, even at 2am, there was plenty of sun. I nestled into my bag and got comfortable, and without too much effort I fell asleep. That is until the March of the Penguins.

Between my bag and Brandon and Erin’s bag, a group of three penguins slid and waddled their way up to us and past us, waking us up. Again, they acted as though we weren’t even there. I tried to take as many videos and pictures while taking it all in, realizing this moment is once in a lifetime. Eventually the passed on, and I fell back asleep.

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At 4am, we were woken up and told to pack up camp. Back on the Zodiacs in time for the Plancius to motor us to our next location and to feed us breakfast. Just another day in Antarctica!.

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