This week at Lake Hoare has been dominated by weather. Three of the days this week were no fly days, meaning the helicopters were grounded because of poor visibility. Usually the weather is bad in McMurdo, or town as it is called here, while at Lake Hoare we bask in sunshine. McMurdo is located on Ross Island, which is on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. The town is fully exposed to storms coming from the North or strong katabatic winds coming off the ice shelf. Since Lake Hoare is situated in the Transantarctic mountains, we are shelter from the full effect of storms. The storm we had in McMurdo last week, which dumped 20 inches of snow, only littered the ground with a fraction of an inch here at Camp. Even the snow that does fall on the soil here usually melts or sublimates within the first hour or so.
Because of the inclement weather, Susan, my field assistant from Colorado, and I are a bit behind on our work. Even with the bad weather we were able to get some work done, since the helicopter was stuck here at Lake Hoare for two days. Nothing like having your own personal taxi service to ferry us around the dry valleys. We have been measuring bamboo stakes on 5 glaciers and doing some maintenance on 11 meteorological stations. Working on the met stations can get a bit cold, since we are typically standing around for a few hours. Fortunately, we have hand warmers, which when open, keep our hands nice and warm for several hours. Working on the stations has other risk besides freezing the hands. My assistant tends to drop tools from the above when replacing the sensors. I have had a few tools bounce off my head already. Maybe I should start wearing a hard hat.
Besides the work, life at Lake Hoare is bustling with activity. Several days this week because of the bad weather we had a full house of 15 people. This little place gets crowded when there are 15 people milling about the main hut, each trying to either get on Internet or rest their weary bones. With this many mouths to feed and the lack of helicopter service, the food was disappearing fast here. Fortunately we got resupplied last night with essentials, including some freshies. With this many people, Rae, the camp manager, who was also here last year, has her hands full. The logistics of keeping up with this many people multiply considerably. Besides cooking, she has to keep up with the rocket toilets, which occasionally needs to be ignited to burn the human waste, keep tabs on the power generated from either the solar panels or diesel generator, retro all of the used stuff, make the helicopter schedule for the week and ensure that everything is on stock. She breathes a sigh of relief when the camp dwindles back down to smaller numbers.
I got my favorite tent spot back from last year up on Glacier Heights. It is always nice to wake up with the view of Canada Glacier outside my tent. I have fully adjusted to sleeping out in my tent with constant daylight. The temperature in my tent is more bearable, now that the sun is higher in the sky at night. Soon, I will be sleeping only in my fleece liner with the doors open. I have attached a picture showing the camp. It shows most of the buildings of the camp and also are tents. Hope everything is going well.
Drop me a line when you get a chance.