Dear All, We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Lake Hoare. I went for a little ski on the Howard Glacier in the morning to measure the last ablation stakes. It was a cold and windy morning on the upper part of the glacier. The skiing was not glamorous at all. Just some long terrible traverses with three of us roped up. Coming back to camp there were about 25 people waiting to dig in to a very large turkey. I needed to since there was a large hole in my belly. Holidays are a festive time in the Dry Valleys. Folks tend to stay in the field instead of going back to town, since it much more cozy out here. I have attached a photo of the feast. A few helicopter pilots also stopped by for some awesome food. Christmas will also be a Lake Hoare, but will be probably be a smaller group.
Otherwise life at Lake Hoare is moving right along. A month has gone by since I arrived and I am entering the slower period of my work schedule. I have some smaller projects to work on this month, plus I will be spending a week in McMurdo, catching up on some laundry and much relished showers. After nearly four weeks in the field, my clothes have started to take on a personality all their own. I have nothing clean to put on any more. We get used to seeing each other wear the same clothing day in and day out.
Last week I got to spend the day up at Beacon Valley, which is a place I have yet to visit. It is quite a unique place, mainly because the valley is occupied by 8 million year ice. Some beakers working in the area came up with the age by dated an ash layer which lies above the glacier. We could not see the glacier/ice, because it is covered with a thick mantel of debris. I felt like we were on the moon walking around the valley floor. There were rocks everywhere, so of them serious polished by the wind. I found some really nice ventifacts, keepers for my journey back to the states.
We went to the valley to set up a meteorological station for the worm herders as we call them (they study nemotodes and other crawly, creepy things). They are attempting to transplant some nematodes to the valley to see if they can establish them self. I think there are hoping to prove that the buggers can be blown in via the wind and set up camp. it was quite a challenge set up the station because it was cold and wind. The elevation of valley is about 5000 feet, which is quite a bit higher than our little quaint home at Lake Hoare, which is nearly at sea level. We were hoping to have more of the day to do a hike, but it took us longer to set up the station. Maybe next time. The weather has finally gotten better here and in McMurdo. Folks, who had been waiting nine day to get to and from McMurdo, finally were able to fly. The temperatures at Lake Hoare have soared to around the freezing mark, and more importantly the sun has ventured it way from behind the clouds. It is time to get out the shorts and head to the beach, which by the way we graced for the first time last week. Nice to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, while we tossed the Frisbee around. Our area to play on the beach is a little bit smaller than last year, since there is still quite a bit of snow left over from the winter. Even with my new, heavier Frisbee, errant throws sent folks scampering through the snow. I have attached a picture of us playing on the beach.
The warm weather has also meant that the Lake Hoare moat has started to melt. The moat forms because the sun heats the rock and sediments at the bottom of the lake in the shallow areas. Makes life a little treacherous getting on and off the glacier from the lake. Last year was an exception, since the moat never completely thawed out. I was not expecting to have the moat partially melted out when I came off the glacier last week. Susan and I had the choice of either hauling our sled, which was laden down with equipment all the way back up the glacier, or trudge across two feet of slushy, cold water. Well since I did not want to haul that sled all the way back around. I opted for getting wet feet, and hoping that I would not be completely submerged in the process. Fortunately the only thing I did get was wet feet and since camp was close we did not have to suffer too long.
That is the news so far from Lake Hoare. Take care and have a wonderful holiday season.