The weather was a bit better today, and our helicopter was cleared to cross McMurdo Sound to mainland Antarctica. We were headed for Lake Hoare, an established field camp that serves as a hub for scientists doing research in the Dry Valleys.
The Sound is where McMurdo’s annual sea ice runway is located from the start of the summer season till early December before the ice breaks up. By now the ice is extremely fractured in places, creating stretches of beautiful textures.
The path to Lake Hoare got socked in by fog by the time we reached the coast, so the pilot diverted to Marble Point till it cleared. Marble Point is a small outpost chiefly used as a helicopter refueling station. Soon a second helicopter of scientists arrived to wait out the weather.
The setting is rather bleak and desolate but the couple who run the station are extremely hospitable and baked up a batch of cookies for their stranded visitors. They also offered me some nice rusted artifacts for use in my project. I’ll be posting pictures of these collected items towards the end of my trip.
The tri-wall box seen above is a ubiquitous sight at camps and stations. It contains sorted waste to be transported back to McMurdo for processing at summer’s end.
The fog lifted and we headed back to the helos. A nearby castaway (note shark fin — nice touch) watched on forlornly as we lifted off the heli-pad.
Next stop: Lake Hoare!