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Published: April 13th 2022
Monday. Went ashore on Wiencke Island, Palmer Archipelago. We hiked over a hill, passed by a strangely sharp edged geometric rock on top of normal looking weathered rocky outcropping, and arrived at the blue Damoy Hut, The hut, established in 1975, supported the airstrip up on the glacier as a summer transit station. It was opened by our guides so that we could have a look inside. It started snowing heavily and back aboard the visibility was terrible making it doubtful that we would be able to camp. At 2:00 we watched the camping orientation video on our cabin television.
By the time we reached Kerr Point, Nansen Island, Gerlach Strait, where we were to camp, It had cleared, there was little wind and it was warm by Antarctic standards. We had lucked out. Nathan and I set up our tent with help from one of the staff. I discovered that one of the water bottles we had brought leaked into the waterproof bag, soaking the spare socks and caps, which fortunately it turned out we didn’t need.
The site was a flat stretch of snow-covered beach. At one end was a colony of gentoo
penguins on the rocks and across a small bay was a glacier which would occasionally make a loud cracking noise as ice broke. The ship floated off shore with a mountainous background and as the sky darkened it took on a festive air with the onboard lights reflecting on the water. It eventually sailed behind a huge rock out of sight, creating the feeling that we campers were alone in the beautiful snowy wilderness. The illusion was shattered when a smaller ship appeared in the distance and briefly shined a very bright yellow light in our direction.
We all started climbing up the hill behind the tents through the snow with the idea of gathering at a high point where our guide would play a recorded poem, a favorite of hers and appropriate to the moment. Neither Nathan nor I nor many of the other older passengers made it that high since we kept sinking into the snow with every step. Without the hiking poles I don’t think I could have been able to keep my balance. But it was truly glorious to stand in the snow above the campground and take in the bay, islands and
mountains which we could still see dimly through the blue light of night. Overhead were bright stars peeking through the openings in the clouds. We could occasionally hear the almost braying calls of the nearby gentoo penguin colony. It was warm with us all bundled up in the tent. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was hearing the loudest and longest cracking of the glacier.
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