Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today's journey.....Sea and ponds

Today Luigi and I visited 3 different sites in the Taylor Valley---for his gathering of water samples for DNA research and for my new vistas. For me it was an okay day (not stellar) --for Luigi--a comedy of errors. I don't have pictures of his numerous unfortunate episodes but all I can say is that it is good that he has a sense of humor.

Our first stop was at New Harbor Point--the mouth of the Taylor Glacier Valley. Here the valley meets the frozen Ross Sea. There was enough open (non-frozen) area for Luigi to collect wet sediment  from the sea floor. I explored the shore looking for drawing sites, watched Mt Erebus emerge from the clouds and also saw the first living thing besides humans in a couple of weeks--2 skuas. As we were walking back along the shore Luigi sunk into the beach sand/mud up to his ankles and later to his waist. This was not a whole lot of fun in a cold place with no water to wash off and limited clothes. As we were near a closed but accessible field station he was able to clean up a bit and hang his mud-covered wind pants to dry (reduced to wearing heavy long johns.) And in addition,  just as he was walking back ( I was further back--doing a quick sketch) the helicopter arrived and scattered our unsecured belongings all over the beach. Fortunately nothing was damaged-and Luigi scrambled and got it all together.

From there we flew to the pond we now fondly call "Luigi's Choice Pond", a life-filled very salty puddle of water with an algae green center and very red edges--all living, what is called,  mat--bacteria and microbes making a very fungi-like substance (pictured here.) It was miserably cold there--the wind was blowing, there was nowhere to get out of the wind and I was glad we didn't stay long--I  did a silly drawing of the helicopter (and landscape) that landed for this leg of our journey. Poor Liuigi had to wade into this pond to gather his water samples, freezing his exposed wet hands.

Our final stop was a larger series of connected ponds, near Lake Frixell and in view of the long edge of the Commonwealth Glacier. Here we found a less exposed spot (not so windy). I managed to paint a small watercolor while Luigi gathered his last samples. This time the sediment at the bottom of the pond decided to pull him in--like quicksand. He had to struggle to get his hip waders and self out of the pond. We were both glad to return to camp! and drink hot chocolate!

1 comment:

  1. I'd have put some schnapps in that hot coco myself! hehe