Shelley, congratulations on your very impressive prospectus. Best wishes for your own work on the freshwater environs.
50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
Now, I don’t like to complain ... but this past week has been more difficult than most. My energy has waned, my knees are achy and it’s been quite quite cold. My pack’s waist belt snapped and a top strap has gone as well. The deterioration of my gear, fatigue and an insatiable appetite is helping me adjust to the prospect of returning home in just over 2 weeks.
Still, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to assist Paleolimnologist Dr Krystyna Saunders sample and core some of the island’s tarns as she seeks to analyse layers of lake sediment to reconstruct historic changes in subantarctic weather. Krystyna has instilled in me a new appreciation for the island’s topography and geology and the stories diatoms (algae) can tell about changes in climate; she has also introduced me to the wonders of Porridge with Tahini. Excited to assist coring a tarn, this trip presented some unexpected challenges:
Day 1: We left on high tide making the walk difficult as we tried to avoid wet boots at this early stage. We were held up by a bull Sea Lion on a narrow track and I was accosted by another while attempting to pee. Then it started to hail. Arriving at NW Bay hut we lightened our load that included a boat and 20 kilograms of coring gear and spent the afternoon sampling some nearby tarns.
Day 2: We revisited the Mt Paris/Yvon saddle, my favourite place on the island. The climb was harder this time and more hail didn’t help. Still, we were rewarded for our effort at the top where we spent a few hours taking in the beautiful vistas as we worked.
Day 3: Coring day. It was fun to be in the boat but it rained and without wind our wet weather gear eventually transitioned to function as a wet suit. After coring we headed back to base. With sodden boots we gave up trying to avoid puddles and streams opting to take the most direct routes through water. We arrived back at base soaking wet.
I always like trips like this, I think hardship is good for wellbeing. Such hardships remind me of my limitations and restore an appreciation for the simple pleasures of hot showers and warm meals. This time though it has taken a few days at base to recuperate. After this short rest, and another tourist ship visit, I am now preparing for my next field trip as we tie up the odds and ends of fieldwork.