Antarctic Fox
The log of Rachel and Kevin Fox's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula in the Summer of 2008-9
Day 5: Ice Camping
December 30 - Just North of The Gullet, the Antarctic Peninsula

It had been a long day and we actually didn't even finish dinner until about 11pm. So it was already close to midnight when we set out onto the ice floe to look around at our campsite for the night and explore a bit. Tim and Rob had noticed a air hole with some lounging weddell seals near the center of the ice floe so some of us decided to hike out and visit them.

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We arrived at the ice floe with the first zodiac, claimed our tent and then headed over to the Frisbee game that had begun near Sara and Brian's tent. Both Sara and Brian are incredible ultimate Frisbee players (Brian's team won nationals this year), and they had custom frisbee favors at their wedding about 6 months ago so it was a needed thing to have a small game on the ice with one of their wedding frisbees. Understandably there was a lot less running involved in this game.

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Once everyone was on the ice we hiked out to the ice floe to visit the weddell seals up close and personal. At this point it was past midnight and we were still enjoying the beautiful pink, blues and yellows of the extended Antarctic sunsets. The sun would not acutally set tonight. Just dip close to the horizon for a few hours and then come right back up. It was an amazing experience that continued to screw with our internal sense of day and night.

The seals were a few hundred yards from our campsite. There, a large glacial iceberg had grounded itself on the sea bed, while still breaking the surface of the water. When this happens and the sea ice freezes around it, the tidal action causes holes to form in the ice as the sea ice grinds up and down with the tide against the stationary grounded berg. The seals use the resulting fissures between the ice to breathe and to climb out, rest and play.

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After an amazing visit with the adorable seals we headed back to the boat at about 1 am to grab our pillows, eye masks and bundled up night clothes so that we could settle down for the 'night' in our tents. It was unusual enough to sleep on a tent pitched on solid ice, but it was quite another to know that the ice was only a few feet thick, floating above hundreds of feet of antarctic water. Rob told us about the unqiue musical noises made by weddell seals calling to each other in the water that can sometimes be heard through the ice, so we all settled into slumber with our ears to the ground, eager for what we might hear.

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Read the next chapter: Day 6: Flamingos on Ice


Table of Contents:

Introduction: Telling the Story posted Jan 10, 2009

Day 0: Positioning posted Jan 12, 2009

Leaving, on a jet plane posted Jan 12, 2009

Day 1: The Herc posted Jan 15, 2009

Day 1: Penguino posted Jan 16, 2009

Day 2: Chicken posted Jan 17, 2009

Day 2: Leopard posted Jan 19, 2009

Day 2: Snow Day posted Jan 22, 2009

Day 2: Shipwreck posted Jan 26, 2009

Day 2: Totally Tabular posted Jan 27, 2009

Day 3: Gentoo Cute posted Jan 29, 2009

Day 3: Lichen Shag Glacier posted Feb 3, 2009

Day 3: Palmer Station Visit posted Feb 9, 2009

Day 4: Icy Penguins posted Feb 11, 2009

Day 4: Adelie Awesome posted Feb 15, 2009

Day 4: Leopard Seal Attack posted Feb 17, 2009

Day 4: Kayak posted Feb 19, 2009

Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit posted Feb 23, 2009

Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset posted Feb 25, 2009

Day 5: Antarctic Circle posted Feb 27, 2009

Day 5: Polar Plunge posted Mar 5, 2009

Day 5: Mouth of The Gullet posted Mar 13, 2009

» Day 5: Ice Camping posted Mar 18, 2009

Day 6: Flamingos on Ice posted Mar 20, 2009

Day 6: Mountain Climbing posted Mar 24, 2009

Day 6: Ice Textures posted Mar 26, 2009

Day 6: Antarctic New Years posted Apr 2, 2009

Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker posted Apr 9, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 1 posted Apr 17, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2 posted Apr 21, 2009

Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands posted Apr 23, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 1 posted May 5, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 2 posted May 11, 2009

Day 9: Port Lockroy - Base A posted May 20, 2009

Bonus Chapter: Baby Penguins! posted May 21, 2009

Day 9: Antarctic Humpback Whales posted June 3, 2009

Day 9: Dallmann Butt Sliding posted June 11, 2009

Day 10: Birthday Whales posted June 23, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 1: The Birds posted July 15, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 2: Elephant Seals posted July 22, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon posted Dec 11, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 2: The Martian Chronicles of Oz posted Dec 15, 2009

Day 11: Emperor Penguins posted Jan 8, 2010

Day 12: Black and White and Pink All Over posted Aug 4, 2011

More chapters posted every few days...



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