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.

Sunset Camping Colors

Sunset Camping Colors - Its 11:14pm when we finish dinner and set out to our camping site. The sunset was casting some interesting shdes of green yellow and blue to begin with. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Claiming Tents

Claiming Tents - Most of us headed out to the ice floe right after dinner to check out the tents (which our guides and set up for us - we could have helped guys, really!) and to take a walk before settling in the sleep on the ice for the night. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Deep Blue Something

Deep Blue Something - The areas of shadow and light were very dramatic during this Antarctic summer night. This is 11:37pm. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Penguino Was Here

Penguino Was Here - To save energy, the penguins will often glide on their bellies, 'swimming' left-right, left-right with their wing/flippers to get where they're going. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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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.

Ice Floe Frisbee

Ice Floe Frisbee - Sara and Brian are avid ultimate Frisbee players (Brian's team won nationals last year). They brought along the Frisbee favor from their wedding to be able to play with in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Spectators Sport?

Spectators Sport? - Ingrid is video taping the Frisbee game going on. Kevin motions to join in. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Fancy Catch

Fancy Catch - Playing Frisbee in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Fly Frisbee Fly

Fly Frisbee Fly - Kevin throwing a Frisbee on an ice floe in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Fortress of Solitude

Fortress of Solitude - Rachel's and my ice tent, with our ship in the background. Taken after midnight, this photo clearly shows about how dark it gets in the Antarctic evening. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Ephemeral Footsteps

Ephemeral Footsteps - The ice here is only a few feet thick and will break up into bergy bits within a few days or weeks. Newly formed last winter, we're the only people to set foot on this ice floe and it will be subsumed again by the sea before anyone else touches it. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Antarctic Beach

Antarctic Beach - Brian playing in the snow. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Fading Pink

Fading Pink - Beautiful colors from the midnight sunset in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Our Two Homes

Our Two Homes - Our boat home with our comfy room on it, and our tent, our home for this night. Amazingly this was also the best night of sleep I got the entire trip!! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Camping In Its Shadow

Camping In Its Shadow - Our camp site at midnight in the shadow of our neighbor glacier. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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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.

Whacha lookin' at?

Whacha lookin' at? - A Weddell seal rests on the ice as we peek over the next edge to a hole in the ice where the seals come to breathe and transit into the freezing water. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Night Sun Bathing

Night Sun Bathing - We walked a little ways from our camp site to an air hole in the ice floe where weddell seals were relaxing. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Hello?!

Hello?! - A weddell seal checking us out. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Navy Seal

Navy Seal - We staked out an air hole in the ice where the Weddells come up for air and to rest on the ice. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo - A weddell seal coming up from under the ice floe through this slushy hole in the ice. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Laaaaaa!!

Laaaaaa!! - A Weddell seal stretching and yawning, but he looks like he is singing opera. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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The Eyes

The Eyes - SOOO CUTE!!! An adorable weddell seal in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Ice World

Ice World - Its 12:25am and yes we are still in the beautiful pinks and blues of sunset. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Secret Lair

Secret Lair - A weddell seal peaking up through a hole in the ice floe. The greener color of the water here is because there is phytoplankton growing here. We see more of this the further south we go. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Happy Weddell

Happy Weddell - A Weddell seal curled around the ice to find just the right spot for a midnight nap. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Fat & Happy

Fat & Happy - A happy wheedle seal sleeping on an ice floe - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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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.

"Are they gone yet?" - A Weddell seal watches as the team heads to our tents for the night. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Penguin and Seal Mentalities

Penguin and Seal Mentalities - On the left is a penguin track through the ice. It traversed the ice on its belly, using its flippers on alternating sides to 'swim' across the ice floe. The penguin knows where its going and it's conserving its energy to get there. The seal, on the other hand, is not an efficient land-traveller. It 'rolls' forward across the ice like an earthworm, and just sort of meanders across the ice, as you can see. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Night Calm in Antarctica

Night Calm in Antarctica - 12:48am and Antarctica is quiet, peaceful and pink. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Ice Floe Hiking

Ice Floe Hiking - Walking back to the edge of the ice floe so we can jump back on the boat and grab our stuff so we can again go back to the ice floe to spend the night in our tents! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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A Room With a View

A Room With a View - Camping is a whole different story when the tent is pitched on a sheet of ice four feet thick floating at about 1 mile per hour over the Antarctic Sea. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Sunset 1am

Sunset 1am - 12:54am in Antarctica and the golden sun is setting. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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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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