Antarctic Fox
The log of Rachel and Kevin Fox's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula in the Summer of 2008-9
Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2
January 1 - Abandoned British Base W, Detaille Island, the Antarctic Peninsula

This is Part 2 of our visit to Base W. If you haven't seen Part 1, you should start there!

Down from the attic and moving to the back of the base we had a chance to photograph the larders, second barrack room (and library), dining area and kitchen, followed by the surveyor's room, the all-important radio room, and the latrine.

Main Hall
Coming down the ladder from the attic we turn left. Going right would take us back toward the front door from which we have come. After turning left down the hall, windows to the front yard continue on the right, while on the left are larders stacked full with food supplies.

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Officers Barracks/Library
Between some of the larders on the left of the hall is a door to another room. Two cots and walls lined with books.

Since only two seem to sleep here we assume the occupants were higher ranking than those in the first barracks.

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Kitchen
Back in the hall, continuing in the same direction the hall ends and an entry way on the left opens into kitchen. On the right a kitchen table, chests full of supplies and cabinets and counter tops. On the right shelfs on the wall with smaller supplies followed by another archway. A new small hall begins toward the back of the room heading off to the right (same direction as we have been traveling down the main hall, we are just facing the opposite direction now). The stove is situated in an alcove near the back by a window (we think - this detail seems a bit fuzzy).

As the two most dedicated photographers in the expedition, we were naturally the laggards when in an environment like this where every artifact tells a story and ghosts of times past dwell in every nook.

(Kevin writing:) Quite suddenly while photographing the kitchen we realized that we were the last ones in the base. Already a quiet and derelict place, the base took on an altogether weightier silence when the others had left. It's one thing to walk through a place with a small group, pointing and photographing the history laid bare, but it's quite an unexpected force that hits you when you're alone in such a place and internalize not only the lifestyle that existed within it half a century ago, but also the utter stillness and heavy silence that envelops the base day-to-day between the exceedingly rare visit.

Base W had been a working Antarctic survey base for three years, but it had been a deserted outpost with virtually no human contact for fifty years, and when that history hits you it's unexpected and potent.

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Radio Room
Heading down the new short hall in the back, there are three doors fairly close together. One is on the right and two on the left. The first one on the left is the Radio Room.

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Latrine/Laundry Room
Heading down the new short hall in the back, there are three doors fairly close together. The only door on the right opens to a laundry room with backdoor to the outside and a side room that is the latrine.

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Suveyor's Room
Heading down the new short hall in the back, there are three doors fairly close together. Skipping the first two, the last one on the left is the Surveyor's room.

(Kevin writing:) Heeding the guide's call, I left to take some exterior shots before we had to head to the Zodiacs.

(Rachel writing:) I was the last to leave Base W. This is somewhat normal for me as I easily get transfixed by the rooms, and items and can't stop photographing. At one point I was nearly the only person in the base. I knew Kevin was at the other end of the building, I could hear his movements, but at the same time I felt very alone, surrounded by the ghosts of the past. So intensely quiet that every breath almost echoed. It was a surreal experience I will never forget. I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked the the labs beyond the kitchen, we both could spend days in that hut documenting it and still likely leave feeling we had missed something. Maybe we'll get to go back someday. Maybe by the time we do, very little will be left for us to find or they will have sterilized the hut into a museum causing most of the ghosts to have fled.

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Heading Back To The Ship

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It's amazing but we actually end our day here as we head out to make some good headway in the evening and overnight as we head back north. It was a much needed evening of rest and yet we were constantly wondering what was in store for us next.

Read the next chapter: Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands


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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