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Continuing my food theme... Today we had pancakes for breakfast (not rice and beans) and they were about an inch thick and flavoured with vanilla. I had mine with maple syrup and am feeling very happy with myself!

 

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(Click the images to see them full size)

 

After a few days of staying around the hut, today I got the chance to go out with the botanists into the field and experience collecting. We went to a place called Laguna.

 

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There are several specific sights of interest that the botanists target each day – we had a live-link back to the Museum to do in the morning so chose a site nearby (see the map below - we are staying at Albergue Valle del Silencio and Laguna is due East-South-East from there).

 

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I am going to blog about the specifics of collecting tomorrow but today wanted to focus on the trails cut for us in order to reach the collection sites. Some trails are clear, well worn by the porters ferrying supplies and specimens to and from the camp, others are cut specifically for us and are much less easy to follow.

 

The forest is so dense it is easy to lose ones bearings. Today I tried to keep my orientation between a river and mountain but soon the dense foliage span me around and I felt completely at the mercy of the forest. It is a wonderful feeling to be lost - as long as you’re with someone who isn’t!

 

Because the forest is so dense sound doesn’t travel too far so Alex and Daniel Santa Maria (a botanist from INBIO - The National Institute for Biodiversity in Costa Rica) use calls to locate each other.

 

 

 

Daniel has an amazing knowledge of the local plants and is invaluable to the trip. Here he is having a rest after lunch in the field.

 

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Species of the day today is Conopholis alipna and was collected by Daniel and the flowering plant team (Alex and Neil). It is a parasite that targets the roots of oak trees which are the predominately tree in the surrounding forests.

 

It gets all of it’s nutrients from it’s host and is found at altitudes of between 2,000 and 2,700 metres. It's my species of the day because I think it looks really cool:

 

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Until tomorrow!

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 6 October 2010
Temperature: -15C
Wind Speed: 40 knots
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: 5:30am
Sunset 9:50pm

 

Sundays are our day off at New Zealand’s Scott Base, and, when the weather permits, these are the best days to set off on longer hikes.  There are a series of marked trails throughout the southern tip of Ross Island, one being a hike up to Observation Hill that Diana featured in previous blog, and another is called the Cape Armitage Loop.  Last Sunday, a friend and I walked the 8k trail that took us out in front of Scott Base, along a flagged route over the sea ice to the U.S. McMurdo Base.  It is an open and flat route that affords views of the distant Trans-Antarctic mountain range, and White and Black Islands, and follows along the back side of Observation Hill.

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Trail System on the Southern Tip of Ross Island © AHT/Cricket


The trail is named after Albert Borlase Armitage, who joined R.F. Scott’s 1901-1904 Discovery expedition from the merchant service and served as Scott’s navigator and second-in-command.  Among other accomplishments, Armitage successfully led the Western Journey, becoming the first to ascend the Ferrar Glacier and reach the summit of Antarctica.  This was quite a feat considering that his party consisted of seaman who had little cold weather and no climbing experience.  One author said that before this journey, the highest any man from that party had ever climbed was up the mast of a ship.  Though likely an exaggeration, it serves as a helpful reminder that most of Scott’s men had never before experienced anything like the Antarctic terrain and climate.

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View of McMurdo from Cape Armitage Loop © AHT/Cricket

 

Armitage’s Western Journey was quite difficult and the party suffered fierce blizzards, altitude sickness, and one even a heart attack.  Surprisingly, all survived and returned safely to the Discovery base camp.  Knowing a little of the history, I smile at the irony of the Cape Armitage Loop name, for the trek is a tranquil and relatively easy route that, as advertised, offers solitude and escape.  And, it conveniently ends near the coffee shop at McMurdo where you can sit back and have an easy rest of the day with a big mug of hot chocolate.
 

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Posted by Diana

 

Date: September 29, 2010
Temperature: -25 Degrees Celsius
Wind Speed: +30 knots
Temp with wind chill: -35 degrees Celsius
Sunrise 0647
Sunset 2045

 

The weather at New Zealand's Scott Base in Antarctica is becoming warmer and the sun is up for a very long time now. This affords us the opportunity to take advantage of the Ross Island Trail System. Several trails around the base are used for recreation. I decided to head up Observation Hill (Ob Hill) after dinner one evening. Ob Hill has an elevation of 250 meters and has a steep rugged track which has lovely views of the Wind farm, McMurdo (US Base), Scott Base (NZ Base) and beyond.

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The trail markers © AHT/Diana


Observation Hill was named because it was used as an observation point from which to spot the return parties from the pole. At the top of Observation Hill is a cross, erected in 1913 by the remaining members of the British National Antarctic Expedition, in memory of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s party which perished on the return journey from the South Pole in March of 1912.

 

The cross bears the following inscription (including an excerpt from Tennyson’s text Ulysses chosen by Apsley Cherry-Garrard):


IN MEMORIAM
CAPT. R.F. SCOTT.R.N
DR E.A. WILSON CAPT L.E.G.OATES INS. DRGS LT. H.R. BOWERS R.L.M.
PETTY OFFICER E.EVANS R.N.

 

WHO DIED ON THE
RETURN FROM THE
SOUTH POLE MARCH

1912


TO STRIVE, TO SEEK
TO FIND
AND NOT TO
YIELD

 

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When I saw the names carved into the cross I thought of the hours that must have been spent waiting, looking into the distance, for Scott’s party that never returned.