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  • Carol Mckee

Top of the Bottom of the World

As with most of this trip, we had two excursions on our last day before we went back across the Drake. They were so different that I am going to break this into two posts.

We woke to a drenching rain. An absolute downpour. I have to confess that upon looking out the window and seeing how hard it was raining, my heart sank, and I contemplated staying on the ship.

But this was our only chance to set foot on Continental Antarctica. All stops so far has been on islands just off the continent. Other opportunities to step foot on the continent have been choked with ice so that we could not land so this was it to set foot on the continent and so we prepared and pulled on our gear. We were soaked within minutes of stepping onto the zodiac, and as we headed from the ship across the angry waters the sea gods rewarded us with a group of feeding, humpback whales, dead ahead of our zodiac.

The whales were coming in and out of the water clearly having found a cluster of krill they were in a feeding, frenzy. Up and down they went, in and out of ball of krill, even coming up open mouth first once! we saw tails, we saw humps and I counted at least four whales all in the same small area going in an out of the water right i. front of us. We watched a good 15 to 20 minutes while the best will watching of the entire trip took place right before eyes. And even though it was pouring rain, it was well worth it.

By the time we got onto land, the rain had changed over to snow. We landed on a rocky outcropping, and then had to climb up a hill to get to the place where they had the Antarctica flag. the backdrop was a lovely scene across the bay, but it wad obscured by the weather.

Climbing back down was a little bit of a challenge. I was pretty glad that I grew up in a snowy place, and knew how to walk down the hill and a big deep snow. We came back soaking wet and knew that we were scheduled to be the first group out in the afternoon. So we took our parkas back to the cabin and cranked up the heat to try and dry them out as much as possible while we had lunch.

Our Parkers were so wet that when we hung them up water was running off the bottom I had some doubt about going back out on their next excursion couple hours later, because I knew that the gear would not dry in time. Wet parkas sounded a bit, uh, unappealing to say the least.

But we did our best to dry them out by hanging them in our room instead in the mud room where we had a locker for our gear. And while they were not very dry for our next excursion, we put them on and headed out anyway! And we were so glad that we did!

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