Yesterday did not go at all how I expected it to. But sometimes that can be a very good thing.
We were meant to drive the Piston Bully out to Cape Evans, do a little bit of work, and then go tour Scott’s historic hut there. Scott’s Hut at Cape Evan’s is protected under the Antarctic Treaty System as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) number 155. The hut has a management plan that limits the number of visitors, and requires that all visitors have a permit to enter. Such a system limits the foot traffic, and possibility for damage to the hut. It actually is a great system, after 100 years and several preservation efforts the hut still looks great. I wish I had pictures to show you but another group beat us to getting the key and permit for the day. We did our work a safe distance away from the hut. Ah well maybe another day I will get to go inside one of the historic huts.
Because we didn’t have the hut permit, but had budgeted time to go to the hut, we had lots of time to explore the sites along the road between McMurdo Station and Cape Evans. We stopped and visited with a Weddell seal who was hauled out along the road (and another one who was hanging out at Cape Evan). Then we got the best surprise…..
When we were nearly back to McMurdo Station, we saw an Adelie penguin on the side of the road and two more in the distance. It was fantastic. Adelies have so much personality and spunk! Unfortunately for these guys, they were headed in the wrong direction. They were on a misguided march away from the ocean towards the dry valleys. No one knows why seals and penguins make this determined march away from the sea. In years past some scientists have tried to intercept the animals and turn them around to face the ocean with no luck. Because there is no food or accessible water in the Dry Valleys, these penguins will likely end up mummified (see http://www.mcmlter.org/photoDB/mummified_penguin1.jpg for an example photo). I hope that they come to their senses and turn around before it is too late.
Also a big “YAY” for the piston bully. We made it to Cape Evans and back without having to be rescued. My faith is piston bullies is slowly increasing. Not sure what the next few days hold for me. The weather is GORGEOUS. It is 37F and clear, so we shall see what happens.