I awoke Tuesday morning at 0430 (4:30 am) at my ‘campsite’ over looking Hero Inlet. It is a short walk from the station to the Hero Inn (or HI for short) where I have stashed a bivy sack (one person tent) with a down sleeping bag and thick foam pad inside. The view from my ‘room at the Inn’ is always stunning but this morning the view warmed my slightly chilled body. Off to the southeast, a pink glow was snuggling up and around the distant peninsular mountains. For the next two hours I drifted around in thought watching the color and light show intensify in hue and scope, listening to the water lapping below, the plaintive cries of gulls and joyful barking of playing fur seals. What a way to start the day eh?! Looks like it’s going to be a bright sunshiny day!
Well, maybe not. Shortly after our 0800 meeting, the blue skies and bright sunshine gave way to overcast shades of gray. At least the winds were calm and our project was able to get out and go diving. Some sponges for Kevin were collected and Anne’s substrates over in Kristie Cove were inspected.
The sun and cloud-free sky returned in the early afternoon. Anne and I decided a road trip was necessary after we dealt with the collections. Fellow hikers included Chuck and Hla plus my dear friends (and former bosses from my krill days) Robin Ross and Langdon Quetin. At 1600 we boated over to Norsel Point.
In a previous entry (KaBOOM! The birth of an island) I described that Norsel Point could now be referred to as Norsel Island. Active glacier calving the last few years eroded a portion of glacier that had been contiguous with the glacier behind station and that covers Anvers Island. Just recently the last sliver of the remaining glacier gave way and like cutting an umbilical cord, an island was brought to life. I was anxious to see how the terrain on Norsel had been altered by this major event.
We tied off the zodiac to some rocks and scrambled up a short cliff to main real estate of Norsel. The moss beds and sentry fur seals were as I recalled. The fur seals did not mind us walking through their green neighborhood to reach Skua Lake. Hmm, what had been the large lake at the base of the glacier was now a pond. The flocks of bathing, battling, bombardiering skuas that once made hiking around the lake an adventure in itself were fewer in number. A large crater of coarse sediment indicated the lake’s original footprint diminished in size as its water source, the glacier, had dissolved away. So much for that lakefront summer house to build. I guess, the remnant of the glacier walling the back of the lake, will eventually erode away too.
Hiking up the south ridge rising above the lake allows views Palmer Station and the Peninsula in the distance. We climbed the rocks and skated across a small snow field to the north ridge for the spectacular Loudwater Cove view and vistas of northerly islands and Cape Monaco the south-western end of Anvers Island. Anne’s journal includes words and images of Loudwater Cove- so named because of the frequent booming sounds of glacier movement and calving. The ridge has been a popular spot for picnics. Years ago Robin and I enjoyed a sunny afternoon outing with other station folks, spending much of it on a large flat party rock with commanding views of the area and the cove. I wish we had had more time this afternoon to find that rock again and sit and savor the scenery and the company.
Robin and Langdon had not been to Norsel since it became an island either. We were
intent to see the cut in the glacier so rather than lingering we hiked to the back of Loudwater – err - Cove. Yes, like the term Point, the term Cove of Loudwater should be updated too I suppose. Where there had been a craggy wall of ever calving ice at the back of Loudwater there is now a channel of icy water. Standing at waters edge one could follow that channel by eye south toward Palmer and see Bonaparte Pointe. Superimposing what this looked like just 10 years ago, I had a Superman xray vision moment – being able to see through a solid substance.
I am struck by the realization that “glacial speed” can be visualized in one’s lifetime. In 10 years Loudwater Cove and Norsel Point have undergone dramatic changes. Those same years put many miles of distance between my friends Robin and Langdon, in California and me in Alabama. Physically we too each have changed (just a bit I am now as tall as Robin). It may be said that time leaves nothing untouched, unchanged by its passage. My icy neighborhood certainly attests to that. Friendship, however transcends influences of time and distance. Sharing this outing with Robin and Langdon was like a step back in time - enjoying the timelessness of our friendship.
After two hours of exploring the old and new of Norsel and Loudwater, we headed back to station. It seemed only fitting that Wendy had prepared a huge turkey dinner with all the fixings. Just like Thanksgiving! From sunrise to sunset this day had been a memorable one it its own right as well as a trip down memory lane. Robin and Langdon will leave the station in just a few days and I am so thankful that we had the short time that we did to renew, revisit, and celebrate our friendship.