Explore UAB

UAB in Antarctica
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If you’ve been reading our blogs, you already know that Palmer Station is basically a wonderful slice of icy paradise. So, then what is it like to use your morning off to take a “vacation” from paradise?

As you’ll remember from CJ’s earlier post on the “Station’s Back Steps,” there are lots of exciting recreational options such as skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewing, right here in the paradise of Palmer Station’s backyard. But even paradise can feel restrictive when it is the only thing you experience day in and day out. The remedy for this? Maggie mentioned in her “Palmer’s Day Off” blog recently that one of the options of activities for our morning off is to go boating for recreation, or “rec boating,” as we call it here on station.

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Rec boating can consist of heading out to just cruise around the boating limits – an option which rewarded several people last week with views of a humpback whale! Once the islands open for foot traffic on April 15th, the other rec boating option is to land on one of the near-by islands and explore!

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For our recent rec boating adventure, CJ, Andrew, and I got up early and headed to Hermit Island! Hermit is a small island at just over a mile in length but is one of the tallest islands within the boating limits. Our overall goal of the day was to summit Hermit in order to get a good view of Mount William, the tallest mountain in the chain surrounding station.

Upon reaching the island, we tied off the boat at the designated landing spot and were immediately greeted by the stoically photogenic fur seal on the left and a few of his friends lazily lounging along the shore.

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Our unfamiliarity with the island, coupled with the lack of a marked trail made for a more adventurous vertical trek than the ones I’m use to back home. As a Colorado resident, CJ was elected as our unofficial mountaineer guide as the only one in the group coming from a place with appreciable elevation (aka, she was not a Floridian like Andrew and I).

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As we later learned from more seasoned rec boaters on station, we unintentionally chose the most challenging and inefficient route to the summit of Hermit. We chose a route on the western side of the island while the more efficient route was on the eastern side. Although our trek was a bit treacherous at times, we were rewarded a little over halfway into our journey with a clear view of station from a perspective few have ever had the opportunity to experience.

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Rounding to the top of the island, we were again greeted by wildlife… although this time the wildlife was a parcel of giant petrels rather than a herd of lazy seals.

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We spent several minutes at the top, taking in the beautiful view of the glacier and of all the snow covered granite peaks that dot the Antarctic Peninsula on a clear day. In the end, we did get a clear view of Mount William! Although even if we hadn’t, the experience of hiking in such a remote and beautiful place would have still ranked right at the top of the list of best hikes. Our trip to Hermit goes along with all of the other lessons that Antarctica has taught me in that even just taking a few hours to do something that brings you joy can make for an unforgettable experience. I will always fondly remember my 3-hour vacation of a lifetime at Hermit!

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