Yesterday, we arrived at the field camp designated F6 in the Taylor Valley. We had a fabulous day for flying – clear and calm. After leaving McMurdo Station we flew out over the sea ice of the Ross Sea and had amazing views of Mount Erebus.
On the way in to land at camp, we had outstanding views of the Canada, Commonwealth, Howard, and Crescent Glaciers. The camp looked tiny in relation to the Taylor Valley.
As soon as we landed, the helicopter technician helped us unload our gear and move it well away from the helicopter. The pilot stays in the helicopter and keeps it running, so it is important to watch out where you are walking but also to work efficiently and as a team. It is extremely noisy and windy!
Camp itself is tidy and comfortable. There are solar panels for power and we can get water from Lake Fryxell, which is right out the front door. There is an outhouse and big drums for gray water. Inside the shelter there is a lab, communications equipment, a small kitchen, and an eating area. We sleep outside in mountain tents that are really sturdy and very cozy – they warm up in the sun! There are lots of snacks and coffee and tea.
There are three scientists who have been living at F6. They have been out at the camp for about two months and were happy to have some new visitors. We had dinner together and all became acquainted. Living in a small, remote camp like this requires everyone to work together to be flexible to needs of all the other people.
The three scientists at F6 are the “stream team.” Their work is focused on measuring the discharge of the streams and rivers of the Dry Valleys. Seth Davidson, from the United States Geological Survey keeps his own blog where you can learn all about his work:
Seth was more than happy to show me all about his equipment and the work he is doing. As you will find from his blog, Seth and the team take measurements all over the Dry Valleys.
We ended our day late after hot tea and some games to entertain us. It turns out that there are some very fit scientists among us: Mike from the stream team won the chin up contest with 16! Lee and Seth wowed us by climbing completely underneath and back to the top of the table without ever touching the floor. Susan and Kallin amazed us by picking up a paper lunch bag from the floor while standing on one foot and without using their hands (they use their mouths). Despite many comforts out here, we need to find our own entertainment and no one was bored!
It was another exciting day of adventure, learning, and meeting lots of great people.