Today began with real Antarctic weather. We were told to dress warmly as it was snowing. This was not good news, as the Polar Plunge could only be done today.
Ming was already dressed – because she sleeps in her polar layers. The ‘swish swish’ had by now become a familiar sound in the cabin in the night as she tossed and turned. Her group was the first group to do the landing on Petermann Island, while we were set for a good two and a half hours of zodiac cruising.
As you’ll see, Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again. Our timing was impeccable.
We were in the zodiac with a French guide, who was absolutely mad keen on krill and plankton. Imagine having an esoteric thirst for knowledge about – let’s face it – something that isn’t exactly a mainstream thing … like tiny little sea creatures, and then being able to be paid to come to the one place on Earth that has heaps of it? She’s a lucky girl.
She brought a plankton bag thing that she trailed behind the zodiac to see if she could pick up anything interesting. Unfortunately, today wasn’t a great day for plankton, but it was interesting to see how she did it.
After a little while our guide took us away from the other zodiacs and said, “I’m going to stop the motor and we’ll have a minute’s silence on the ice.”
At first this minute’s silence, which is meant to enable us to hear the sounds of the ice, was being ruined by 2 gortex-clad swishers who wouldn’t stop moving. FFS! Don’t we have enough of this with Ming? After I politely (but firmly) asked them to stop moving, we got the full effect.
Sometimes, being paid for telling teenagers off turns into a useful life skill in other situations. No one else was going to say anything…
It’s a very liquid world. We could hear the sounds of the sea, ice dripping and the far-off calls of penguins. The wind was blowing lightly, but the main thing I noticed was that the sounds of water were everywhere. We shut our eyes and really concentrated.
Once everyone was on the same page and was totally silent, it’s amazing how much we could hear from so far away. I really enjoyed this experience.
We tootled around looking for penguins, seals and whales and as we did, slowly the day brightened up. Right at the time we turned the zodiac towards the landing site, the day turned bright and sparkling again, just as it had been on our first day.
And this was an absolute gift. This was the most gloriously beautiful of all of our landings.
This video shows it best, but seriously, with the other penguin vids that are coming, watch the funny penguins once and then rewatch to look at the background. This place is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I can’t see how anything could top it.
There are a lot of photos coming. I couldn’t NOT show you the beauty.
When we landed the sun was shining, the snow was sparkling and all was well with the world. I took a cursory look at the bay behind me, but my real impetus was to get to see the penguins. I grabbed my snowshoes, put them on and off I shuffled.
I was halfway to the first fork in the path when I decided to blow my nose. I had a tissue. It was all ok.
Until my nose started to bleed. And bleed.
This was bad. I have one tissue and we’re expected to leave nothing behind us when we leave. How can I allow myself to leave this pristine snow looking like a murder was committed? I had to move fast.
I turned and started back to the landing site, holding my tissue to my nose and pushing past people with a wild look in my eye. The doctor was there – she might have some tissues or something. I had to hurry… this tissue was heroically performing miracles but it was soon going to become sodden and useless.
When I got back, (without having left a drop of blood on the snow, I might add), the doctor made me sit on a plastic barrel and pinch the bridge of my nose for 10 minutes. She was timing me.
I sat, inwardly raging at the waste of time this was taking. This is ridiculous! If I had’ve left my nose alone I’d be at the hilltop rookery where people have seen Adelie penguins by now! Instead, I’m stuck here looking at… at … this.
And then I grew still. And I looked at the vista of the bay and the mountains laid out before me. And I couldn’t believe my luck. I had to stay here and gaze at this view of complete and utter perfection for ten whole minutes???
Best blood nose ever!
Once I was able to set off again, I was snowshoeing along like a champion. The paths the guides had set out were well away from the rookeries, but as you can see, sometimes the penguins crossed over our paths on their ways to the sea and back.
I wonder what they make of us? We must look very similar to them. We all walk in designated paths in a row, just like them.
I spent a lot of time on this landing by myself, just like this little fellow. I wanted to drink it all in and never forget it.
I was pretty happy that day.
There is nothing better than a penguin video. Look at the backdrop… it’s divine.
These were all penguin highways. Our guides would kill us if we left this many pathways behind us!
How am I lucky enough to get to see this in person?
Petermann Island was, for me, a truly epic moment. Antarctica is a spellbindingly beautiful place, but my time simply gazing out over the bay is something that will stay for me forever.
I hope that these photos from my little iPhone have given you an idea of just how special this place is.
As we were torn away from the landing and were on our way back to the ship, a new topic of conversation arose. Seems like the weather has taken a turn for the better. Looks like it might be a great day for a Polar Plunge…
Decisions will have to be made.
Morgan took this shot of Baptiste and ‘improved’ it. I’d definitely go to see this movie!