Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it was time for camping on the ice. But not before taking pictures with Robert Swan and the flags we brought. And, yes, it was also my birthday.
Neko Harbor, our landing spot, was cold and windy. Robert Swan’s passion for saving Antarctica was never more evident than at these standing with each expedition team member smiling graciously as they took pictures with sponsor or school flags. He responded enthusiastically to each question during video interviews. He encouraged each of us to help him preserve Antarctica.
After an early dinner, we set out for a camping overnighter in the Southern most location imaginable. We slept under the stars with no tent. I was ready. Seven top layers, six bottom layers, four socks and two sleeping bags would keep me warm. I added a dozen hand warmers to my sleeping bag and two in my shoes for good measure. We dug trenches and built snow walls to protect us from the wind and then slept in groups.
Check out this time lapse video of our overnight stay: https://youtu.be/Hxz5I6O20Cw
During a meditation period, I pulled two chunks of ice from the water and ate them. Ice which had lasted for thousands of years was now calving. One piece, called seasonal “brash” ice, was white and full of air, the other, called glacial ice was blue and dense. During our moment of silence, as was ice melting in my hands, I wondered “is it normal for so much ice to be breaking off if we are not experiencing climate change?”