In my last post I wrote about the visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier near el Calafaté. Today Jane Rosevelt sent me an article she saw in the Oregonian from Portland, OR. If you remember I wished that we had been there to see a giant calving of the glacier. Here is the news from today. It happened yesterday, 3/
Tourists in southern Argentina had the opportunity to witness a breathtaking natural phenomenon when huge chunks of the Perito Moreno Glacier broke off in front of them.
The pieces of ice crashed into Lake Argentina on Thursday, prompting cheers from onlookers at Los Glaciares National Park.
The massive natural monument in the province of Santa Cruz is approximately 97 square miles (250 kilometers), and its walls tower about 70 meters (yards) over water level.
Periodically the glacier advances over the lake and then breaks off.
The leading edge of the Perito Moreno glacier collapse, sending several tons of ice crashing down into the sea in Argentina
The glacier had last ruptured in March 2012.
Here is the photo from the Oregonian.
Photo taken from the Oregonian. This photo is copyrighted by the Associated Press.
And I found a video online this morning.
We were standing near that spot on January 31, 2016.
This is the last post from my absolutely astounding trip. The last 5 days are included in this one post so I hope I remembered most of it. I also added information and many, many photos (taken by me, the professional photographer on the ship, and my friends) to the previous posts.. For those of you who have been receiving my posts when I was on the trip, you can now go beck to the beginning and see it all. You will have to scroll down to January 13th to see everything and (until I figure out how to fix it) will have to see it in reverse chronological order. I even added a few videos so it will be best to view with good wifi. Feel free to just look at photos and videos. This blog contains a lot explanations of where we went and what we saw.
We were picked up from our hotel in El Calafaté at about 8:00. Our driver through the Argentina portion of our trip treated double lines as a suggestion. Jean and I were in the front seats and held our breath as we crossed the double line very close to other vehicles. In addition, some of the roads were … well just look at this very short clip to view the roads.
When we reached the border crossing between Argentina and Chile we had to wait in line. We had to stand in line for over 90 before we got our passports stamped to leave the country.
Photo taken by Joni Cady.
We were very glad to not be in the line of people trying to enter Argentina that day.
This sign was posted that was in Spanish and English. It said, “We have no water and cleaning services so no bathrooms. Sorry for the inconvenience.” But they did sell cigarettes.
Entering Chile was much so much more efficient. It was hard to believe. After getting our passports stamped we were transferred to another driver in a much more comfortable van who drove us the rest of the way.
As we arrived at Hotel las Torres Patagonia, we were greeted by a group of habaneros waving flags and riding around our van. What a treat.
After checking into our rooms, we had lunch and went to a meeting about the possible adventures to take for the next two days. Then Pat and I took a walk around the grounds. We saw a fox walking behind the trees. Later, at dinner, we saw the fox again. This time Aldo, our waiter, took a couple of us outside to get a closer view. He called the fox to him and that was when we realized that he was actually giving the fox treats – not a good idea for the fox who has to spend the winter here without the treats.
Aldo asked if anybody was celebrating a birthday. We told him that it had been Joni’s so he took a napkin and made her a flower. Aldo was so delightful and the dinner was delicious. I don’t usually take photos of food, but the presentation was worth the photos.
While we were eating breakfast we saw the hotel horses going across the field. This photo only shows some of them.
Some of our group did ½ day trips today. John, Andy, Joni, Pat, Valerie, Sylvia and Rita decided to take the “Full Paine” Adventure.
Photo provided by Andy Golay.
Photo provided by Andy Golay
Jane and I decided to do the 18 km hike (Las Torres Sendero del Ascencio. We wanted to walk instead of being in a van and then on a boat for 3 hours. We walked for a while and then crossed some bridges. They only allowed one person at a time on this one.
There were only 5 of us in our group and we actually had 2 guides (Javier and Inger). We saw other groups with more than 10 people and one guide. The first part of the hike had undulating hills but was mostly up hill.
The views were beautiful.
This flower is called “Fire Bush” and is the flower of Patagonia.
Hiking uphill got me very warm and I had so I had to take off my jacket and the bottom portion of my pants. There was not time to remove them so I rolled them into my socks.
There were great views of the valleys.
They used horses to bring up the supplies to the Refugio, which was 5 km into the hike.
This is a wooden sign showing the trail. Notice the altitude at the end.
When we arrived at the Refugio, there were many people around the area. They camp out here in tents. We took a short break, ate a snack and used the baños, which had a long waiting line to use and was not too clean. Jane noticed the sign that offered the horse rides. Andy and Rita will do this hike tomorrow but they will ride the horses for the first 5 km. They were not available for people today.
We then started through the lenga forest, which was undulating for a while. We were told that the water above the Refugio could be drunk right out of the stream so Jane and I both filled our water bottles. I can’t remember drinking straight out of a stream in the last 40 years.
Some of the bridges had more spaces between the slats. We had to be careful on this one.
We kept walking up, and up, and up. Javier was pointing out the trail for us.
Eventually I reached the part of the hike that was really uphill. Younger people would stop and ask me how old I was and tell me that I was amazing. I met one man who was turning 70 and as determined as I was to get to the top. He said he had to make it this year. Javier would wait for me along the way and kept asking me if I was going to be okay. He was worried that I would get too tired and not be able to get back down. I knew that if I got to the top, going down would be much easier. I discovered that I could climb up the rocks with much less pressure on my lung capacity than when I walk uphill. It was almost all leg power and go very slowly.
Here are some photos of the rocky trail.
I was pretty tired, but I kept on going.
When I reached the top, Jane was still there. Javier filled my water bottle with the glacier water from the pond. It was so delicious. Somebody came up to Jane and I and wanted to take our picture – must be the grey hair.
The rock face across from the pond looked like it was streaked with white lines. Then I discovered that all of the lines were actually lines of water running down the rocks.
Then some people took photos of me with my camera.
I loved being up there, looking at the towers and the green water.
I could have stayed up there for hours and hours and hours. But Javier told me that I had to start back down so I would get back before dark.
Going down is much easier for me. Some other people are just coming up. Inger walked down the rocky parts with me.
I have passed most of the rocks and am on the trail again.
Inger and Javier were waiting for me when I got back to the Refugio. Javier bought me a coke and insisted that I sit down and eat some snacks. I sure wished that the horses were available to take me the last 5 km. That is not far to walk, but it was already late and I knew it would be up and almost the whole way. Inger stayed with me all the way back.
I loved the design of the rocks in the roots of the tree.
The streams look different on the way back.
The pack horses passed us and I sure wish I had been able to ride on one.
It was uplifting to see the rainbow. I still had a long way to go.
The views of the water and hills were beautiful
We were down to the mostly flat part. We could still see the rainbow and Inga kept encouraging me all the way, but we were not back yet.
By the time I arrived back at our wonderful hotel at 8:45 pm I was really exhausted. As I was getting ready to change my clothes so I could get to the dining room before diner ended, Ann came into the room and offered to go get me something for dinner. She brought me a wonderful chicken salad. How wonderful to be saved by my traveling partner. While waiting for her I washed my clothes and took a bath, I was almost too tired to eat so I just picked off the chicken from the delicious chicken salad and fell asleep. The round trip was only 18 km (about 11 miles) but it took me 11 hours all together. What a day. I really loved it.
I was suppose to to do another hike today to Mirador Grey with Jane. The trip involved taking a vehicle to a catamaran for a short 30 minute crossing of Pehoe Lake. Then we would have walked the trailhead for the Grey Glacier View Point. It would have been a 22 km (13.67miles). I knew I could do 13.67 miles but I didn’t think I could do it in time to get back to the catamaran for the trip back. So I changed my plans and went on a morning trip to Laguna Azul (Blue Lake) with Ann, Joni and a couple other people. It actually involved driving in a jeep to see the sights. I was sure that Jane was going to do the hike, but when I saw her at breakfast, she said she was also too tired to do 22 km.
The jeep stopped many times for us to take photos of wildlife and nature today.
First we saw a Black Crested Eagle
The morning rainbow was beautiful.
These are just like the Guanacos we saw near el Calafaté.
They are native to the arid, mountainous regions of South America.
Guanacos are related to camels, as are vicuña, llamas, and alpacas.
It has a typical lifespan of 20 – 25 years
Estimates from 2011 place their numbers at 400,000 to 600,000 in South America.
They live in groups of up to ten females, their young, and a dominant male adult.
Unattached bachelor males form herds of their own—these can include as many as 50 or more animals.
When a female guanaco gives birth, her newborn, known as a chulengo, is able to walk immediately.
Chulengos can walk immediately and keep up with the herd right away.
When they feel threatened, guanacos alert the herd to flee with a high-pitched, bleating call.
The male usually runs behind the herd to defend them.
They can run at 56 km (35 mi) per hour, often over steep and rocky terrain.
They are also excellent swimmers.
They are one of the largest wild mammal species found in South America.
Natural predators include cougars, jaguars, and foxes.
Chulengos can keep up with the herd right away.
There were Guanacos with young ones.
We saw a flock of flamingos across a pond.
We got much closer to the Choique (Rhea) that we also saw near Calafaté.
They are the Patagonian symbol.
Source of inspiration for stories and legends, the rhea is so present in folklore as in all the paths in Patagonia.
It is a large , herbivorous, flightless bird.
They use their soft wings as stabilizers, and are fast runners.
It is one of the two “American ostriches”, but unlike its African relative has three toes instead of two.
We actually saw the Guanaco and a Choique together in the field.
We came across a pond filled with Geese.
This Upland Goose was walking around the field near the geese..
This Crested Caracara was hanging out around the gift shop. I thought it was a hawk, but Susan helped me with a possible identification.
As we were driving, we saw red fox running the woods. I know it is hard to see.
We arrived at Laguna Azul. Joni and I had took photos of each other.
After a wonderful lunch with Ann and Pat, I went on an afternoon hike to Bosque de Lenga (Lenga forest) with a couple from Brazil. It was a long, dusty uphill walk.
Our guide pointed out a very spikey plant that was called a Mother-in-Law.
This is aa close-up of the spikes.
There were many Lenga Trees.
On the way back we saw a large chicken called a Southern Caracara.
Tonight they surprised us with a BBQ that was cooked just for our Portland group in our own private room. A lamb was hung over the BBQ pit.
This was the best tasting lamb I ever ate.
We had a worderful treat when Aldo, our waiter, sang for us. Here is a shot clip of him singing.
February 4th and 5th.
We woke up at 6:00 and after breakfast we were driven back to El Calafaté today. They didn’t take much tome to stamp our passports as we left Chile. But this time our wait at the border of Argentina took over 2 1/2 hours. I really can’t understand why.
The entire trip from waking up; driving from Torres del Paine to El Calafaté; flying to Buenos Aires; flying to Miami; flying to Los Angeles;…
Jean after planning this incredible trip, navigating us through all of the traveling between places, she finally took a nap in the Miami Airport.
…flying to Portland; and the drive to my house was 43 hours. Yikes.
This was an ultra extraordinary trip. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog.
We were picked up this morning at 8:00. Our guide, Daniella, was one of the best guides I have had on a trip. She knew plants, birds, geology, history, and spoke perfect English. She showed us photos of the animals we might see; gave us history lessons;
The town of el Calafaté has grown from a our 5000 people to 25,000 because of the tourism that has developed here. It is in the province of Santa Cruz. The province used to raise mostly sheep until the price of wool declined. Now they raise cows.
The Native people (Tuhuelche – also known as the Aoniken – from Argentina and the Machupes from Chile) were, like most native peoples, mostly wiped out. The Occidental people took over the land and are called Estancia (the ones who stay and own the land).
Among the many, many birds in the area are Flamingo, Black Headed Swans, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Condors, Black Chested Eagles, Ibes and many more.
In 1937 Los Glaciares National Park was established. Lake Argentino is the largest (100 km by 40 km with channels that reach out like an octopus) fresh water lake in Argentina. . We stopped along the way for photos.
We took a Catamaran up the Brazo Arizona (one of the channels of Lake Argentino) right up close to the south part of Perito Moreno Glacier. Danielle said that the wall of the glacier that we could see is 5 km wide and about 40 to 70 meters high from the water level. We spend a long time photographing and watching small calving which we could hear but were difficult to photograph.
I took this photo off of the web because it shows the splashing from the calving.
I wondered if the cave like opening in the glacier was caused by calving.
Here is a close-up of the hole.
After the catamaran ride we went into the part of the National Park where we could see the north end of the glacier. Danielle said this wall was 30 km long but we were only seeing about 14 km of it. This view is from above,
We had a group photo taken of the wonderful people that were on this portion of the trip, but we are missing John and Jerry. I wish they had been in this spot with us.
Andy found John.
Photo taken by Andy Golay
What totally boggled my mind was when Daniella said that the total mass of the glacier is bigger than the city of Buenos Aires. So I did some research.
The 250 km squared (97 sq mile) ice formation, and 30 km (19 mi) in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile.
I read that it is known as the 8th wonder of the world.
This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water.
It was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.
Pressures from the weight of the ice slowly pushes the glacier over the southern arm (“Brazo Rico”) of Lake Argentino, damming the section and separating it from the rest of the lake.
With no outlet, the water level on the “Brazo Rico” side of the lake can rise by as much as 30 meters above the level of the main body of Lake Argentino.
Intermittently, the pressure produced by the height of the dammed water breaks through the ice barrier causing a spectacular rupture, sending a massive outpouring of water from the Brazo Rico section to the main body of Lake Argentina.
As the water exits Brazo Rico, the scored shoreline is exposed, showing evidence of the height of the water build-up.
This dam–ice-bridge–rupture cycle recurs naturally between once a year to less than once a decade.
I wish I could wrap my mind around how all of this happens. I just know that I could see the blockage and how the levels of the water were different.
I took this video to show the small waterfall where the glacier is melting. Perhaps this will cause a calving.
This video shows the ripples of water that occurred right after a very small calving. We heard but I didn’t get to start taking this video after the ice fell.
A few more facts:
The last rupture occurred on January 19, 2013 and previously on March 4, 2012,
Usually it ruptures, on average, about every four to five years.
Daniella told us that they were expecting another large calving of the glacier very soon.
As of February 2012, before the rupture on March 2nd, the glacier dammed the Brazo Rico.
The water level there had risen 5.6 meters.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing. The reason remains debated by glaciologists.
The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier is 5 kilometres (3 mi) wide, with an average height of 74 m (240 ft) above the surface of the water of LakeArgentino, in Argentina.
It has a total ice depth of 170 meters (558 ft).
The ice from the Perito Moreno glacier is so beautiful.
It would have be an incredibly overwhelming experience to be here when the rupture occurred.
The Upsula Glacier that Pat, Jane, Andy and I hiked to see yesterday actually flows into the Perito Moreno Glacier.
On the way back we stopped to so that we could put our feet into the water from the glacier. It was did not feel as cole as the water in Antarctica where I did my polar plunge.
I asked Daniella to suggest a restaurant for dinner. She suggested Isabel for authentic food. Ten of us took the shuttle to town and most of us ordered one of their most traditional dishes of Argentina. It was called plough disk cooking. The menu said they like to share part of their culinary traditions that had been kept secret for a long time among the gauchos homes and lifestyles. It was lamb, potatoes, & veggies cooked in a round cast iron pan and was absolutely delicious. I didn’t get a photo of the food but here are a few of us at the table.
Daniella also told us about a plant called “el Calafaté” which has a red berry on it. The berries can be eaten and have many uses, One way is to make Calafaté ice cream. After dinner we went to Tito’s and had a 2 scoop cone with Calafaté and chocolate ice cream What a wonderful treat to have on our last night in el Calafaté. I sure wish I had remembered to photograph both the dinner and the ice cream.
Another amazing day! I walked across the street from Las Dunas Hotel in the morning to see this view across the lake.
Pat, Jane, Andy, and I opted for a different tour from the rest of the group. We took a bus (and saw wonderful cloud formations)…
…which took us to the Catamaran for a 2 1/2 to 3 hour boat ride on Lake Argentino. It is the largest lake in Argentina.
We were excited about this adventure.
Although I was already missing Antarctica, the view here were wonderful.
There was a lot of floating ice in the lake and the blue color was vibrant. You would think we had our fill of floating ice and icebergs, but I loved seeing every one of them. They were mostly, of course, scaled-down versions compared to Antarctica.
Photo take by Pat Burnett
I actually got a photo of a Kelp Gull.
From the boat we saw where Upsala Glacier came down to the lake. We couldn’t actually go right up to the edge of it.
When we got off the boat we were picked up in a jeep. There were 11 of us in this jeep. Here are Jane, Andy, Pat, another couple, and I before we departed.
Photo by Andy Golay
We had a 45 minute drive over rough road before we began our hike.
The trail twisted and turned with spectacular views.
At one point I stopped to change the battery in my camera and missed that the group had made a turn. I saw them down below me and reversed my steps to get to them.
We paused by one of the upper lakes.
We continued along the switchbacks and path by more lake views.
The views of the glaciers made this part of our hike well worthwhile.
I took this panoramic view.
One fascinating thing was that in 2010 so much of the glacier had broken off so that the ice in the lake made getting to the hike we did today impossible.
Another unbelievable thing was to see photos of the size of the glacier in 1928. It is so amazing to see how much of it has disappeared .
The hike was definitely not easy. It was 3:30 before we stopped for lunch on the rocks.
We didn’t take much time for lunch because the guide told us that we had only gone 3 1/2 km so far with at least 11 more to go.
We had to walk over down some loose rocky paths and and shale.
There were fossils in the path. These are Belemnite fossils. Belemnites were animals that lived in the sea. They are now extinct. A fossil Belemite is usually the guard, the back part of the shell and looks like a dart or bullet.
These are Ammonite fossils. Ammonites are perhaps the most widely known fossil, possessing the typically ribbed spiral-form shell. These creatures lived in the seas between 240 -65 million years ago when they became extinct along with dinosaurs.
We also saw fools gold embedded into the rock.
I always like seeing birds and this hawk was no exception. It landed right near us.
The variety of landscapes walked through was very surprising. Sometimes it felt like we were in high desert. The color of the rock formations was absolutely stunning.
This bolder that had broken off was so beautiful.
I loved this cloud formation.
After we made it through the rocky paths, we walked though grassy fields.
The guide told us that these steer were wild and to stay clear of them.
We never took a break for the rest of the hike. We finally arrived at this bridge where Andy was waiting for us. There was a water wheel at the end of the bridge.
Andy took a photo of us.
Photo taken by Andy Golay
We still had to walk for a while longer and we had to hurry because the catamaran was waiting for us. We didn’t get back to the Catamaran until about 5:30. Then we still had a 2 hour boat ride back to the bus. Most of the people slept on the way back. The whole trip took 11 hours.
We arrived in Ushuaia early this morning. I had my last breakfast with the Texas/Georgia group (Fred, Bill, Rich & Dawn). I sure had a fantastic time hanging out with them. Fred especially made me laugh; supported me when hiking uphill; helped me with my camera; and generally added joy to each day. But, alas, we had to say goodbye this morning.
You can see the size of the MS FRAM compared to the larger ships in port.
We had 4 hours in Ushuaia this morning. The guide recommended a good coffee/tea shop with wi-fi. So most of us went to Ramos Generales.
I got a good laugh when I saw the way they designated women’s and men’s bathroom.
I went to one of the museums in town which depicted the life of the indigenous people in this area from the late 1800s. I read:
How they made their huts and built their canoes (and built fires in the canoes to stay warm)
Shared what ever food they caught with anybody nearby
When they went out in the canoes, only the women knew how to swim.
The missionaries came to the area in the early 1900s.
Diseases and other factors really wiped out the indigenous people.
The Ushuaia airport had the longest lines through security that I have ever seen. We had to go up a narrow staircase and it seemed to take forever. We arrived at our gate right in time to board.
I was surprised how much the landscape in el Calafate is like desert . Ann, Pat and I went out for a walk along part of Lake Argentino. All we had to do was walk across the road from Las Dunas Hotel where we are staying.
The water is a beautiful blue color. It must be a glacier fed lake.
Ann, Pat, and I had a great trout dinner with Carl, Rita, and John in the hotel restaurant. I am sure glad that we can share dinners. It was easy on the ship to just take what I wanted. The restaurant meals are too big for one person.
Right in the middle of dinner I went outside to take a photo of the sunset over Lake Argentina.
Ann, Pat, and I went back to our triple room. We could see what I was told is Solitaire Island with the mountain peaks in the background from our room. We will be in a triple for the rest of the trip.
The Drake Passage was pretty smooth on the way back. We spent our day mostly relaxing and going to lectures. We learned more about Sea Wanderers, Greenland, Politics in Argentina, and Winter at an Antarctica Station. The staff is so knowledgable. Greenland is now on my list of possible places to visit.
The captain took our ship by Cape Horn this afternoon. There were Petrels flying around but it was very difficult getting photos of them.
Here I am on the deck as we passed it.
Andy, Jerry, and Joni were also out there.
Photo provided by Andy Golay.
The staff held an auction in the Observation Lounge and served each of us a cocktail. They auctioned off a flag and a map. The money (I think over $600) they collected is going to The Antarctica Heritage Trust.
Although we were assigned certain tables for tonight’s dinner, Fred, Bill, Dawn, Rich, Ann & I managed to sit at the same table for our last dinner.
Morten took a photo of the staff waving “Good bye” to us all.
Then we went to a talk about Penguins and humans. We learned :
1497 was the first contact for occidental man with penguins.
Penguins were at first a food source up to about 1930.
In the 40s and 50s various countries began issuing Antarctica Penguin Stamps. The ones I used for my postcards were Great Britain ones. It became a political issue.
Beginning in the 30s, 40s, and 50s the commercialism of Penguin paraphernalia began. Manuel showed us many comics and a multitude of penguin items being sold. He said that penguins are the most frequent animal used in commercial projects.
I actually took an hour nap today. That was a first for this trip. By the way my patch worked well again.. Did you know that the Drake Passage is the largest current in the world. They said that it is 137 times more that all of the rivers in the world combined. The word they use to measure these currents is Sverdrup.
We also went to a talk about Cape Horn.
Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage and marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide.
For decades it was a major milestone on the clipper route , by which sailing ships carried trade around the world.
The waters around Cape Horn are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers made it notorious as a sailors’ graveyard.
The need for ships to round Cape Horn was greatly reduced by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.
The cape lies within what are now Chilean territorial waters, and the Chilean Navy maintains a station on Hoorn Island, consisting of a residence, utility building, chapel, and lighthouse.
A short distance from the main station is a memorial, including a large sculpture made by Chilean sculptor, José Balcells, featuring the silhouette of an albatross, in remembrance of the sailors who died while attempting to “Round the Horn.”
Photo taken by Dorene Abrams
Photo from a webpage
Fred, Bill, Dawn, and Rick had a little party in the observation lounge today and invited me. I sure have enjoyed being with them on this voyage. In addition to being so supportive of me when hiking up the hills they have kept me laughing so much of the time.
After our party I went to a talk about points of interest:
Wing span of birds
What the staff members carry in their packs when they set up our landings
Some differences between Zodiac Boats and PolarCruise Boats (what we used on this ship).
The PolarCirkel boats have a rigid structure above the air-filled rubber tubing
Before dinner some of us went to a showing of the old movie, “Evita.”
I forgot to write in previous posts (which may tickle the funny bone of people who have read about my past trips) that I ate ice cream for dessert at least once per day and mostly twice.
This voyage has been so far beyond any expectations I formed before we embarked. I already miss the penguins, whales, glaciers, icebergs, and seabirds. I will also really miss the new friends I met.
I think this would be a good place in my blog to share the video that Fred created about Penguins. It brings back great memories.
This morning we navigated back to Paradise Harbor.
The name was given by whalers who would head to this bay in a storm as the harbor offers protection from winds of almost any direction.
Waterboat Point (across from Lemaire Island) was the sight of the ill-conceived but lofty-named British Imperial Antarctic Expedition of 1921 that had two teenagers living under an up turned boat for the winter.
It is also the home of the Chilean research base, Gonzàles Videla although little actual research takes place and the staff is entirely military.
Gonzàlas Videla base staff are fond of announcing themselves as “Paradise Bay Harbour Master” to passing ships.
We were the first boat again to take off to our last landing on Gonzàles Videla and what a surprised we received. There was a very rare (1 in 22,000) white penguin. It is called a Leucistic Penguin (also sometimes spelled leukistic) and it lacks pigment. A Leucistic Penguin is different from an Albino because it still has pigment in its feet and its bill, so it is not technically an albino.
We saw a Crabeater Seal on an iceberg, but rather than sharing my photo, I am going to share the video Jay Patel’s (a fellow traveler) took yesterday.
There was also Elephant Seal near our landing and the Gentoo was right near it.
Dorene captured these photos of a Skua landing near the Gentoo and then taking off from the rock.
Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.
Photo taken by Dorene Abrams
It is kind-of sad to have completed our last landing. Each one has been so exhilarating. It is hard to think about how this expedition is coming to an end.
Sue Deitderich sent me one of her favorite photos of the Gentoo watching the Ocean Tramp that we had seen yesterday.
Photo take by Sue Deitderich
Wendy took this wonderful photo of an iceberg today. I am not sure where she took it, but it is beautiful.
Photo taken by Wendy Busch
We celebrated Heidi’s birthday in the observation lounge this afternoon even though her birthday is not until the 29th. Her Mom, Sondra, thought it would be more fun to celebrate it on smooth waters rather than when we back in the Drake Passage. The staff made a cake big enough for 20 people for all of us to share. So Sondra broke out the champagne and we started the party.
Photo taken by Jerry Kutach
Photo taken by Sue Deitderich
Photo taken by Sue Deitderich
As we were traveling we were looking for more whales. We started seeing some blows and a few whales appeared but not much over the surface of the water. The ship hung around the area for a bit and then continued heading further north towards Wilhemina Bay to look for more whales.
I still loved watching the icebergs…
…but we weren’t finding many whales. So the captain and the expedition team decided to head further north to the Gerlache Straight.
We were just sitting and talking when we noticed that it was time for dinner so Fred, Bill and I started into the dining room when somebody yelled out, “Wow” and we knew there was a whale somewhere. Fred went to the back of the observation lounge; I grabbed Fred’s jacket; and Bill and I ran up to the upper deck. It was actually snowing and blowing. My hands were freezing and I wasn’t getting any photos with my camera so Bill gave me his gloves and we stayed out for a little bit longer.
Finally we gave up and went to dinner. Somebody should have been video taping the events at dinner. We started to eat and somebody again yelled, “Wow” and we would all stood and ran either to one side of the dining room or out on the back deck. Cameras were clicking everywhere. Then we would all sat down to eat again and somebody from the other side of the room shouted out and we ran to the other side. That scenario just kept repeating. I didn’t get any photos of whales so I just took one of Fred and Rick taking photos.
It was great fun. Fred got a video and, of course, Morten took several fantastic photos so I have to post them all.
At 21:45 they announced that we crossed back over the 60th latitude, left the Antarctic waters, and were back in the Drake Passage. We were only rolling a bit.
Fred went with me when I slid some of my brother Bob’s ashes off the back side of our ship slightly after we passed the 60th latitude. I had asked about doing it in Antarctica and found out that it would have been illegal. It felt appropriate to put him in the slightly turbulent waters.
Tonight’s program (at 22:15) was the famous MF FRAM Crew Show. The show was wonderful. Joni and I even danced with the staff at the end.
I was looking forward to feeling like I was in a hammock as the shipped rocked through the night.
Last night I went back to my cabin and got ready for sleep. Then I looked out our window and noticed that the mountain peaks were reflected in the perfectly still water. So I had to get dressed again to go on deck and take a couple of photos before I could go to sleep.
Today has been another incredible day. We began our morning with an announcement from the staff to go out on the deck because we were going to be going through the Lemaire Channel. I think it only took me 2 minutes to put on all of my clothes.
The were telling us a story about these two peaks as we passed them, but I was too busy rushing to really hear it.
So I looked up the story on the web. Una Peaks, formerly known as Cape Renard Towers, are two towers of basalt, each topped by a cap of ice, guarding the northern entrance to the Lemaire Channel on the Antarctic Peninsula. The were renamed, “Una’s Peakes” by UK Antarctic Place-names Committee in 2008 after Una Spivey, staff member of Falklands Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) at Stanley, Falkland Islands. With the highest summit at 747 meters (2,451 ft), the formation has been long colloquially known as “Una’s Tits.”Remind you of the Tetons?
Some facts about Lemaire Channel.
The Lemaire Channel was first sighted by Eduardo Dallman in 1873 and then charted and traversed by Adrien de Gerlache in 1898.
He named it for Charles Lemaire, a fellow Belgian, who explored the Congo for King Leopoldo III.
Given the right weather, this eleven kilometer and 1.6 kilometer-wide channel is so strikingly beautiful that they call it “Kodak Crack.”
The steep cliffs and glaciers of Booth Island to one side mirror the opposite shores of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The clear waters gave extraordinary reflections of the mountains.
It appears that four different mountain peaks are touching each other.
It was awe-inspiring to watch (and photograph) the skill of the captain as he maneuvered the ship through the icebergs.
I learned from the staff photographer to take photos from eye level. So I was on the floor of the deck holding my camera out through the rails of the deck. Both Morten and Fred took photos of me taking the video.
The sounds of ice crackling and crushing beneath us was amazing. The captain had to maneuver the ship towards one side and then the other in order to navigate through the narrow opening you can see in this 2 min 45 second video. Perhaps it will give you a feel for it.
As we got closer to the end of the channel, I was still video taping. People were talking so I turned off the sound. It looked like we were just going to drop off the earth when got to the end. My camera battery died before we finished going through the channel.
Sue, Wendy, Andy, Dorene and I had our photo taken on the deck in the channel.
The plan was to go through the channel and then do a landing on Petermann Island. But after we made it through the channel, they announced that Petermann Island was blocked by ice. So they turned the ship around and went back through the channel. They stopped the ship between Graham Land (which is actual continent) and Booth Island.
We saw this sailboat (a Ketch) named Ocean Tramp sailing through in the floating ice. I wondered if they had attempted Lemaire Channel.
It is hard to imagine they managed the Drake Passage in a ketch.
Then each group was taken on a 30 minute Polar Cruise rides. Andy, Sondra, Sue, and Dorene were having fun on their PolarCirkel boat.
Tessa, our expedition guide showed us how to tell the difference between glacier ice and ice that is formed on the water. Sea ice is frozen ocean water that grows and melts in the ocean. Icebergs, glaciers, and ice shelves float in the ocean but originate on land. Some have bubbles and some do not. There is also clear ice which is the most dangerous for ships because they cannot see it. We all took photos as Tessa showed us the samples.
Photo taken by Fred Perry
See-through ice chunks are made from compressed glacier basal ice and are clean and pure enough to drink. The compressed air present in the ice bubbles away as it melts. This clear ice called a “Growler” and can be the size of a truck or a grand piano. They can extend t less than three feet above the sea surface and occupy an area of about 215 square feet. They are difficult to see and can be hazardous to ships.
Tessa gave a piece of this ice to Ann and she used it in her drink tonight. Ann said it was ice she had ever tasted.
We watched penguins swimming and a beautiful Seals resting on a sheet of ice. I think these are the Weddells.
You can see in this photo how close they took our PolarCirkel boats to the icebergs.
We returned to the ship and Fred, Dawn, Rich, Bill, and I sat on a protected corner on the deck in the sun talking with another couple. It was so warm that we had to take our jackets off. Those four people have been so much fun. I am continually laughing when I am around them. When I look at the photo of Fred and me, I am stunned by the beauty of the mountain behind us.
We then traveled to Danko Island. We arrived at about 18:00. The expedition team went out to scout out and set up the hike for those of us who wanted to do it. While we were waiting in the observation room one of the icebergs calved. It sent waves across the water to the next iceberg. Searching for a word to describe this spot we finally came up with “Etherial.” It was all so magical.
Those of us who wanted to hike up to the viewpoint signed up on the list. Fred, Dawn, Rich, Bill, & I were the first ones to sign up on the list. The expedition staff went out first to set up out pathways for us to walk up through the snow and mush. We had to very, very carefully make our way over some rocks and boulders to get to the snow-covered paths.
It was a pretty steep hike up through the scree, snow, and slippery slopes to the top.
The staff members were there to help people up a slippery spot.
I have been continually overwhelmed with amazement and joy on this trip. The icebergs all around us are breathtaking. Watching the penguins is just pure joy. We were surrounded by mountains covered in snow. This is such an incredible experience.
Our first landing today was Port Lockroy. You can see some of our group already there as we approached it in the PolarCirkel boat.
In Morten’s photo you can see the MS FRAM in the background.
It is one of the few sheltered harbors with a secure anchorage around the Antarctic Peninsula and had an important role in Antarctic history.
It was discovered on February 19, 1904 by Jean-Baptiste Charcot during the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05 and was named after the French politician, Edouard Lockroy.
Goudier Island, on which the British base stands, was named after the chief engineer of the expedition’s ship, Français.
After wintering father south at Booth Island, Français hit a rock and came to Port Lockroy for repairs.
Four years later Chaarcot returned on his second expedition.
This expedition carried out the first scientific work at Port Lockroy and made a hydrographic survey of the bay.
Charcot’s reports of whales were of great interest to the Norwegian whalers based at Deception Island.
From 1911 floating factory ships operated from the shelter of Port Lockroy.
In 12 years of operation 3146 whales were processed in Port Lockroy.
One of the volunteers (there are 7) from Port Lockroy came onto our ship this morning to tell us about Base A.
Great Britain first established the base in 1944 to keep an eye on enemy shipping and to destroy old fuel dumps.
The base station was closed in 1962.
After the base was abandoned after it fell into disrepair
In 1994 the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, on behalf of the British government, carried out a conservation survey of abandoned British bases in the Antarctic Peninsula region.
Subsequently, at the XIX Treaty Consultative Meeting, Port Lockroy was designated as an Historic site and Monument No. 61 because of its importance as the only surviving base of the wartime Operation Tabarin.
Port Lockroy base is now a museum that recreates accurately the conditions in which men lived and worked on a British Antarctic base in the 1950s.
The kitchen coal stove. There was also an old hot water tank in the room.
The Nissen hut erected in 2010 replaced the one that was built in 1944. It is used for accommodation and storage.
The equipment and supplies found at Port Lockroy were recovered from other abandoned British bases and all of them have been cataloged.
Here are a couple of the paintings that are on the walls where the men slept.
The volunteers stay there for about 4 months in spring and summer.
They run the store, take care of the museum, run the post office, and monitor the penguins.
The operation is financed by the gift shop and post office.
The volunteers want to make sure that their presence doesn’t have a negative impact on the penguins.
During the tourist season ships drop off water.
When the ships can’t get through, they melt glacier snow.
Base A was the first permanent base and people live there throughout the winter.
Some of us went shopping in the store.
Photo by Susan Dietderich
I mailed postcards from the base. They may arrive by spring. First the go by boat to the Falkland Island. From there they are flown to Great Britain where they are sorted and then finally sent to their destination.
In the afternoon Ann and I had the opportunity to go kayaking in Paradise Bay. To do that we had to give up exploring the Argentine Base called Brown. They took us to land on Sanavirón Peninsula to get on and off the Kayaks. So it was our fist time to actually step on the continent of Antarctica. Up to this point we have only been on the surrounding islands.
The Kayak trip was absolutely beyond any words I can use to express. My only regret is that I was discouraged from taking my camera because of getting the neoprene gloves on and off, but that was a huge, huge mistake. The weather was absolutely perfect so I didn’t need the gloves. Ann had her iPhone 5 with her. I used it to take photos and the wonderful staff on our ship transferred the photos to a memory stick that I bought in the ship store. The staff on this ship are so helpful and accommodating.
Back to the kayak trip. It took a lot of energy just to put on all of the clothing equipment that we had to wear.
Here is the list they showed us at our kayak briefing meeting of what we had to wear.
Here are Ann and I (standing on the actual continent of Antarctica) all dressed and ready to kayak.
The morning kayakers had a lot of wavy water and were very cold. Our water was like glass. We were kayaking right next to icebergs
…and going right through floating ice with spectacular views of the mountains.
Although I don’t have a photo, penguins were swimming right near us. Weddell Seals were resting on icebergs.
At one point the front of our Kayak was right up on an small iceberg and we had to back off.
We heard the loud booms as Avalanches were letting go. There were several booms but we couldn’t see them. Then finally we saw the snow crashing down the side of one mountain. Amazing! Hours and hours and hours after our Kayaking, I was still floating above the ground in wonder.
Oh yes, I received another certificate.
Since we stayed out so long on the kayaks and Ann and I had to get back to the ship for a birthday party for Joni, we didn’t have time to visit Brown Base. But I thought I would just record some info about the base. Brown Base is located on the mainland ne’er Skontrop Cove in Paradise Habour. It was named for William Brown, an Irish Immigrant who became a national hero in Argentina and is known as the father of the Argentine Navy. In 1984 the station’s Doctor went slightly mad and burned the base down. All seven members of the base were subsequently rescued by the American research vessel, Polar Duke.
The Argentinians sent down a crew every summer to rebuild base but, as many other Argentine bases, it has even closed in recent years.
Even though we weren’t there, Morten took a couple of photos.
Many of our Portland friends did go to Base Brown. Some of them hiked up a steep snow-covered hill and were able to slide down a steep hill. We could see them (like ants) at the top of the hill from the Kayak.
That is where I think Andy took these photos of Sylvia, John and himself.
Taken by Andy Golay
Photo taken by Andy Golay
We reserved a table for some of our group for Joni’s Birthday Party. The staff made a cake for her and sang for her.
We are staying right in Paradise Harbor tonight because they don’t know if will be possible to get through Lemaire Channel in the morning.
As I was sitting by a window writing this blog, a Humpback Whale just dove down I and I saw the whole tail. We are surrounded by mountains.
At 22:00 there was a Q & A with the Captain, hotel Manager, Chef, and Chief Engineer in the Panorama Lounge on Deck 7.
I think we only have 2 days left to go ashore before we head back up Drake Passage.