Sizing Up the Dragon
MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA– “Have your bags ready.” Everyday it seems we are on hold to leave for the sea ice. Our team is anxious to set up field camp. We are days behind schedule in our expedition. We’ve had set back after set back.
Yesterday a storm was expected. At our morning meeting we were informed of poor weather conditions. The winds were expected to send up snow like a sand storm and drive temperatures into the negative twenties. Six of the men on our team were poised to leave. They required one additional volunteer. This would leave over ten of our team members behind. “I’ll do it,” I said. I figured it’d probably be easier on me than most. Plus, I’m in Antarctica, might as well see what I’m made of.
Later that afternoon we were informed we weren’t allowed to leave under such poor weather conditions. More waiting. How can the simple act of waiting be so exhausting?
[To see pictures from the storm, read my last dispatch here.]
Today in our morning meeting, we are again scheduled to leave. The weather is supposed to be better today. I’m ready. In mind and body, I am eager to see what this continent has in store. Not under the roof of a reinforced building but in the wide open spaces of the extreme environment. I want to see what I can do. Will I crumble? Maybe I’ve been fooling myself. Maybe I don’t have what it takes.
My bags are packed and my last shower taken. It’s sink or swim now. I wonder why I’m not afraid. I think back to all the obstacles I’ve met throughout my life and compare them to my image of field camp in Antarctica. I realize this won’t be the most difficult thing I’ve done. I’ve slain bigger dragons than this. And, imagine all of the amazing things I’ll see. Imagine all the science to be done.
The sleds are packed to the brim. Piston Bully, giant fuel tanks, skidoos and enough food for over a month sit poised for our final leg to field camp. As we set off, I’m struck with a rush of excitement. All I can say is “Yeeeeeeehhhaaaa!” Let the adventure begin.