Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trail Days

Trail Days,
Trail Days
Good old snowy rule days.

Even Antarctica trails needs love and last Sunday, despite the wind, was their day to get it. I had only hiked on the Discovery Hut Ridge Trail, but I knew that I'd be using the rest of the trails before the end of the season so I figured it was my turn to chip in. Interestingly enough, when I was offered the same opportunity in Denver, I didn't take it. I wonder if I didn't take it there because I know there will be other people to help out. Down here, there really isn't a huge populous to help out if I choose to be lazy.

Our plan was to fix up the six miles of trail that included the Discovery Hut Ridge and Observation Loop. Some spots needed new flag poles to mark the way, others needed their cairns rebuilt, and some places needed snow pack removed to make it safe for walking. All around we were looking at a hard day's work.

Glenn and I made it to the Observation Point trail head first. The first flag and cairn were a mess so we set to rebuilding the best cairn we could. If it was the best cairn of the day, we could win a special edition Antarctica trail head sign.

What looks to be an award winning cairn to me

The next section of trail was quite a work out. Almost the entire approach to the hill was snow covered and we had to dig the trail out. If you knew where the trail was you could get a pick axe in and pry the packed snow off. If you didn't then, you had to hunt and it took a lot more time. There were more or less two people per tool so you took turns breaking up the snow or clearing it away.

Rounding the side of Ob. Hill

Glenn clears the trail with a pick axe from under at least a foot of snow.

On the back side of Observation Hill was the the most treacherous part of the trail because it doesn't get as much sun. Instead of being a horizontal walking surface, it was probably at a 15-20 degree angle. You had to move slowly along it to make sure you didn't slide down towards the sea ice. This side also overlooks where I went sledding a couple weeks ago.

The shady side of Ob Hill

We were out for almost four hours and I felt my ends start to get pretty cold. The worst part was my face because both my goggles and sunglasses fogged up and froze. When that happened, I couldn't see anymore so I had to take them off. That definitely made for a cold finish of the day, but it was all worth it. I think that is the longest stretch I have spent outside at once and I got to enjoy a beautiful day as well.

Glenn working again with the Royal Society mountain range in the background.

The cold was pretty intense for the last hour or two. A few people headed in early because of the cold. Others had just volunteered enough. My face mask froze solid and I had to just let it thaw before it would bend again. Emily Wampler from a Bend, OR horse ranch (any chance you know her Erik?) ended up with natural eyelash liner.

Emily Wampler of Bend, OR and myself with a little wind and sun burn.


  1. Those red antarctic rocks look like they came from Mars.

  2. Glad to see you're still sporting the old Sabah knit hat