Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fata Morgana

A Fata Morgana.

Fata Morgana is the Latin translation of Morgan le Fay, who was the half-sister of King Arthur and an adversary of the Round Table. In Antarctica, a Fata Morgana is a optical illusion, specifically a superior mirage. A superior mirage occurs when the air below the line of sight is colder than the air above causing the light rays to bend down which causes the image to appear above the true object. These are very stable mirages because the cold air isn't likely to rise - maintaining the temperature gradient.

Another Fata Morgana.

We commonly know inferior (desert or highway) mirages. These are the opposite of superior mirages and are caused when the air above the line of sight is colder than the ground air. The light rays are bent up causing the image to appear below where it actually is. These aren't as stable because the hotter temperature rises which changes the temperature gradient.

An inferior (desert) mirage photographed by Mila Zinkova

A friend of mine down here sent the information about Fata Morganas to her friend Morgan spawning a discussion about what other natural phenomena have people names. We came up with an easy one for her name, Dawn, and after a little searching we also came up with one for my birth name, William.


Will O' the Wisp.

Will O' the Wisp refers to the ghostly lights sometimes seen at night over bogs. There is no definitive explanation as to why these lights occur yet.

If you have any others, let me know about them.

Monday, December 31, 2007

It's a Powder Day!!!!!!!

I'm writing this on four hours sleep. Beware.

Everyone at home might think that Antarctica is a perpetual winter land and they'd be right, but it isn't the same as Colorado. Our snow, when it falls, is the driest and fluffiest on Earth. Unfortunately, we only get 10-50" a year. Colorado can get 300-500". We stay a winter wonderland because once the snow gets here, it stays here.

Kelly and Carl at the top of Ob Hill on New Years Eve

Over the past week, reports of great Colorado snow have been pouring in and people like Julie, who I know went riding, have been making me miss Colorado winters. Luckily, we started to get dumped on two days ago. The quantity and type of snow remind me of back home. I went for a run in it and the snow was so deep from drifting that a downhill part of the run didn't even feel downhill because it required so much work. We had to turn around and look to make sure we were going down a hill. We also had incredibly low visibility - I'd guess a couple hundred yards. Somewhere in there, I started to get vertigo. I don't know if it was the lack of a horizon, having only four hours sleep, or not having enough sugar in my system. Either way, tough run.

Jami Thompson, masseuse extraordinaire and shuttle driver, on top of Ob Hill for New Years.

I spent New Year's Eve day hiking a few miles to a small area that the Kiwis (New Zealanders) have for skiing. They mark off one big area because they don't want people to choose their own hill and fall in a crevasse. The hill isn't that steep or long so it made it hard to go fast in the powder, but it did have snow which is all we really should need. We had lots of equipment malfunctions and ended up only taking a few runs because we were tired from walking out there and then up the hill, but it was so great to be riding a snowboard again, especially in powder.

Meg, Jami, Claire, and Kelly representing their new gang - the heart gang.

One person was learning to downhill ski. A couple others learned to Nordic ski on the way over. When they fell, they fell in soft snow. Same here, as I remembered what it is to ride. It's been over seven months (April 2007?) since I rode the Wall in A-Basin's last big snow. The one guy, who has been riding here for the past six months, said that it was the best snow that he has seen yet.

Meg Fitz-longname (or Megan Fitzmaurice) on Ob Hill for New Years. Go to Idaho and meet her when her and her boy are raft guides. One of the best people you'll ever meet.

People asked me if I would snowboard in Antarctica so that I could eventually say I had ridden in all seven continents. I told them no because there was no places to ride around here that compared to anything in Colorado (or even the East coast) and I didn't have a checklist. There is some great snowboarding in Antarctica, we just aren't allowed to go those parts. I ended up going because a running partner bailed on me and at the same time a good group of people was heading out. It didn't hurt that is only costs $5 to rent a board for a few days and the lift ticket is free.

Phillip on top of Ob Hill for New Year's Eve planning our winter over Magnum PI party

I know the question everyone wants to ask is what did we do for New Year's. The answer isn't that exciting. Most people had to work today, so the New Year's Eve festivities weren't too crazy. There were small hiking groups on each of the major trails, the bars were full, and lots of dorms had something going too. However, I'd say that a regular weekend night had more revelry going on. Boo for having to work on New Year's Day!!! Personally, I hiked Ob Hill and then went over to Hut Point.

Today, I imagine everyone reading this is getting ready for your own New Year's Eve celebrations. Actually, I hope you aren't reading this on New Year's Even day. You have the day off and should be doing something better than sitting on the computer reading my mindless drivel (yeah, for four hours of sleep). You have so much good stuff, and more importantly good friends, to choose from back there. I wish each of you the best. A big shout out to Cabrini in NYC where a lot of us will tune the TV in to to watch Dick Clark and the ball drop. Since we aren't in a vacuum, what will drop faster Dick Clark or the ball? Is Dick Clark even still hosting?

It is still snowing as I write this on New Year's Day! Yeah for Colorado wintery days in Antarctica during the summer!

Me up on Ob Hill for New Years Eve.