Dorian Bay and Modern Explorers

Friday, November 20th.  Double socks, muck boots, long underwear, pants, shirts, parkas, balaclavas, hoods, waterproof mittens, weather proof camera bags, cameras in storm jackets, 28degrees with gusts over 40mph blasting one with crystallized snow. You can hear it crackle and pit against your parka. Welcome to Dorian Bay in the Palmer Archipelago.  This is a small bay enclosed by mountain and glacier. Icebergs casting Caribbean blue shadows great your zodiacs as you make your way to land. This is home to two huts, one well-maintained and stocked by the British and a small hut owned by Argentina.  It is also home for a colony of Gentoo penguins. As Cherry-Gerrard says,“ All the world loves a penguin…had we half their physical courage none could stand against us. Their little bodies are so full of curiosity that they have no room for fear…”.  As penguins go, they are among the least aggressive and are much quieter than the chinstraps. They are easily identified by their orange beak. Many are sitting upon nests made of small pebbles . As you watch them navigate across the ice and snow, they instinctually turn away as each crystallized gust strikes. So do we.  It is a rough ride to shore and tough walking as the snow collapses beneath our feet, but how able we are to imagine Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton sledging and skiing eight hours a day in drastically worse conditions in their quest of the South pole.  After lunch, we visited Palmer Station, the U.S. research station here on the peninsula and then took zodiacs to Torgersen Island where we spent time with a nesting Adelie penguin colony and were greeted by a number of Elephant seals.  Our weather was now warm and calm, and it was difficult to believe we were in the same world as this morning. After dinner, we were addressed by Mr. Neil Armstrong who spoke with us about the nature of exploration and made comparison between the journeys of Captain Cook and Apollo 11. Most of those who work at Palmer Station were brought over for dinner and to hear Mr. Armstrong speak. It was amazing to see the rapture of the young scientists as they listened to a legend in expedition speak.  It is 11:00 P.M. and we are in total daylight and waiting  for the engines to signal our departure. Tomorrow we will make our way through the Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island, and Penola Strait. Even more importantly, I will await the Ohio State vs. Michigan score.