Lake Hoare is Capitol of the Dry Valleys. It is has the best food, legendary nightlife and the most diverse population of any Valley camp. In those respects, some would argue Lake Hoare tops the charts on the continent—it is certainly a sought-after destination. For us, and for other camps in the Valley, Lake Hoare is also our weekend resort by the lake, and our center of commerce and administration. And, it has a shower.
This is where we celebrated Thanksgiving.
Rae Spain is the Mayor of Lake Hoare and the Chief Operating Officer of the Dry Valleys. She is also a quartermaster and executive chef with exquisite skill and taste. Her ability to acquire supplies brings to mind the capability of Heller’s Milo Minderbinder, but without the amorality and the black-market trading with the Germans. Oh, since I mentioned the Germans:
The German have brought their Ice Mole to drill, autonomously, through the Taylor Glacier, and bring back samples of a brine stream that surfaces at a feature called Blood Falls . If the Ice Mole works here, its offspring may travel to Europa or Titan. The Germans also love a party.
When we entered the valley in early November, our first stop was Lake Hoare. This is often rationalized as a good place from which to start servicing gauges, but in reality, the primary reason to start at Hoare is to become oriented, and acculturated to life and operations in the Dry Valleys. And, central to those operations is Rae.
Rae began working in Antarctica in 1979. She helped build the current Lake Hoare hut (which replaced a Jamesway shelter in 1994) and also helped build our hut at F6. She later became the camp manager at Lake Hoare.
When we are at F6, we are left to our own devices. As long as we make our daily check in to MacOps (Motto: Check in or die) no one outside our PI really cares what we do. But, if we move by air, we go through Rae, and this is true of any team operating out of the Taylor Valley. Rae handles planning and coordination of all of the helicopter operations in the Valley. This makes our lives a lot easier, once we figure out just what information Rae needs and when. And Rae also works hands-on with the helo pilots and techs, traveling around the valley to “build a sling load” that will be carried below the helicopter in a cargo net at the end of a steel cable.
Rae’s assistant Renee worked last season in supply in McMurdo and then applied for the position of assistant at Hoare. Rae and Renee cook dinners and bake six days a week. Camp residents are on their own for breakfast and lunch. Both Rae and Renee are great cooks, but they are also wonderful bakers, which makes our stays at Hoare even more delightful. Accordingly, we had a wonderful feast at Thanksgiving. We lacked for nothing. After dinner, the Velcro Lounge was set up for the traditional Thanksgiving dance party. See “Germans”, above.
Our weekly routine is to spend Monday through Friday working out of F6 (and perhaps flying to other valleys). On Saturday we will usually schedule a flight to a remote site, with a return flight to Lake Hoare. We’ll spend Saturday at Hoare, get showers on Sunday and return to F6 Sunday night or Monday morning, sometimes by helicopter, and sometimes by foot.
Here are a few photos from Lake Hoare.