Bag Drag

The wind and snow since Friday stopped all flights from departing to Christchurch.   Given the backlog of people in front of us on the cancelled flights, it seemed unlikely we would fly off the continent as scheduled tomorrow.   When the first flight manifests came out this morning, we were not listed, but around ten we showed up on a new manifest.  If things go as planned, we will fly off the continent on a C-17 sometime early tomorrow afternoon.  If.

Your trip off the continent begins with Bag Drag.  This is a weigh-in for all your bags and you.   We are limited to 75lb of checked luggage and one carryon (it’s not clear what limit there is on the carryon).   Bag drag is at the Post Office, which doubles as the air transport terminal.   There is no limit on your weight.  First they weigh your “checked” bags, then your carryon, and finally you, wearing all your ECW (extreme cold weather) gear.  I didn’t ask how much I weighed.  (I’d stuffed some electronic equipment and both cameras in pockets of my Big Red parka in order to reduce the weight of my carryon.)

Bag drag, the first step in leaving the continent.

Bag drag, the first step in leaving the continent.

After the storms of the last four days, the weather cleared and it became almost still.   After Bag Drag I was going to have a drink at one of the McMurdo bars, but the weather had become so nice that I spent over two hours walking around.  I got out to hut point, and in a miraculous coincidence, ran into a group of Polies who were getting a tour of Scott’s Discovery Hut.  I’d tried several times to get into the hut after we came back from the field, but I was thwarted by the weather, so it was a wonderful to get inside and look around.  I’ll probably be writing about that visit from Christchurch.

The open water in McMurdo Sound really sets off the Royal Society Range.  This photo can’t do the scene justice, but it might give you a flavor of what my last night in Antarctica was like.

Sea ice and the Royal Society Range across McMurdo sound from Hut Point.

Sea ice and the Royal Society Range across McMurdo sound from Hut Point.

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2 thoughts on “Bag Drag

  1. Hi Ben, It looks like your excellent adventure is soon going to end. I have really enjoyed reading all of your posts and have a much greater appreciation of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. My son Mikey has been working with you and so of course I also have a better idea of what he has been up to. I look forward to hearing the end of the story.

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    • This great adventure is indeed drawing to an end. Barring mechanical problems we will be flying from the continent in a few hours. I have very mixed emotions–it will be good to go home, it will be good to have fresh food, and it will be good to see the dark (and the stars) when outside, but this is a singular place, and I am sorry to leave. I am certain Mikey and the rest of our team are experiencing similar feelings.

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