Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Saturday, November 24, 2012

That First Spring Day

McMurdo Station & Mt. Erebus

There is always that one day that marks THE change.  It may not be the last day of winter, but it certainly is the first day of spring.  After months of dreary streets and icy sidewalks it seems as though everything in town had decided to make the change.  New shoots of green grass push up through the trampled dead grass and mud.  Every branch in the city is strewn with tiny green buds with the same hope for spring.  The people are the biggest emergence.  Everyone comes alive.  Every open space is filled with frisbees and softballs.  Every dry space in the grass holds people lying on blankets soaking up the newfound sunshine.  Shorts are dawned for the first spring jog.   Everyone emerges from their winter gloom.

LC-130s on the ice runway
We had that day here in McMurdo last week.  Despite the temperature still being below freezing the streets turned into a slushy mess and streams of water flowed down the hills toward the sea ice.  Everyone walked around a little bit happier.  Some people went for runs in shorts while others did still walk around in their giant down jackets.  The biggest thing missing was green; anything living and green.

New Zealand's Scott Base
I figured it was a good time for me to climb up Observation Hill.  I’ve wanted to head up there since I got to town, but I wanted to save it for a nice day and until I was ready to get a new view around here.  It reminded me of walking up to the M in Missoula; about the same elevation gain and gave a spectacular view of town and in this case the Ross Ice Shelf and McMurdo Sound and Ross Island.

Looking out across the Ross Ice shelf
McMurdo Sound
It wasn’t spring on top of Ob Hill.  If the view didn’t remind me of where I was the colder bite of the wind certainly did.  The cold feeling justified the vast white landscape that I was looking at.  When I am in McMurdo the vehicles and buildings all seem so massive.  Looking down on station from the top of the hill it seems like such a tiny part of this world.  Everything about the landscape around me is so big, but the mountains and ice that I can actually see right now are hardly big enough to be mentioned on a map of the whole continent. 

McMurdo from Ob Hill

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