11/19/2019 – Pressure Ridge Tour

The constant intense sunlight is starting to affect my energy levels a bit. I’ve noticed that even though I get a full 6-8hrs of sleep, by waking up at 7am I am pretty wiped out by 2-3pm. I’ve found that taking a short nap during this time really helps. My theory is that the exposure to sunlight tens of minutes before going to sleep puts myself into a “nap” mode versus a deeper sleep mode. I’ve been told it will take some time to fully adjust.

Today was eventful. I woke up and took a shower, then headed back to my room. Turning the door handle I realized that I had locked myself out of my room. Great. After knocking on the RA’s door and not getting a response, I walked to building 155, across the main road between the dorms and galley, to get a replacement key. It was a bit chilly being only in my shorts, flip flops, and tee shirt. The weather hasn’t been too bad lately. Generally, conditions are in the 20s or low 30s with low humidity and sunny skies.

After lunch, Lee and I headed to the flight ops building to be issued our groups iridium phone and VFH radios. These are primarily used to communicate with MacOps (short for McMurdo Operations) during our tower service missions. Later in the evening I finally completed my Outdoor Safety Lecture. I had been so busy last week that I hadn’t a chance to get it done. OSL allows me to participate in recreational activities around McMurdo such as hiking, biking, and skiing. The lecture focused on following flagged paths, avoiding crevasses, familiarizing with the trail systems around McMurdo, communicating with MacOps, and observing the weather for changing conditions.

An hour after the lecture, I grabbed my issued ECW gear and headed to the galley I had signed up for a tour of Pressure Ridge, an ice formation within driving distance of McMurdo. With Jesse as our tour guide, and the National Geography team to accompany, we hiked a flagged path on top of the sea ice. At first, we walked around the formations to view them from the outside. Our guide explained that the ice ridges are caused by a combination of ice expansion and contraction with heat, and the wind pushing the sea ice up to land. The sea ice in this area was around 6-8ft thick.

A third way through the tour, we began to approach a “pod” of seals. We were allowed to get as close as 30 feet away for photography, and the seals didn’t seem to mind one bit. They just chilled where they were, occasionally looking over at us before resting their head back on the ice. There were several pups resting next to their mothers. They were more curious than the adults, flopping themselves around in order to get in a better position to observe us. 

The last half of the tour we entered an opening in the sea ice ridges where we could get between some of the peaks. These ridges definitely showed the power of mother nature, with deep blue sea ice chunks 8 feet thick bulging out and bending in odd curved shapes. The formations reminded me of a time when my friend Drew Foster, my dad, and I were ice fishing on red lake a few years back. We drove across Upper Red Lake to visit Drews uncle Jimmy’s place, then came across some pretty awesome pressure ridges caused by high winds on the lake.

Ice Spiral on Pressure Ridge Tour

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