Last Day at Old Palmer
On the last full day we were at Palmer Station, I wanted to go out in the Zodiac one last time. Art demurred. I think he was looking forward to getting on the Gould and heading home. I wanted to see the one part of the glacier face that we had not been able to see from the Zodiacs. Curt Smith was eager to go. Our technology wizard, he ran the computer network and knew about all the electronics.
This channel was created by a collapse of the glacier in 2003 that cut off Old Palmer from the main part of Anvers Island. The channel itself was too narrow to allow boating, because of its nearness to the calving glacier face. But by climbing over Old Palmer we were able to get close and see the new ice. It was worth it because the whole scene was so fresh and pure. Plus it connected the parts we had seen from the boat.
The famous skua. Not sure if this is a south polar skua or a brown skua. They are slightly obnoxious birds that are like giant seagulls. The eat penguin eggs and chicks, and are scavengers. Not too popular among the Happy Feet crowd, but hey, a bird's gotta eat! They were very protective of their own nests. Art got a picture of one coming at him dead on, also on Old Palmer. We heard they like to kick as they go by so he ducked, but got the photo anyway.
We jumped over a lot of rocks. Its amazing how much of a rubble pile is left in the wake of glacier retreat. My feet, ankles and knees hurt for weeks!
We were hoping to take one more look at the ice arch. But a colony of elephant seals had gathered in front of our access. These two young males were wrestling right in our path. We went around them.
The Gould had pulled in a day earlier, loading freight from Palmer. It was there to take us home. A bittersweet ending. We deleted ourselves from the computer systems, the lab and our dorm room. All of our stuff was packed and ready to ship. By time I took this picture, they had already loaded our freezer container that had been on the edge of the dock. That night we stayed on the Gould in preparation for leaving the next morning.