Last day in the trench
Yesterday we put the finishing touches on our lava-flow trench and ate our last meal with the geologists. This morning our helicopter appeared low over the horizon, zigzagging against a cross wind. A moment later the five of us were crouched under the rotor wash, waving our arms as the wind whipped unintelligible syllables between us. From the air, our tents were just yellow candy wrappers on a great brown pavement. I remembered Kurz slipping off his overglove to shake my hand. He had come down with Soule’s cold and nearly lost his voice; now here we were abandoning him in day 4 of a windstorm. I felt rotten; he just flashed me a smile.
Now Chris and I are back in McMurdo. Streams of meltwater run through the streets at all hours and we recognize people everywhere: Jami driving a truck with six-foot tires; Ken the wastewater treatment engineer at lunch. Bright tents give way to pitch-dark dorms, six bunks to a room. They’re overheated and stuffy, impossible to stay awake in, which I suppose is the point. Typing from a library armchair, I find myself leaning into a ghost wind. My fingers are still raw from shoring up rock anchors this morning.
Read on about our adventure in the slideshow below. Can't see the slideshow? Get the Flash plug in »