We have sifted silently across the gray, Stygian waters of the Amundsen Sea into another world. For days an unchanging gray murk of sky betrayed no hint of day or night. It was as though the Antarctic here, offshore from the only true Terra nullis left on our picked over globe cared not to even recognize the passage of time.
But yesterday evening – do I even get to call that arbitrary sweep of hands down here “evening”? – we emerged from the fog into a wrecked and frozen world. We gazed up at towering canyons of ice that…, no, I just don’t have words for it. But the sensation reminds me of nothing so much as one from an early story (“Jaguar”) when a forest dweller first climbs above tree line:
“He climbed until night fell, purple clouds shrouding the earth below him, and knew he had left the world of the living.”
I can find no better words to capture the visceral certainty of that awareness from where we stood on deck.
We have continued our way, now into the empty waters of the Amundsen Sea. An indication of our remoteness is that in a day or so we will enter another Terra nullis, without even that much-vaunted “worldwide” satellite coverage that is supposed to blanket the globe. We should pop back in some time next week, after we make it to the Ross Sea and the edge of the ice shelf. Until then, I guess we’re going old-school.
A sense of perspective.
Even our Russian ice pilot is impressed.
We’re actually here to try and find one of Caitlin’s floats. Ted tries some reconnaissance, but his drone is attacked by a tern.
Captain Brandon spots the imperceptible float’s antenna from an ice field a quarter mile off. That’s why he’s captain. Tom, George and Caitlin do the retrieval.
At least *somebody’s* happy to see us!