It Exists, it Really Does!
The morning dawns with clear skies, unlike the last few days. No traces of the snowstorm last night remain on the ship. We have arrived in Orne Harbor. Five Humpback Whales are feeding in the little harbor around the ship. So it’s time to suit up and get out on the water and then a hike on the Antarctic Mainland! I tried to upload a tiny low resolution photo of a Chinstrap Penguin this morning. It took almost 30 minutes and still not sure if it went through or not.
Sunrise in the harbor is surreal and serene. Antarctica is a truly magical place. We are told the hiking trail has been determined as too treacherous. So we load up in the zodiacs and take a cruise around the point. Whales in the bays, ice flows, penguins and birds assault our presence as we cruise along the coast. Porpoising penguins entertain us and cliffside birds attempt to hide among the rocks but our camera lenses seek them out rather successfully. But then, they have no fear of us so they don’t hide as well as they likely could!
More whales and porpoising penguins show themselves on the way back to the ship for lunch. Back aboard, we avail ourselves of food and drink and happy conversations as our day progresses. The ship pulls anchor and makes its way on to Paradise Harbor.
After lunch we load ourselves back into the zodiacs for an afternoon tour of Paradise Harbor and Base Brown. A colorful set of red buildings (which I can only guess is a welcome sight in thick fog and poor visibility) that serve as another research station here.
We disembark the zodiacs and hike up a mountain for around 300 vertical feet or more to stunning overviews of the Harbor and the ice flows. It is such a warm day that several of the passengers strip down to shorts and t-shirts and make the climb that way just because they can. I, personally, don’t feel like carring all my gear wrapped around me and it is only after I reach the low summit that I see the other passengers have left their gear at the bottom. If I had only known, LOL.
When we get back down to Base Brown, there are dozens of Penguins showing off for our cameras and making it difficult to walk the trail without getting our boots dirty with guano.
So we climb back down and get back in the zodiacs and take a tour of the Harbor, finding all sorts of seals and icebergs to greet our senses. Lazy sea Lions and Seals lounge around and act disturbed by our presence (which they most likely were) but they lay back down and bask in the summer sun while lying on their own personal ice flows! The afternoon sun creates quite the array of shapes and lighting challenges for our cameras.
The afternoon comes to a close and we head back and board our ship. After dinner we go back out onto the deck to watch a spectacular sunset. For any of you that have ever heard of the “Green Flash”, I have good news for you. I grew up hearing of the “Green Flash” but only thinking it was a total myth, something of legend. But this is not the case.
The “Green Flash” is an effect of the light at the exact moment the sun sets below the horizon. At the exact moment the sun disappears, it is said it “Turns Green”. Well, I captured it on film today. Well at least on ‘digital’ film. It is a phenomenon that I never thought, for a million years, had any credibility. But here it is folks. Look close at the pictures. I did not change the color. The “Green Flash” exists. Maybe it is a function of how slow the sun sets down here. The “Flash” only lasts a split second. Back up at the Equator or the middle of the world, it lasts much less. Maybe that is the key. But I saw it and I am sticking to it. I have seen it with my own eyes!
We go back in the ship, satiated with memories and head to the bar for some more cool libations. It has been a truly wonderful day! Goodnight all and we’ll see you in the morning!