A walk in the Vestfold Hills
Three of our expeditioners, Aaron C (electrician), Ducky G (plumber) and Mark P (carpenter), recently spent five days hiking in the around Davis station area known as the Vestfold Hills. The Vestfolds Hills is the largest ice free area in Antarctica covering approximately 100,000 acres of land. The landscape is quite Mars except for the 300 odd lakes and ponds which are nestled amongst the many small hills in the area.
After a team of ‘senior’ expeditioners recently completed the same journey some three or four weeks earlier, the three boys (all in their 20s) felt it was their duty as the ‘young blokes’ to give it a go as well.
The team set off from Davis station carrying everything required for the five day journey in their backpacks, including nappy rash cream and bulk supplies of talcum powder, essential items for survival in the Antarctic.
The guys walked an average of 15 kms per day, staying in field huts each night which are scattered throughout the area. Meals consisted of vacuum packed toasted sandwiches for lunch and army style dehydrated meals for dinner. The vacuum packed toasted sandwiches copped a large amount of criticism during the preparation phase on station, however they proved to be a real winner in the field, getting better with each day that passed, except for Ducky’s sandwiches that were vacuumed packed so much that they had thinned out like biscuits and actually became transparent in the sunlight.
One of the goals of the trip was to search for a capsule that a friend of Aaron’s had placed on top of Stalker Hill back in the late 90s. Stalker Hill is one of the larger hills in the area. Whilst only reaching 144 m above sea level, it is a prominent landmark of the area. On their third day, with only an old photo and a vague description to go off, the team headed up Stalker Hill in search of the small copper capsule. After ten or 15 minutes of moving rocks around at the summit the search was called off. The copper capsule had long since been replaced with a large yellow wooden box containing a visitor book dating back some 15 years. It did however contain some laminated entries from the old capsule including a note from Aaron’s friend.
The three enjoyed beautiful weather for the trip with calm sunny days and temperatures from -10°C to -4°C. The freshwater lakes dotted through the area have all re-frozen now and the mixture of snow, ice and rock made for spectacular scenery.
After five days and around 75 kms of walking the three ‘young blokes’ returned to station for a hard-earned shower and warm meal.
For Mark P, one of our summer carpenters, this trip was his last for the season before boarding the Aurora Australis and heading back to his life in Australia.
“The Chux wipe, tea towel and talcom powder ‘bird bath’ we shared together on our last night was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.” Mark P
“We all bonded like brothers on the trip. I reckon we laughed for about 80% of the time we were out. The scenery was amazing, especially the further away from station we got. I’m sure this will go down as one of the highlights of my year down here.” Aaron C