After some late changes to the original group — due to some people pulling out and some others joining in — Frank, Mike, Cathie, Francis, Matt and David set out for New Year’s Eve at Brookes Hut, a short 4 hour stroll from Davis.
The weather was perfect, even by Davis standards, with positive temperatures and a welcoming cool breeze in the valleys along Lake Stinear and Deep Lake.
As with most walks there were all different pack setups for different people: some like Mike carried a small light-weight pack; Frank, Matt and Francis had larger bulky packs; Cathie had a little extra weight due to the treats she had thrown in for the New Year celebrations; and David, who had been late signing on for the walk, took an extra of everything, just in case.
As is the tradition on these walks, there is always someone with a small fluffy penguin, teddy, rodent or critter strapped to the back of their pack. Not to be outdone, as you would expect no less of a BSS, David brought his Christmas gift from home along. The debate started even before the walk as to exactly what it was. A penguin, puffin, duck or chicken were the main guesses, although chicken was soon dismissed, as we all know no chicken product is permitted off station to prevent diseases such as bird flu and the like spreading to the native bird life. The gift was bought as a penguin, but it was described as a puffin on the label. It still looked like an Adelie but was referred to for the rest of the trip as a duck and duckling, as you do. On the way, there were sounds of people behind David chuckling as the feet and head of the duck and duckling flapped, and kept rhythm with David’s steps.
The New Year was seen in by all at the hut in fine spirits and, as was the tradition back in Mawson’s day, with a proposed toast to Queen and country along with wives and girlfriends they may never meet.
We all turned in at a respectable hour in preparation for the planned walk on New Year’s Day to Lied Bluff. Cathie, Mike and Frank decided to Bivvy out, leaving the snorers in the hut… as it turned out there were more snorers outside than in.
On New Year’s day the weather was even better than the previous, thanks to Cathie (always pays to take a BOM representative with you in the field because they control the weather here at Davis with their balloons that they send up, with fine weather in some and bad weather in others, or so the story goes).
Those not full of youthful enthusiasm stayed at Brookes and passed the time reading, playing cards and resting along with the duck and duckling.
For Matt, Frank and Francis the walk to Lied Hill was well worth it, with the view from the top breathtaking and the weather goddess (Cathie) supplying perfect weather.
Another relaxing night was spent in the hut with Cathie, Matt and Francis deciding to bivvy out.
An early start for our return to Davis meant Cathie could meet her work commitments and the rest of us could freshen up and reminisce about the trip. We also spent time working out the story that we will tell our grandkids about New Year’s Eve and seeing in 2012, when we braved the elements and, just like Mawson, spent time living on the edge.
PS Never taking that Duck out again — 3kg — could have carried more important New Year supplies like face paint, had it not been for that Puffin!