For a group of us, this was our biggest jolly of the season. Five expeditioners flew ‘First Class’ to Platcha hut, on the edge of the plateau, on Thursday 11 February: Ducky Gillies, Curly Hilder, Kirk Allison, Col ‘The Tracker’ Ford, and Neil Sheridan. February: Ducky Gillies, Curly Hilder, Kirk Allison, Col ‘The Tracker’ Ford, and Neil Sheridan.
The harsh Antarctic climate and remote wilderness of the Vestfold Hills were no match for ‘The Tracker’s’ subconscious survival skills. With his in-built compass and survival chamomile tea bags, he led us through the Vestfolds with confidence.
It was not all fun and games though. We were contracted to do some minor maintenance at Platcha hut. The faded ‘H’ on the helipad needed a lick of paint to freshen it up, and the old meteorology hut needed some of the tie-down wires repaired.
From Platcha hut we continued on Saturday on foot. Tracker, like a homing pigeon, knew these hills were no match for him and led us safely to Trajer Ridge melon. We climbed Stalker Hill on the way taking in the views all around. Navigating hills and blue ice made for an interesting day for this group of intrepid adventurers.
Our biggest day of the trip took us from Trajer Ridge hut to Crooked Lake apple via Boulder Hill, again we were spoiled with great views. This was on Sunday and after 15 kms of hiking with packs through rocky, icy, and at times soft and boggy terrain, we were rewarded with the sight of Crooked Lake apple, the smallest accommodation on our route. Built to accommodate We squashed into the hut
Our last destination after Crooked Lake apple was Watts hut, five kilometres away. This was the only day we were unlucky enough not to have sunshine, but on another note, it was pleasant to walk as snow fell around us.
We arrived at Watts around noon giving us the afternoon to take it easy before joining life back at the station the following day. After a snowy start, the skies cleared in the evening allowing us to explore a little of the local area. Not far from the hut we came upon five Weddell seals taking a break on the ice which was a nice treat to finish the trip.
Our taxi was schedule for 0800 and five happy expeditioners returned to Davis.