A work trip into the field

The Grey Nomads

With the sunlight returning, much to everyone’s happiness, it seems time is getting away on us. Before we know it the ship will be here so everyone is making the most to get the last bit of ‘Vestfold Hills adventures’ in as they can. What better way to do this than a working trip. It’s a tough gig but someone has to do it.

Surrounding Davis research station there are various field huts and ‘apple’ refuges. These are used for shelter during operational and recreational trips into the field and need some TLC too.

This week, the team known as ‘The Grey Nomads’ were tasked with tending to such field huts to carry out inspections, maintenance and repairs.  On the list were our northern facilities: Brookes Hut, Ace Lake Apple, Platcha Hut, Bandits Hut and Rookery Lake Apple. 

With the Hägg all packed up it was time to hit the open ‘road'. First stop was Brookes Hut for a cuppa tea and hut inspection.  All eyes were peeled on the surroundings as there had been rumours the first seals of the season had been spotted. Some eye tests and new glasses may be required for the grey nomads on return. Unfortunately, the only seals that were spotted were rock seals.

With the first inspection complete it was on to the next hut, Ace Lake Apple. With stunning views overlooking Long Fjord and the Vestfold hills, the cosy apple would be a prime place to spend the night but as it only sleeps two it would prove to be very cosy for the four of us, so onwards to Platcha Hut it was.

The drive up Long Fjord was paved deep with snow and the Hägg had to work hard — it was slow going but we made it. Positioned at the base of the Antarctic plateau, and surrounded by the Vestfold Hills landscape, Platcha offers a unique and spectacular view. After the hut inspection and a few minor repairs were complete it was time to relax and enjoy the evening.

Day two started with a small walk to high ground next to the hut to take in the views and catch the sunrise. On our way to Bandits Hut, we made a quick stop at the towering wall of ice known as the ‘Amphitheater’. With its impressive shades of blue and ice all around, it definitely is one of the highlights around Davis station.

The following day, with Bandits Hut works complete and a slight detour to Sir Hubert Wilkins Cairn and Walkabout Rocks up our sleeve, it was time to wind our way south through the beautiful iceberg alley, paying our respects and repairs to Rookery Lake Apple on the way before finally returning to station… and a hot shower! Not a bad way to start the week.

Amy Chetcuti (Expedition Mechanic)