Jennifer at snow school: part 2November 10, 2010
The reason I have time to write so much today is that there is a terrible storm at Rothera today: windy and snowing. None of the research planes can fly, and since that’s what we need to get our work done, we just have to sit and wait. I’m thankful I’m doing this waiting at the base however and not in a tent.
So continuing on with snow school. After retrieving Mark, we had to go back down to the base to gather our gear for the overnight portion of our training. We loaded up our stuff and went about four kilometers away from the base. The four of us got on the back of two skidoos that would take us up to the campsite. The skidoo I was on was also towing a sled with all our sleep gear, which is important to note because on the way up the slope the sled tipped and some of our stuff fell out and starting sliding down the slope. Our poor instructor had to go chase after it because there were dangerous areas on the slope. So we got up there and started to set up two tents that sleep two people. The tents are large heavy tents, not the kind you would backpack with. Anyway, at about this point I realize, “I’m going to have to sleep in a tent with one of these guys.” Another thing to mention is there was no place to go to the bathroom up there, not even the bucket that I will have available when we get to our research site. So I was thinking it’s a very good thing I packed my GoGirl for this overnight trip. However, when I came up with my brilliant GoGirl plan I never factored in a man sitting in the tent next to me.
At the site, the wind was blowing very hard in short gusts and sometimes it came from one direction and then the next time it came from another direction. Our task was to put some tents up without any part of them blowing away. After we got the tents up we went into the trailer they have set up to have a cup of tea. In the trailer, Ben taught us about lighting the stove and lantern that we would have in our tents. Then wind was blowing so hard outside that something from our gear flew by and Ben had to go get it. I was thinking this poor guy must be so exhausted. He had been teaching us non-stop since 9:00 this morning and it was about 7:30, and now he had to go out chasing our gear. After our tea we learned how to use the radio. We practiced talking back to Rothera Station to let them know we were okay. I felt like reporting back, “I need to pee Rothera, got a solution for that?”
After radio it’s on to the tents and here is where Ben tried to get past the awkward part that one of those guys had to share a tent with the girl. Two of the men were already kind of chummy, so they defaulted to each other, and that left poor Mark with me–Mark who I pulled off the mountain. I can’t really imagine what this kid was thinking, but I was thinking, “I still have to pee.” We got in our tent and set up our sleeping stuff and our stove and all. Then we boiled some water to make our food, which is called “man food.” They call it “man food” to distinguish it from “dog food,” a remnant from when people used to bring dogs down here. The bag of “man food” I had was vegetable casserole and the package read, “Best if used before 08/2006.” Very excited to have dinner, but I still had to pee.
To make “man food” you boil water and add it to a bag, seal the bag, and wait a few minutes. I have to admit it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten. After dinner Mark said he was going out to go to the bathroom and I then had to tell this 23 year old boy that I have a bottle and a GoGirl and I’m going to take this opportunity to do the same. He says “Okay, I’ll ask you if you are ready before I come back in.” Awkward! I was thankful to have the GoGirl though because the wind was still raging and I didn’t want to go outside and pull my pants down on this large flat expanse where we were camping–nowhere to hide!
Camping wasn’t too bad. That lantern kept the tent warm and my sleep gear was pretty good. In the morning it was cold and of course windy and I woke up pretty early and had to, you guessed it, pee again. So then I had to wait until Mark woke up, which seemed like an eternity, and wait for him to go outside again. Thankfully when we are in the field doing our work I have my own tent and can go whenever I want.
In the morning we packed up and started back to base. This time not only did our gear flip going down the slope, but the skidoo flipped! Before I knew it I did a flip in the air and landed facing the skidoo. The other guy on the back of the skidoo got his leg hit with the tow bar and he was in some pain. I was just amazed by the acrobatic feat I retrieved from my past to help me avoid getting pinned under the skidoo. Ben felt pretty bad about the whole thing, this poor guy, I can’t believe he has to go though this every time new inexperienced people come to the station. He has incredible patience, I would have lost it!
When we got back I found out that Ted, Martin, and I cannot be flown out to our site today. This is not good news because the longer it takes for us to get out it potentially effects how long we will be here. The planes are unable to fly in bad weather. There is a very large storm going on today and it looks like we can’t fly until possibly Saturday!