We made it. SPoT 2 2018 is in the books. We rolled into town with just enough time to catch lunch. I skipped lunch to finish this last sitrep. Then it's a nap for me then I'll pack my bags and catch a shuttle into town. It's showers, laundry and a round of drinks at the bar tonight. Tomorrow we get the day off then it's back to work on Saturday.
We packed up camp and were heading down the trail by 0730 this morning. We crossed the Shear Zone by 0830 and waited to hand off our welding gear to the Shear Zone team. The original plan was for me to stop and crane over the welder. Shear Zone crew was a little late so the crew took a break and helped me. In the end, it was nice that we all stopped and got out of the tractors. It was nice to see the guys that came to get the gear. We shared a couple of NSFW stories and laughed. The rest of the morning was spent staying focused and not screwing anything up in the home stretch.
Well, that didn't work. Four miles out from the end of the trail and The Dazzler lost half his load. As in, he lost the one bladder set he had been towing behind another bladder set. I hear a call on the radio "Hey, Dazzler I think you lost something." Looking back I can see Kevin driving away with half his load and Fedders stopping before running it over. The rope that had been towing the load over 1,000 miles finally decided that it had had enough (it kinda/sorta had been drug the whole way through snow and ice) I wasn't surprised but it was a little soul-crushing. I couldn't help but hear the words in my head from this year's pre-traverse Shear Zone Camp. "It's not an Antarctica experience unless it's a soul-crushing experience." So true. It was a simple break and a simple fix. Kriete ran a new rope back to Kevin and Fedders, helping them hook everything back together. We were headed back down the trail in no time.
We made camp and Fedders popped a bottle of Champagne to celebrate while we waited for a ride from Shuttles into town.
One of the most asked questions I get about traversing to the South Pole is "what is the most beautiful part?" I always get weird looks when I answer by just pointing out across the bay to the Royal Society Mountain Range.
People are always like "yeah, funny, I know you look forward to getting back to town but what is the most beautiful part?" No, really it's right here. We had low cloud cover today and weren't able to see everything but it's still the prettiest section of the trip. Coming back into town you have Mount Erebus smoking to your right. Flanked by Mt. Terra Nova and Mt. Terror. To your left, you drive past White Island and Black Island. In the background is Minna Bluff and Mt. Discovery.
You get to drive past Willy Airfield and if you're lucky, like today, you get to experience LC-130s taking off and landing.
Also, you get to see familiar landmarks like LDB, Castle Rock, Ob Hill and the windmills over Scott Base. To top it all off is the Mount Royal Society Mountains across McMurdo Sound. Tall jagged mountains rising directly out of the ocean, with massive glaciers flowing down their valleys. Yep, for me that even beats the views of the Leverette Glacier.
Recap on the journey
Total miles: 2027
Total Days: 45
Fuel Burned: 43,066 gallons
Fuel Delivered: 110,058 gallons
Two 20' shipping containers delivered
40,000lbs scrap steel brought back to salvage 275mb Iridium internet data used More Desserts consumed than is healthy Too many laughs to count