After our shuttles holiday party and mid-rats (the midnight meal for the night shift), three of us took off to hike to Castle Rock. My friends Geoff and Arnita invited me to accompany them on the hike. This is one of the hikes that requires filling out a trip permit form, checking in and out with the Firehouse, and carrying a hand held radio.
|Castle Rock with Mt. Erebus in the background.|
We left about 1:30 am. It was clear with very little wind, perfect weather for hiking. Along the trail there are two safety shelters, called apples, for hikers in case the weather changes or folks need a place to rest and warm up.
|The inside of one of the shelters.|
|Me in front of the shelter.|
There were great views along the way, particularly of Mt. Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf. But as we got closer to Castle Rock, fog started forming over the ice shelf, making its way up towards us.
Mt. Erebus puffing away. Do you see
the rabbit and the buffalo?
|Fog forming over the Ross Ice Shelf.|
In the picture above, where fog is forming over the ice shelf, you can see the ice roads that I drive on a regular basis. Where they split, the one to the right goes to the Phoenix Airfield and the one to the left goes to Williams (Willie) Airfield. In the foreground, before the split in the roads, is the staging area for the South Pole Traverses. There are three traverses during the summer season most years that take fuel and supplies to the South Pole, being pulled behind tracked vehicles. The Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole is over 800 miles from McMurdo.
Near the base of Castle Rock, the trail continues
on and connects to the ice road.
Geoff and I decided to climb Castle Rock while Arnita headed back to the second shelter. And it was a bit of a climb. I was appreciative of Geoff leading the way, and for the ropes along the climbing route. It was foggy near the base but it was clear on top. And what a view.
Looking towards McMurdo with Mt. Discovery
in the background. The trail is readily visible.
|Another view of Mt. Erebus.|
|Proof I made it to the top of Castle Rock.|
It took us about an hour to climb up and back down, and to get back the second shelter. There we met Arnita and began making our way back to McMurdo. It was a wonderful hike. The only people we saw the entire trip were within a half a mile of the trail head. We had the place to ourselves.
|My friends Geoff and Arnita.|
We got back to McMurdo around 5:30 am and checked back in with the Firehouse, ahead of our scheduled 6:15 am return time. We figured we hiked a little over 8 miles. Thank you Geoff and Arnita for inviting me to join you on that incredible hike.