The day begins with an early get up, however from being outside I can already tell it is going to be rewarding. The seas are as calm as can be while the air is cool and fresh.
Isolated white clouds move against a rich deep blue sky as the morning sun shines a blinding reflection on the surrounding white landscape. As if absorbing the scenery is not consolation enough, we are soon about to embark on our second Antarctic landing.
Although the first zodiac will be leaving around 6am, I am in no hurry to be first in line. I am more comfortable getting to the Mud Room after the second wave of passengers have cleared out.
The cool wind whips the unzipped flaps of my parka but otherwise I am cozy for the boat ride. The zodiac produces an occasional spray as it is maneuvered, racing away from the Akademik Ioffe.
Yellow spots are spread over a bright white background as we approach our landing spot on Half Moon Bay.
I set off to join up with a few yellow spots.
For the most part, I am fortunate that a trail has already been made in the fresh and mostly untouched snow. An occasional misstep and I find myself sinking up to my knees in fresh powder.
A bright sun warms the clear air and ironically I am almost beginning to break out in a sweat on Antarctica.
As if to keep my expectations in line, gray clouds in the distance are producing snow showers on a nearby island. The winds are kind enough to send a few flakes our way.
At the midpoint we will make a brief stop at an abandoned Argentina Research Center.
On the waterway next to the island, kayakers from the Ioffe are taking in another view of the stunning scenery.
I can’t seem to avoid frequently sinking up to my knees in snow.
However, there is a reward in climbing up a snow hill, I get to go down it, sliding on my butt. Now, that was fun!
I can feel the beach pebbles beneath my insulated feet as I walk along the water's edge. An iceberg or two drifts slowly in the nearby bay.
A quick commotion and a few tails break the water surface then a black and white body emerges a couple of feet from me. Standing still, I watch.
I watch as a few of them take a ritual walk up and down the hill. Sometimes solo, sometimes in pairs.
A few of them come back carrying pebbles from the beach below.
These are used for nest building.
I know there is more of Antarctica for us to experience but it is so comforting here that our 9:30am last zodiac departure seem to come too quickly.
I am told this will be on Deception Island later this afternoon.