Overdressed for 35 below


Frozen arrival at Castle Rock


The emergency shelter had 8 inches of snow inside!

Aloha Sunday strollers,    

     Sunday, our only day off of the week, finally arrived and what better way to spend a free day than a nice hike in the outback. My NASA buddy, Mike is always up for an outdoor jaunt, so we met after breakfast and as I went back to my room to pile on as much warm weather gear as I could still move and see out of, he filed an efoot plan, the newest form of bureaucratic electronic hurdle to make it harder to wander off the station. You are supposed to list the route, names, phone numbers, departure and return times, paper or plastic, etc, and send it to the omnipotent firehouse that keeps track of all movements around the place like Norad tracking Russian satellites.

     Another buddy, also named Mike joined our group at the last minute, so the three of us stopped by the firehouse to check in and pick up a radio for emergency communications. It was a sign of the electronic sophistication of McMurdo’s servers when the firehouse said there was no record of our plan on their computers. Needless to say, when the guy who worked for 20 years at NASA can’t get the software to file a hiking plan, maybe it’s time to can the program and go back to paper, which is what we filled out before departing.

     Our destination was Castle Rock, a 1/1/2 hour stroll up the road in temps that were promised to be 35 below zero without the wind chill. It was a real test of dressing for the weather, and since I’ve learned from my limited experience on the continent that it’s always colder than you expect, I loaded up on hand and foot warmers, neck and face gaiters, goggles, hats, glove liners, gloves, long underwear, wind pants, insulated overalls and Big Red, the extreme weather coat handed out to all of us on the way to the Ice. As we started up the first hill, I could feel the sweat start to form under my 6 layers, so I had to open my coat, strip off a pair of gloves and curse at my fogging goggles. It took a while to figure out just the right balance and I thought it was pretty funny that I had overdressed for the cold, but in the end it was a great hike and nothing froze or fell off by the time we returned for brunch.

Hope your Sunday was warm and relaxing too.


Balmy Bob