Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hiking, rain, moss. Monday November 30

We are at Molke Harbour in Royal Bay--specifically because it is sheltered from strong northerly winds. But it is a wet, kind of miserable morning. Zodiac ride to shore in a 20 MPH wind (about 42 degrees F) with a drizzle and very cloudy skies. As we hike away from the beach, the wind calms down and the drizzle almost stops. Two reindeer herds, one with a large buck standing watch. We hike up a small river that is fed by melting snow. It’s surprising how far up the river the elephant seal weaners have come--especially considering that they can not lift themselves up on their flippers; they move more like maggots. The river isn’t very deep and the bed is about full of fist size and larger rough rocks. Moving down the river to get back to the sea must be really hard on the skin on their bellies.

There is a great variety of mosses and lichens on the hills.

During lunch it is very rough--the bow is pounding into the sea and spray is going as high as the bridge. A lot of people don’t finish their lunches and disappear into their cabins. Luckily, I had taken the sea-sickness medicine about a hour before we left the relative calm of Molke Harbor. But after a light lunch I also lay down in the cabin for a quick nap. That seems to be one of the best ways to avoid sea-sickness--just sleep through rough seas.

We get to Jason Harbor--again chosen mainly for being sheltered from the northerly wind. Bev decides to keep napping. We have to wind our way through the fur seal males--keeping our distance from all of them. It is a strange landscape--tussuc grass mounds that have been grazed very short by the reindeer with standing water between them. You have to step from one mound to the next to make your way back to higher ground. More reindeer, some Antarctic Terns that are unhappy with us, some molting king penguins standing in a middle green grass.

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