The sun set just over a month ago and the darkness is just now becoming a normal part of life for me. The faint light on the horizon at noon is just a tease that I wish wasn't there. It is a hint of sunshine and life beyond the McMurdo city limits.
|Long exposures prove that there are still mountains out there.
I was able to get back into something a little more normal for me a week or so ago and actually put on a pair of crampons and grabbed an ice axe. What used by be an almost daily occurrence suddenly became a huge novelty. Mike and I went out to an icefall to scout for that week's SAR training. The crunch of the snow was soothing for me in a way that the sound of traffic is for others. As we made our way over crevasses and below seracs I felt more alive than I have in the last few months of being in town.
|Large parts of McMurdo remain fully illuminated all winter long.
Icefalls always look menacing and scary in the dark. They are rarely seen in the dark for long. Eventually the sun will come up turning my imaginary dangers into real ones or washing away any fears I had as if the sun is saying, "it's just a piece of ice silly."
|During the day it was still light for weeks after the sun had set for the season.
We used spotlights from the Hagglund to scope out options for traveling through the ice fall. On the northern horizon, silhouetting Mt Erebus, was the type of glow that you see about two hours before the sun rises. The first thought that popped into my head was that by the time we actually start hiking it will be light enough to see pretty easily. This was when it finally hit me that it wasn't getting any lighter for quite awhile.
|On calm days fiery columns of exhaust and steam come from most of the buildings.
But now, just a few weeks later, I hardly realize it is dark--in the same way that it didn't strike me as strange when the sun was up all the time during the summer. Now I know it is supposed to be dark and am almost surprised every time I see the moon in the sky. It seems out of place since darkness has consumed everything else. On clear days the moon is beautiful, but I can't help but feel that it is taking something away from that darkness. It takes something away the same way the faint glow on the norther horizon takes away from the darkening night. In another month or two I will have different feelings toward that glow since it will be bringing the sun back instead of taking it away.