Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Hike

Last Saturday, the wind howled all night. When I got up Sunday morning it was still howling. I turned on the TV to our local weather report (just a series of slides, no audio). The temperature was -8 F with wind chill of -35 F. It is our "day off". The galley opened at 10 am for brunch. Afterwards, Shawn, a plumber, and I went for a hike. We went to Hut Point, which is where a cross sits on a hill, just past Scott's Hut. Scott's Hut was where he and his team arrived and built the shelter. The trip didn't end so well for them, as you probably know.

I got all decked out in my extreme cold weather gear for the hike. Let me tell you what was involved from the inside out:
underwear and socks
thermal long underwear, top and bottom
jeans and long-sleeved knit shirt
wind pants and Polartec fleece pull-over
balaclava (the grey ski mask covering my entire head except for a small opening around my eyes
Polartec fleece stocking cap
specially protective sunglasses
Thinsulate lined gloves
Thinsulate lined hiking boots
big red parka with fur-trimmed hood

The tiny patches of skin that show on the photo were really cold. When facing the wind, I had to turn my head to keep the wind from creating frostbite on the exposed skin.

The plaque that sits outside Scott's Hut is shown.
The last photo is of me standing at the cross at the top of Hut Point. The cross is in memory of a fellow whose last name is Vince. He died at or near that spot in 1902. He was part of Scott's team.
The hike to Hut Point was with the wind at my back. No worries. The hike back was with the wind to my face. Phew, that was tough: fighting the 35 kt winds and trying to guard against the effects of the cold wind against my exposed face. I should have worn the full-face goggles instead of sunglasses. Luckily, no harm came of it. As soon as I got back to the main building, Shawn and I made arrangements to meet in the dining room, where I was planning a warm cup of cocoa. As I was washing up to go to the dining room, my pager went off (yes, I carry a pager 24/7). The call was from the hospital, which was just across the street from the dining room. I walked over to find Colin and Maureen, the other doc and the nurse practitioner, already there. The three of us waited for the arrival of a hypothermia victim. He was on a longer windier hike. The day was bright and sunny and he was tricked by the appearance versus the conditions. Anyway, his buddies recognized his distress and called in the emergency. The Search and Rescue team was on it immediately. They brought him to the clinic. We were able to rewarm him appropriately and safely.

Harry Owens, the summer lead physician, arrives October 10. Also expected to arrive during the summer flights are a radiology technician, laboratory technician, physical therapist, flight nurse, and physician assistant. They are all seasoned veterans of this place, which leaves me as the sole newbie.
Dr. Harry Owens

I am volunteering in the library on Sunday afternoons. It's quiet, warm and humidified. Glorious! At 8 pm tonight is a Travelogue by one of the group. It should be an interesting talk. I am going to give a science lecture in late January on Dengue Fever. Many of the people redeploying will visit southeast asia. This is one of the areas in the world that is experiencing an epidemic of Dengue, so I thought it might benefit our community to learn about it prior to redeployment.

Today Colin x-rayed and casted a broken arm. Tomorrow begins my weekly series of meetings.

I am so impressed by the research that Mrs. Shuwarger's fifth grade class has been doing on nacreous clouds, Antarctic seals, and penguins. Way to go! Now, can you tell me which explorer was first to reach the South Pole and when?


Alaina said...


looneykat said...

Wow! I can't imagine temperatures that low! Living in Texas, it NEVER get even close to being that cold! Brrrrrrrrr!!!

Anonymous said...

I work at Piedmont Eye Center and I had the pleasure of meeting your mother and father Tue 9-23. They were telling me about your trip and where you were. I was looking at your blog. That is the neatest thing ever, I would love to see that beautiful place. I have always wanted to go there.
Nice meeting you
Crysatl FLoyd

eyedoc said...

Hi Don!!

I just found this site thanks to Zena's weblink. I am thrilled that you are having a good time there. Keep posting those pictures-- they are beautiful!

I sent a link to this website to Sarah's kindergarten teacher. I don't know if they would be too young to correspond with you as a class, but I left it up to her teacher anyway.

Keep me informed on how you are doing. BTW, what time zone are you in?!?!?


Anonymous said...

Your clothing list reminds me of what I had to wear to go snowmobiling at night in PA! Obviously not as cold as you are experiencing but cold enough for me.
Keep sending the photos.

pennydq said...

Hi, Don.

Your dad told me about your blog, so here I am. Pics are, indeed, funny.

L'shana Tova--hell, happy new WORLD! Must have been a little eerie.

I should send you a piece of honey cake I am making from your mother's recipe-it freezes well....

I thought it was cold the night I delivered my firstborn at Prentiss Women's in Chicago. -5 or so with a windchill of -80, but that is routine for you now, I suppose.

My very warmest wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

Penny Millson-Martula

Ms. Shuwarger's Class said...

Dear Dr. Shuwarger,
I am Parker in Mrs. Shuwarger's fifth grade class. I looked up information on the seals. There are 6 seal species in Antartica, the Fur, Leopard, Ross, Southern Elephant, Crabeater, and the Weddell. The Fur, Ross, Weddall, Southern Elephant and the Crabeater eat krill, fish, and squid. The Leopard eats penguin, fish, krill,squid, and sometimes other seals. The Fur weighs 250pounds and is 6-7ft. long. The Leopard is 10ft. long. The Ross weighs 1,000 pounds and is10ft. long. The Weddell weighs 1,000 pounds and is10ft. long. The Southern Elephant males weigh4 tons and females are 1 ton. The male is20ft. long and the females are 10ft. long. The Crabeater weighs 500 pounds and is 9-10ft. long. I hope you are having fun. The class says Hi.


txearman1 said...

Dear Don, as your father, I was thrilled to hear that those that I spoke to about you in Antarctica, responded even though the one that said she was anonymous signed her name. I thought that was cute. Mom and I are still very proud of your selection and application to go to Ant. I guess you will be hearing from others in the not too distant future because we are continuing to tell everyone we meet where you are and how you got there. Love DOD

GSG said...