A Patriot’s Goodbye
I feel supremely happy. I can hardly sleep at all, my brain is racing so. ‘What a day it has been, what a rare mood I’m in. Surprisingly my body dictates to my mind and I’m soon asleep. However, several times throughout the night I wake up, full of confusion, dreams and reality mingling, so I don’t have any idea which is which. All I do know is that I have been to the South Pole and achieved one of my greatest ambitions. It was even more glorious than I could have ever dreamed it would be.
I try to sleep more but it proves impossible and I eventually get up around 11 a.m. I don’t feel like a late breakfast but everyone is still eating so I take an early and light lunch with Steve and Robert. Of course we only talk about the South Pole and I can share in some small way their own experiences. Ian is still nowhere to be seen and I envy his ability to sleep wherever he is and for such lengthy periods. Robert has to get back to Punta as soon as possible to rejoin his UNICEF ship and is anxious to carry out further training sessions with the young children on board.
Antarctica Travel Destinations Photo Gallery
Another Hercules is expected in the afternoon, this time with a very full contingent of travellers, some to go to the South Pole, others to attempt Mount Vinson, some just along for the ride and to experience the magic of the Antarctic. All the tents will be needed and everyone will have to double up. Therefore the plan is that Robert, Ian and myself will take the Hercules back when it returns to Punta; Hans and Christian will stay on to have another crack at getting to Vinson and anyhow they have their own tent. There is, however, plenty of time as the Hercules hasn’t left Punta yet and of course it will then take three hours to arrive. We should vacate our tents soon though so they can be tidied and prepared for the new arrivals.
I take a long stroll around the camp, sad that this is my last day here and I will be leaving soon. I then go over to wake Ian and suggest he gets something to eat and packs up. He’s not so keen on leaving as he has no commitments to rush home for and his plans are flexible. He thinks he could travel through some of the South American countries and that cheers him up and he promises to get ready. I go back to Byrd, probably for the last time, and start to pack. With all my purchases at the South Pole store there’s not enough room in my bags and I try to decide what to leave behind. I decide to donate my boots to the camp, to help any others who might want to ski but don’t have ski boots with them. They are not perfect but will do for someone who just wants to have some fun. Also a few sweatshirts that might come in useful. The straps of my long, white bag have broken and I tie it with some cords and will have to replace it when we get to Punta.
I carry my two bags back to the cook tent, only to learn that the Hercules still hasn’t left and as usual the weather is playing up. They don’t know when or if it will take off today. It means we could be here for another day or more. I’m not certain how I feel as I have committed myself to leaving and it’s unsettling not to know what’s happening. I always feel the same on every expedition. When it’s time to go, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed myself, no matter what I’ve learned and experienced, when it’s time it’s time.
Ian is eating something and is unperturbed, he still hasn’t packed and is quite happy to stay on.