[Location: Neko Harbour].
After the incredible encounter at Jougla Point, we sailed through Neumayer Channel to to Neko Harbour, where there were active glaciers calving. The highlight there, of course, was the hike up what seemed like an impossible mountain. I have never seen anything like it– the entire slope was at first glance covered by snow but when you took a closer look you realize it’s all small lumps of ice! I felt like I was walking on a huge pile of transparent Nerd Candy.
The Neko landing was, for personal reasons stated in the previous entry, my favourite place in Antarctica thus far. When you climbed to the very top, you could perch on a rock outcrop and take in all that was around you. Once every so often a piece of glacier would separate from the rest, cutting the absolute silence with a booming crescendo. The ice would crash into the placid waters, sending a mini tsunami that fanned out into the mirror-like sea. We also witnessed a terrific avalanche that sounded like the very belly of the mountain was growling.
I could’ve stayed up there on the mountain forever, had that been an option. But all too soon we had to get back on board for dinner. As a reward for our efforts going uphill, we slid down the massive slope a la Paradise Bay– except this time round it was legitimately terrifying because there was a massive vertical drop that you couldn’t see ahead of time. Before you even realize what hit you, you are either crashing through the ice like a human spinning top or, worse yet, tumbling downhill head first which, as you can imagine, is painful on ice. In my panic after the vertical drop, I dug my elbow and fingers into the ice to try to slow down. Even through the gloves, the pain of the stinging ice from those brief seconds of contact could be felt for the better half of an hour afterwards.
Back on board the Orlova, we celebrated our third day of hard work with a barbeque out on the ship deck, right in the middle of all the glaciers. There is just nothing quite like downing good food and wine when you are the sole ship in a breathtaking glacial bay.
During the BBQ, Julian, one of our (more sane and reassuring) zodiac drivers even showcased his impressive juggling skills! How one practices juggling on a ship like the Orlova is beyond me.
After the important business of filling stomachs had been wholly addressed, we set sail once more through the Neumayer Channel, spotting a humpback whale and some minkes. At the risk of sounding repetitive, they are truly magnificent. It’s such a cliché, but there is something inherently awespiring to witness that moment when a humpback flips its tail in mid air.
I love my life.