December 04, 2012 – Mikkelsen Island/Enterprise Island, Antarctica
Posted on December 5th, 2012
Temperature: 41˚F (5˚C)
Wind Speed: 2 knots
Cloud Cover: 10%
“Indescribable” may be the only word one can muster to describe Antarctica. Once again, it amazed us as we woke and looked out our windows to find it more beautiful than it was just the day before.
Today’s stop was Mikkelsen Harbour and a tiny islet within. Dwarfed on all sides by Trinity Island, this location was used in the early 1900s as an anchorage for whaling vessels. Everywhere we looked there were scattered groupings of nesting gentoo penguins, some even giving us a peek at the cherished eggs they guarded so intently. Within a month, the eggs would be hatched.
When we arrived on shore, the Zodiacs had a clear run into our landing; by the time we were leaving, the ice had moved across and made the driving slow and difficult. The drivers had to be careful not to damage the boat propellers.
With our time coming to an end, we reluctantly boarded the Zodiacs and made our return to ‘Le Boreal.’ We needed to have a noon recap as well as finish lunch, all before getting off the ship again this afternoon!
As ‘Le Boreal’ slowed, one after another the Zodiacs began to be dropped into the water. Time was obviously not going to be wasted this afternoon. We had arrived at Enterprise Island, located in Wilhelmina Bay. Besides the stunning beauty before us, there was a hint of history to be had.
We boarded the Zodiacs and headed out into the bay. To the east, we saw the peninsula and the Forbidden Plateau with the tallest peak of the area, Mount Walker, reaching 7,709 feet.
Pushing through the ice, we returned to ‘Le Boreal’ just in time to hear the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, Mr. Geoffrey Kent give his talk on “50 Years of Inspiring Experiences.” On board to celebrate the 50th anniversary of A&K and his return to Antarctica after almost twenty years, we were privileged and honored to have the opportunity to hear about the beginnings of A&K, a company we have come to enjoy traveling with time and again.
Each night it has proven difficult to pull the curtains closed and to sleep with all this amazing scenery around us. However, tonight we would not be doing this so quickly; at 2300 hrs we would be entering the famed Lemaire Channel. Named by Adrien de Gerlache for Belgian Charles Lemaire who explored the Congo, it is a must-stop on any itinerary. Pushing through the ice of the Gerlache Strait, we spent time on deck soaking it all in with the Expedition Team.
With clear skies and the sun setting we were truly blessed to be experiencing something so magical. Making our way slowly we made it to the southern end just after midnight.
It had been a truly spectacular day we had experienced so much. Now it was time to rest our heads and see what the morning would bring.
– Chris Srigley, Naturalist