I had some breakfast and a coffee then went over to the emergency vehicle shelter and packed the remainder the equipment on the quad bike. There was no wind, -25c and a very cloudy overcast sky and by 0930 it was light enough to head off. Because of the cloud there was a white out and you could see no definition of the surface making it a bit dangerous as you couldn't see the sastrugi, tide cracks or ice lumps as we were riding along. The other hazard were our helmet visors icing up with condensation of our breath. Riding with the visor up was much better but you could only do this for a few minutes before you got a massive ice cream head ache and were forced to close it again.
The scenery was breath taking as we rode parallel and close to the plateau ice cliffs and wandered around huge ice bergs and Islands. Mostly the sea ice was nice and smooth with little snow but occasionally we would come across large areas of statrugi that was hell to ride over. Along the way we pulled up at a seal hole. All around was seal crap and some bits of flesh from his last meal. It was most likely a Weddell seal who spend the whole winter chewing the ice to keep the hole open. They usually die when they wear their teeth down. While I was taking a photo and messing about I though shit, I hope it's not a leaped seal !! They will eat humans. So we got the hell out of there.
After our break we continued on and not long after we came across Macey hut which in the great huge expanse was like finding a needle in a hay stack. The hut sits on Macey Island and the scene was some thing out of Alice in wonderland with huge ice bergs all around us. There is also a googlie or apple hut there as well. We went inside and boiled up some water for a quick cup of soup. In side was a barmy -30c and every thing was rock solid including the dish washing liquid. The gas bottle was leaking bad and the other one was empty so we concluded as the leak was out side we should be OK.
Half of the birds were sitting on eggs while the other half were either courting or wandering about looking for a mate. The mating courtship was fascinating to watch as they mimicked every move of the other, preened each other, rubbed each others belly or just hung out smooching and laying together. They really showed a lot off affection to each other.
The birds are huge and really fat and the plumage is magnificent. Their eggs are also huge and almost pointy at one end. While sitting at the regulation distance, they would waddle right up to us and sit there looking and some times squawking at us. After a while they would get bored with us and waddle off back to the mob. It was such a serene scene in such a baron desolate hostile location. It was all very quiet with the odd squawk and call and at the same time the ice bergs would creek and crack threatening to collapse at any moment. Mostly all the birds were very well behaved but every now and then a fight would break out and they would all squawk and peck each other. Also now and then a penguin would announce she is ready to mate and five or six birds would jump on top of her at the same time, it was so funny to watch them.
It was so cold I had to change the battery in my camera about every five to ten shots and replace it with a warm one from inside my glove. After about an hour and a half my camera started to shut down from the cold. The display would cease to function, then the auto focus would creak and grown and then lens would stop functioning and this was time to give it away. By this time we were starting to seize up as well.
Finally we got back to the hut very cold and in the dark. I turned on the gas and the leaking gas was now a hundred times worse and we couldn't the bottle so we had to hunt around for a full bottle. Out of the six bottles there was only one full one so in the dark and in minus thirty we had to disconnect it from the apple and drag it fifty meters back to the shack and then change it out with the leaking bottle. It was no easy exercise and we were both shot by the time we had finished. We went into the shack and lit candles and tried to get the heater and all the burners on the stove going to heat the place up. It was so cold we couldn't see through our breath. My balaclava had been frozen onto my face all day and when I took my helmet off I couldn't remove my balaclava as there was a mass of ice all through my beard. I tyred heating it for a while and got sick of it so I started to rip it off pulling all the hairs out of my face. It hurt like hell but I just wanted this damb thing off. Finally I got it off and it was full of hair embedded into the ice and it looked disgusting. I hung it over the heater along with my gloves to dry out.
While the hut was warming we opened a bottle of wine and it pored out like tomato source. It was so funny, we had to boil up two bottles of red wine, a bottle of port and the glass I just pored in a pot on the stove. It took ages just to get them to about five degrees and steam was coming off them as if they were boiling. As we slowly thawed out we had a great time chatting and cooking up a meal. We eventually started to melt all the ice out of the hut causing rain to fall and raising the temperature into the twenty's so we could finally remove our antarctic clothing. Suddenly we smelt some thing burning and we quickly started looking for a fire in the hut when I realised what had happened. The ice had melted out of my balaclava and the hair from my bead had fallen onto the heater and burnt. We laughed like hell. It was a fun night until the time came to climb into two sleeping bags fully dressed to try and get some shut eye. I find it so restrictive and claustrophobic but finally I fell asleep.