Another seven hours of sailing brought us to Deception Island, which I keep thinking is the name of a Leonardo di Caprio movie. It’s interesting how late we’ve been starting our hiking adventures. I suppose part of that is because it doesn’t get dark until midnight or after, if at all. We’ve been eating dinner at ten pm. You don’t need a night light to find the bathroom in the middle of the night, that’s for sure. It looks like 2 in the afternoon all the time.
Deception Island is a volcano that last erupted in 1970, chasing out the last British crew that was there. We sailed into a sunken crater, a perfect circle of lava rock and sand, snow and ice. We took the Zodiac to Pendulum Beach to see what Laura was talking about when she said we’d have a foot spa. There was steam coming from the sand at the shoreline, and the water right below it was hot. Tea Kettle hot.
We sat on the sand with our feet in the water, but couldn’t do it too long because it felt like we were scalding the skin off. Four of the group took a dive into the water. I passed, which is not like me, but I (correctly) figured that a Zodiac ride back to the boat was a long way off and despite the fact that I live in the mountains and keep vacationing in other countries’ winter, I don’t like to be cold. I stuck with the foot spa.
We also busted out Kubb. It’s a Norwegian Viking (redundant) lawn game of incredible skill and talent and intellect (I say this because Adam and I won the inaugural match). Laura’s parents taught Patrick, and many years later, me to play. I’m thinking this was the inaugural game for Deception Island.
Tonight, Chicken Biryani and Naan. Amazing food continues to be plentiful. I keep telling myself we’re burning a lot of calories keeping warm. No Weddell Seal!
We anchored inside the live volcano for the night. Slept like babies.
The next day (today) is a hiking day. We hiked to the top of one of the crater vents and saw a seal inside the crater. An Antarctic mystery as to how he got there. Not sure how he got there or how (or IF) he can get out. Or if he’s even alive. Very disturbing.
After a quick lunch, we headed out for our afternoon big hike, to a a colony of 40,000 Chinstrap Penguins. The colony was one of those hiking targets when you walk walk walk walk walk, but you don’t seem to get any closer. It was pretty challenging, lots of uphill, soft snow, alternating freezing and hot (go figure). We could smell the penguins first. It’s a fishy, poopy, birdy smell. Then you could hear them shouting. And finally, after about 3 and a half miles, we were there.
Chinstraps are my new favorite penguin (doesn’t everyone have one?). They weren’t the least bit interested in us, just waddling from here to there in their clumsy, determined penguin way. There were cute little babies with their parents, fat ones, skinny ones, ones who hilariously trip over their own feet and then pop back up. You know how it’s so funny to see someone trip? It’s even funnier seeing a penguin trip. They have a lot of fat to cushion the fall, so no penguins were harmed… I didn’t laugh right at them, but it was hard.
Adam, Katherine, and I hiked back in time to look around Whalers’ Bay. I couldn’t bear to spend much time there or take any pictures at all. This is where whalers brought thousands of whales to be processed for oil until the 1930s. It’s a killing field of innocents. A slaughterhouse. I have an active imagination, but it didn’t take much to visualize this place as a haunted, sorrowful beach of death. Another example of how greedy and thoughtless and cruel humans can be. Kill them until there are no more. I couldn’t get on the Zodiac fast enough.