Thursday, December 1, 2016: Antarctica-Deception Island-Hiking the Caldera
Today was another interesting day. Early this morning (about 7:30) we sailed into Telefon Bay at Deception Island. Deception Island was created by a series of volcanoes erupting over the last few thousand years, the latest being in the 1970s. The main caldera is filled with water and, of course, is surrounded by the rims of the volcanoes. It only has a narrow opening from the caldera to the open sea, with very calm water inside the caldera. It was through this narrow opening that we sailed early this morning to enter.
Deep in under the surface, this is still an active volcanic area as evidenced by the steam we can see seeping from the ground along the beach when we do a landing. Of course, this is the most southern part of the chain of mountains that start far north in Alaska with the Alaska Mountain range. The continuation south is then the Canadian Rockies, the U.S. Rockies and continues through Mexico and Central America before becoming the Andes Mountains the entire length of South America and finally the Antarctic Peninsula.
When we land, there are Penguins on the beach waiting to greet us. The plan is to hike up to the top of the volcanoes’ rims for the beautiful views from there. Today there is no hiking on snow and ice, but instead, it’s on volcanic rock and gravel. When we look at the stones below our feet, there are all kinds of colors and textures of rock, depending on what volcanic explosion it came from. We grabbed our walking sticks (compliments of Hurtigruten) and started up the side of the volcano.
It was a fairly long and steep climb, so even though it was near freezing we worked up a sweat. At one point Lana was feeling a sugar low and could use something to eat. Now one of the rules in Antarctica is that there is NO food brought onto shore, so we had nothing with us. So Lana asks one of the ship’s exploration team that was stationed along the way and he pulled out a granola bar, gave it to her and said: “don’t tell anyone”. They provide them to the staff in case they get stuck on land from bad weather, etc.
It was a great day for hiking and as we looked down at the various volcanoes’ calderas, we could help but think of how fortunate we are to be able to experience places like this.