3 January 2011

South Georgia - Stromness

I am dressed and ready to board the zodiac for a landing in the morning but our excursion is cancelled due to gale force winds!  As we are dressed for the outdoors, Leah and I spend the morning up on the top deck, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the amazing views of South Georgia. 

2010 12 22 South Georgia - Hiking StromnessWe sail pass stark mountains with glacial ice and waterfalls of melting snow.  The air is so refreshing and invigorating in this part of the world and if you are dressed right, you can enjoy the beauty despite the cold. 

JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Hiking StormnessAt times the winds are so strong, we need to hold on tight to the railings to avoid being blown over.  It is incredible to experience the power of nature, in the comfort & safety of our expedition ship and we reflect on the journeys of men such as Shakelton through these parts and marvel at their courage, their sense of adventure and their will to survive. 

2010 12 22 South Georgia - Hiking Stromness1After the disappointment of this morning we are glad to hear we can land at Stromness in the afternoon.  Stromness is the whaling station Shakelton came to, after his epic crossing of the 1800m range of South Georgia, after landing on the opposite side of the island in the life boat James Caird. 

JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-58 He was in search of help for his men on Endurance, which had been ice bound!  It was the first time South Georgia had been crossed.   

The whaling station is out of bounds but we see it off in the distance.  Staff from the JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-73expedition team ward off aggressive fur seals as we make the landing and walk to our briefing area.  There are 2 hikes on offer today.  The first is a hike to a waterfall, which Angela and I decide to do.  The second walk will be more challenging and will be the last part of Shakelton’s crossing of the mountains of South Georgia, which Leah joins.

JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-67

It is such a privilege to be in a place so pristine, so wild and free.  In addition to the fur seals. there are elephant seals, king and gentoo penguins. As we hike, we notice there are reindeer grazing in the valley and I am reminded it is 3 days to Christmas.  There are no signs of Christmas in these parts..although..is that Rudolph hiding out in the herd? 

JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-89We cross a bubbling stream along the way to the waterfall and are thankful for our waterproof wellington boots.  You would not survive for very long in this climate if you were not dressed appropriately. 

2010 12 22 South Georgia - Hiking Stromness2The waterfall is mesmerising and we sit and watch the water tumbling down the hillside for what seems like ages.   I am glad we are able to appreciate and experience this landscape close up. JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-96 South Georgia is one of the most spectacular places on earth and I  now understand why Graham said it was his favourite place on the planet!

JPEGS 2010 12 22 South Georgia - Stromness-74 “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are probably right”

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