As we lower down and splash into the rolling water, I feel a child-like sense of joy. This is fun! Especially today—the sunshine is righteous. When I went out in this boat three days ago, I wore my fleece and soft shell jacket. Now, after so many cool gray days, it finally feels like summer. We zoom away from the ship and I relish the sensation of hard wind in my face and the sight of sunlight twinkling on the water's surface.Read More
I’m exhausted. Hauling boxes and bags is fine, but the mental fortitude required to go through everything I’ve ever owned necessitates a different kind of strength.
"Today is Sibling Day!" I shake my head in disbelief. "We forgot again!"
Austin and I are closer than most siblings I know, but we almost always forget to mark "Sibling Day" on our calendars. More often than not, we happen to be together on April 10th, doing something awesome.
I didn't take a photo at that moment, but if I had, it would have captured the identical grins on our faces.
Throughout our time in Antarctica, I never felt homesick. I never wished I wasn’t there. But I did spend a few nights tossing and turning—either from the lurching of the ship or the turbulence of my own mind.
In those moments, as I squirmed around in the small bunk, I allowed my thoughts to drift to my "happy place"—not my bed, not my house in Chapel Hill—but my little orange tent, the Creamsicle.
Now, as I pull my sleeping bag up to my face and breathe in the cold, crisp mountain air, I can't believe I'm finally here.Read More
I stop by Zee's office, give her a huge hug, and tell her I'm working on some plans. I don't know exactly how or when, but I know— in my mind, in my heart, in my gut — I'm coming back here.
"Marley, it's been such a pleasure meeting you," Zee says warmly. "You know what you have to do now, right?"
She looks at me intently, taking in my boundless energy and eagerness.
"Keep it alive," she says. "I know you'll be back down here. Just keep it alive."Read More
"This place works almost as a natural selection for people that have this intention to jump off the margin of the map, and we all meet here – where all the lines of the map converge.
I think a fair amount of the population here are full-time travelers and part time workers. They are the professional dreamers."Read More
Widely regarded by scientists as one of the iciest places on the planet, the Weddell Sea is perhaps best known for trapping Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, in 1914. When I read Alfred Lansing's book about that doomed expedition, and the incredible fight for survival that followed, I loved the gripping descriptions and vivid details.
But I have an entirely newfound appreciation for that epic story now. No wonder they got stuck here.Read More
After months and months of planning, and weeks of transit, it feels good to finally get to work. The eight people on our team, plus the marine technicians and the LMG crew, work together seamlessly, and I find it invigorating to document how all the pieces come together - the easy radio communications between the bridge and the back deck and the boats, the joy of the marine technicians when they see whales up close, and the tangible excitement of the PhD students on board.Read More
It's a classic question: if you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you bring with you?
For five people spending 12 days on a rocky, icy strip of land at the bottom of the world, the answer is this: over 2,000 pounds of stuff — food, water, tents, clothing, scientific equipment, tools, and other supplies.Read More
The freezing wind whips my face as I try to fully grasp where I am. Exactly one week ago, I was boarding a plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Now I’m less than five miles from Palmer Station, Antarctica. It still doesn’t feel real.Read More
“I’m glad I'm not nauseous— but I’m exhausted. I’ve been fighting to stay awake all day.”
Dave nods knowingly, surveying the bags under my eyes.
“Sea sickness can present itself in different forms,” he says. “Sometimes it’s nausea. Sometimes it’s general fatigue.”
“You should rest up,” he says, patting me on the back.Read More
Three flights, four airports, 30 hours, and 6,170 miles down. Another 637 miles (and a couple long days at sea) to go before we reach Antarctica. But first we have 48 hours in Chile's most southern city, Punta Arenas.Read More
No matter how much planning and preparation goes into it, there are no guarantees on an expedition. Despite all the reading and research I've done, the only thing that can truly prepare me for Antarctica is Antarctica.
Still, for posterity's sake, I'm going to make a few predictions about what might happen during the next six weeks. If nothing else, it will be fun to read this post at the end of the trip (or years from now.)
Okay here we go.
I, Mary Lide Parker, believe the following will occur during my first expedition to Antarctica:Read More
From student to alumnus to staff member — I have a resume that might as well be printed in Carolina blue ink. This university connected me to inspiring people, sent me to exotic far-away places, and introduced me to experiences that forced me to become a more intrepid, independent and resilient person.
On the last day of 2017, at a trailhead deep in the Black Mountains, the temperature hovers right around 20 degrees. We have a big crew - 10 people bundled up in all the warm clothing they own. Armed with snacks, hand warmers, a thermos of tea, and a flask of bourbon, we're preparing to do a nine mile hike with over 6,000 feet of elevation change in temperatures that will only decrease as we climb higher.Read More
We're heading to Laughing Bird Caye, the only marine area in Belize designated as a national park. When it comes to coral reef conservation, death and despair tend to dominate the headlines. But Laughing Bird is a success story, thanks in part to the hard-working folks at Fragments of Hope and other local people who care deeply about preserving the Belize Barrier Reef. In the 10 days we've spent here, one thing has been made abundantly clear - the locals have great pride (and concern) for the natural environment.Read More
The Belize coastline extends roughly 240 miles and includes hundreds of small islands and cayes, but our journey today is short. Twenty minutes after leaving the dock, we arrive at False Caye.
The water here is shallow - no more than 15 feet at the deepest part. We leave our scuba gear in the boat and jump in with snorkels and plastic bins. I am immediately blown away by the abundance of life - the color and variety of shapes and sizes of organisms here is unlike anything I've seen underwater.Read More
Weighing in at just 8,867 square miles, one might consider Belize a light-weight country. It is roughly the size of Massachusetts - or one sixth the size of North Carolina. Yet this small, coastal nation boasts some of the most striking biological diversity in this part of the world, including 80% of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef - the largest reef in the northern hemisphere.
I'm not aware of any of these facts as I cram myself and my camera bags into a van outside the Belize City airport.Read More
As we make our way down the trail from the parking lot into the main area at Stone Fort, the crunch of twigs snapping under our approach shoes and the soft thump of our crash pads hitting the ground generate the only sounds in the still morning. This crag - one of the most renown in the southeast - is blissfully empty. After navigating through crowds of people here yesterday, it is a welcome sight to look around and see only clean rock and empty trails. More people will come later, but for now, Theresa, Joy, and I bask in the small glory of having an epic boulder field all to ourselves.Read More
When Haas and I inquire about backcountry camping, the male park ranger raises his eyebrows with a quizzical expression. His partner tuts disapprovingly. "No way," she says. "There is way too much snow up there."
"Do you have snowshoes?" he asks.
Jon shakes his head. We patiently listen as the rangers explain how we can try to make our way up towards Watchman Overlook, but we probably won't get far without snowshoes.
Jon and I are feeling fairly confident in our abilities on snowy terrain - at this time yesterday morning we were drinking celebratory beers in the parking lot of Timberline Lodge, having reached the summit of Mt. Hood about three hours earlier. We convince the rangers to issue us a backcountry camping permit, and they reluctantly hand it over.Read More