These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale...We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. For God's sake, look after our people.--Robert F. Scott in has last letter to his wife who was rumored to be having an affair with a Norwegian explorer while her husband was freezing to death at the South Pole
What you see above is not the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) galley rations, 'though there are good things to be said for biscuits, oatmeal, cabbage, Golden Syrup and pickled onions. This the shelf inside the hut at Cape Evans on the beachfront of Ross Island off the Antarctic continent--intact as Robert Falcon Scott left it on his fateful trek to and from the South Pole in 1913.
We've been a little stuck here ourselves. The Basler plane that is to carry us from the edge of the continent to the interior has been grounded due to inclement weather. Three days running we have risen at 6am, run out to the shuttle with our orange-issue bag full of two weeks of stuff (suitcases to follow later since the Basler can only take 4,000 pounds), and found a little handwritten note on the manifest saying "24 Hour Delay".
The good news--the very nice Recreation Department at McMurdo Station organized a couple of ginormous Delta trucks to haul us newbies two hours away to the other side of the island to visit Scott Hut, 77°38′S, 166°24′E, at the glacier tongue on Erebus Bay beneath Mount Erebus, an actively smoking volcano.
On the way we were enthralled and ridiculously charmed by seven Emperor Penguins who waddled over to see who and what the heck we were. This does not happen every day...and even the grizzliest of mountain men in our troop were reduced to gushing schoolgirls. The birds really do look like elderly waiters about to serve a good cocktail.
Back to Scott: the son of an English brewer and magistrate, he joined the navy at 13 years old. In his early thirties he made his first expedition to the Antarctic, 1901-1904. The second fateful one turned into a race to the Pole, from 1910-1913, which he lost to Norwegian explorer Amundsen.
Scott and his team froze to death on the way back from the Pole in 1913, leaving their Cape Evans hut exactly as it was for posterity, complete with leashed dog carcasses lying around the building and jars and cans of uneaten food. (On top of a blizzard and the frostbite that came with it, hunger was an issue as poor Scott had miscalculated the calorie count for his men, assigning around 4000 calories per day on the trek, when actually they needed more than 7000.)
Around this post, some photos of English food circa 1913, and the kitchen wares, including a Chinese vase and serving dish found on the dining table in the center of the hut.
The photo of the teacups and the 100 year old penguin eggs below are both by Carla Appel.
This photo of 100 year old penguin eggs collected by Scott's team was taken by Carla Appel.