We have completed our work here at Lake Obersee, accomplishing most all of our objectives despite a late start due to stormy weather.
Today we started repacking gear and preparing for our departure on Sunday the 15th. The dive gear has dried and is now packed away, and most of our science equipment (and samples) have been packed up as well. Tomorrow we will drop most of the tents leaving three up until just before we depart Sunday morning - given that the weather can change quickly its prudent to keep a small camp available until just before we leave. Its been a bit cloudy and breezy the last couple of days and the forecast for Saturday and Sunday calls for overcast skies, a risk of light snow and a bit of wind. All in all that is not too bad for the trip back. As long as we have good visibility we should make good time.
Tomorrow a tracked vehicle called Everest and two personnel from ALCI will traverse the ice-fields and after about a 10 hour drive they should arrive here at at Lake Obersee. Everest and the trailer it pulls should be able to carry all of our gear and equipment back to Novo in one trip and will not have trouble with the crevasses that litter the "road to Novolazarevskaya" as they do the smaller Toyota Hi-lux trucks; so this may be the way we move gear back and forth from now on, we shall see. Sunday morning, after we take down the remaining tents and pack the vehicle we will return to Novo. Three of us will drive the snowmobiles while the other two will return via Everest. If the weather is good and we have no problems on the road, the three of us on the snowmobiles should make it back in about 6 hours. Everest carries a lot but it is slower. Nevertheless, it will be nice to know that they are behind us in the event that we have problems with the snowmobiles.
Once back at Novo station we will move our gear back into storage and get ready for the flight back to Cape Town, which is scheduled to depart about 10:30 pm on the 20th. Its been an interesting and engaging field season and we have all enjoyed the work and the scenery. We will miss this place, but its time to get back home with the data and samples we have collected. There will be much to discuss once we have returned to the 'real world' so to speak. Next year we plan to return to Lake Untersee - there is much work left to do!
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