Friday, December 25, 2009
Overlooking McMurdo is Observation Hill...or Ob Hill
for short. It stands 750 feet above sea level and
provides a wonderful view of the surrounding area.
On this night however, I didn't climb Ob Hill...I
hiked around the base of it, on the Ob Hill Loop.
This is one of several fun hikes that make up the
Ross Island Trail System. At 3:00 in the morning
there are very few folks to share the trail with so
I found myself alone while making this interesting
Hiking around the base is a bit of a misnomer. In
most cases one walks across it, about halfway between
the summit and McMurdo Sound, far below. See the line
about halfway up in this photo? That's the trail. Not
a lot of room for error, especially since the trail is
less than a foot wide for most of it's length. When
I told Lynn afterwards that I hiked this trail by myself
(which is totally within the rules), she told me she was
glad she didn't know because she would have been a nervous
On the backside there is a small crater that holds a
tiny pond. I had no idea this was here before I saw it.
Most of the trail meanders a bit, with lots of switchbacks
to cover elevation rises and falls.
Although there isn't any life along the trail (Characteristic
of all of Ross Island), there were some areas that seemed
even more barren than others, containing thousands of
square feet of volcanic cinders.
From one point, one gets a great view of Scott Base,
seen on the edge of the Ice Shelf. The fog was pretty
heavy, making it feel very "Brigadoon-ish".
Along one section there were bleached penguin bones
scattered along the cinders. Skuas apparently take
their penguin prey here for dinner and only the bones
The wind does some weird and powerful things to the
rocks, causing strange formations.
I found it really interesting to see all of the
different colors that were present in the volcanic
rock that makes up Ob Hill.
I knew I had reached the end of the trail when I saw
the trail marker sign showing the beginning if coming
from the other direction.
It was a great hike. It was really really nice to have
complete silence away from town and even have my adreneline
flow a few times. Well worth the couple of hours to
commune with nature.