Antarctica: Retracing Shackleton's Journey travel blog


Saturday, February 7

Day 11

King Haakon Bay: Peggotty Bluff & Cape Rosa

We woke up to stormy, rainy weather and prepared ourselves for the worst. This was a Shackelton day, where we would visit Cape Rosa, where he and his five crew first touched land after 16 days on the Scotia Sea. After making repairs to their boat, The James Caird, they sailed farther into Haakon Bay and made camp at Peggotty Bluff. From there, Shackelton took two men, Worsley and Crean, to hike across the unexplored mountains of South Georgia in search of one of the whaling stations.

We would visit Haakon Bay in reverse order from Shackelton, starting first at Peggotty Bluff where we were given the option of either a long hike (3-4 miles into the hills and through glacial runoff) or a milder “photographic” walk. We chose the latter, but our photographer leader took us at a fast clip up a rocky hill for an admittedly gorgeous view. It’s just that he never once looked over his shoulder to see how many of us were actually following him, and he seemed to blame us for not keeping up with him. Fortunately, the “sweep” at the end was Tim Laman, the National Geographic photographer who is a very patient man and would certainly have helped if any of us had needed it. But we all did make it and we even found an easier way down, along the spongy, tundra-like moss that gave a firmer grip on the steeper parts.

In the late afternoon, we sailed to Cape Rosa and found Cave Cove, where Shackelton landed The James Caird. The story is that the crew lost the rudder of the lifeboat as they were entering the bay, but made it into the little cove anyway. Miraculously, when the tide came in, so did the rudder, and the men were able to fasten it, good as new. Today, there is a little plaque in Cave Cove, left there by the Irish expedition South Aris in 1997.

Our zodiac driver, Doug Gould, got us in some great spots for birding. We saw Skuas, a Wandering Albatross, Arctic (or Antarctic) terns, and a pair of Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. One of the Albatross was sitting on a shallow perch on the cliff, and its mate made about ten passes before it actually landed. Beautiful, graceful gliding albatross, with a wing-span of 6 1/2 feet.



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