So what does an Asgard Ranger do all day?
A typical day goes something like this: We wake up to find the sun in a relatively similar place as when we went to bed…something that seems less and less strange as time goes by. Before we do anything, our first order of business in the morning is checking in with “Mac-Ops”, which is the communications headquarters of Antarctica. If we do not check in by a certain time every morning, a search party will be sent for us. If it is a false alarm, there will be some folks unhappy with the Stream Team. After we check in, the next order of business is coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And then perhaps breakfast while we check our email. We have a small hut at each camp that is constantly heated with propane so that we always have liquid water available to us, as well as a place to put things that cannot freeze. In this hut we also have an oven, where breakfast goes from being a dream to reality.
Depending on where we are and what needs to get done dictates what happens next, but generally it involves getting picked up by a helicopter and delivered to a stream, where we take samples, make measurements, and check equipment. If the stream sites are relatively close, we may take the ATV over the lake ice, or simply walk. When we are done, the helicopter comes back and returns us to camp, where we make dinner, process samples, and if there is time, play a round of cards or a quick game of Settlers of Catan. But, usually it is just processing samples.
There are also a number of chores that have to be done around camp to keep things in good order. Since all waste must be collected and sent off the continent to process, including human waste, a fair amount of time is spent keeping things from piling up. For example, the “poo bucket” (which is really just a 5-gallon bucket) needs to be changed, along with the “pee barrel” which is a 55-gallon drum fitted with a funnel. At Lake Hoare, there is a rocket toilet that burns the poo, which is way cooler than putting it in a bucket.
Water collection is a near daily task, and is done differently at different parts of the summer and at different camps. When the lake is still frozen, we may take an ATV over the ice to the nearest glacier. Over the winter the glaciers calve onto the ice, making for nice big blocks of ice that we can then load into a sled take back to camp. We call these “glacier berries,” and drop them off at the “berry patch” at the end of the lake. At F6 and Lake Bonney, the glacier is too far away for this to be a fruitful endeavor, so we generally chip at the lake ice with a chipper and melt the resulting flakes. Once the lake has melted around the edges and the streams begin to flow, making water is as easy as…well…filling a bucket with water.