A Poet in the Antarctic

Guess what? I'm going to Antarctica!

 Map courtesy of the United States Antarctic Program.

Map courtesy of the United States Antarctic Program.

Photo credits: Hunter Davis; Larry Waisanen; Eric Barnes

When I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska a few years ago, one Sunday night, the father of my partner at the time gathered us in the basement and he showed us a slideshow from when he and his wife lived and worked in Antarctica in the 1970s.

I've been fascinated with the arctic and antarctic regions since I was a young child. (Blame Balto and Jack London, perhaps.)  When I saw the grainy images from that slideshow, I made up my mind:

I'm not sure how, but I'm going to Antarctica.

Amazingly, I've been selected as a participant in the Antarctic Artists & Writers Program through the NSF (National Science Foundation)!

In mid-October, I'll fly from Seattle to New Zealand (by way of LAX) and deploy to McMurdo Station around November 1st! You can see my route on this map.

Here is my itinerary:

  • 10/19-10/28: I’ll be traveling via a rental car around the south island of New Zealand.

  • 10/29-11/28: I’ll be living and working in McMurdo in Antartica, including trips into the field to Lake Hoare (see video) and the Ross Island historic huts, including Scott’s Hut and Shackleton’s Hut.

Video copyright: Jamie Lyon

I’ll try to post regular updates and pictures.

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For now, I thought I’d answer some questions I’ve already gotten:

Why are you doing this, Caitlin?

I try to take most opportunities to go anywhere. Antarctica is a place most people won’t ever get to experiences, so I want to share what I learn. I’ve always been drawn to cold, remote, or “wild” places (check out this great essay on the concept of wilderness). I think we can learn a lot about ourselves in those places and a lot about our impact on the earth.

What are you writing about?

Read more about my proposal here.

Who owns Antarctica?

No one. Antarctica is devoted to peace and science. Prospecting for resources is not allowed. The Treaty prohibits countries from doing things that might disrupt the habitats, including mining, military activities, and nuclear testing/waste.

What sort of animals are there?

No polar bears. Lots of sea life and birds, especially penguins, and microbial life.

How cold is it?

I’ll be arriving at the beginning of the Antarctic summer. This is the forecast for my first week.

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Stay tuned for more!


Want to follow my adventures

while i'm down there?