Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

Posted at 1:00 pm, January 6th, 2004

Words are going to fail completely in trying to describe this morning’s experience, but here goes anyways: imagine rugged mountain peaks with glaciers flowing from the valleys out onto a seaside plain. A few tiny streams traverse the terrain, and small, tussock-covered hills are also scattered about. Now add to this scene 250,000 king penguins, around a thousand fur seals, and assorted elephant seals, skuas, giant petrels, and other birds. It was tremendous — birds literally as far as the eye could see, most of which were brilliantly colored king penguins that stood almost three feet high. The birds weren’t oblivious to our presence, but by moving slowly they were willing to accept our being there. Part of the magic for me came from trying to move around in a calm enough manner that I could pass within a foot or so of a bird without evoking a reaction.

At the start of the day we didn’t know if the winds would prevent us from landing, but after waiting an hour things had calmed dramatically. Snow was still flying in the air, but even that cleared up and by mid-morning we had sun and warm temperatures. I roamed far and wide, at one point finding myself up on a hill with Rod and Matt and a sea of penguins spread out below. I got so distracted that I left my camera bag and backpack on the hill, and now owe Rod a bottle of scotch for retrieving it. I didn’t think South Georgia could live up to what others had described, but if today is an indication it will far exceed my highest expectations.

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