Last day in Tristan da Cunha

After 23 days in Tristan da Cunha, my vacation has come to an end. Helicopter flights start at 1:00 p.m. and I am on the fourth flight. Yesterday was memorable in that I was finally able to climb to the Base. The cliffs of the Base form the backdrop to every island photo. To some, it might appear as if the top of the Base is in fact the summit of the island’s volcano, but the peak of the volcano, Queen Mary’s Peak, is not visible from the settlement. One can see it from the top of the Base, or while on the water such as when I sailed to Nightingale Island last week.

Renée got a call yesterday at 6 a.m. informing her that weather conditions were just right, and on our last full day on Tristan we would finally be able to hike to the Base. We were to meet at the Hottentot bus shelter at 8 a.m.

I heard the phone call and knew that such an early call meant that an excursion was in the works. I came out of my room to get the news, and then told Renee that I would sleep until 6:45 then start to get ready. Those forty-five minutes were not spent sleeping, however, but lying awake in the excitement of finally being able to climb to the Base.

Because my time is limited here on my last morning in Tristan, I will only write that little bit about this hike. I understand from the visiting Agulhas scientists, who are on the island now after visiting Gough, that the Internet on board is still as awful as it was during the trip down here, so the rest of this story might have to wait until I get back to Cape Town. I will also upload photos to all my LiveJournal posts when I get to my hotel, where they have free Internet computers for those like me who don’t have a laptop.

Excerpts from the forthcoming hiking story:

Four hikers and two guides
Natural grassy switchbacks, sheep as high as the grass grew
Muddy climb up with ropes; as we neared the top of the Base all climbing was done by rope
“Moonwalking” down Red Sands, where I visited on my own two weeks ago, and reported that I could not climb this hill because the red sands offered no traction. Well we climbed it.
Seeing both Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands from the Base and being photographed between them
The snowy peak–all covered in snow, which explains why it is so cold on the island right now. I can see my own breath in my room
Yellow-nosed albatross nesting at the Base
Taking a ride back to the settlement in the back of the island’s only police truck

Good-bye from Tristan da Cunha!

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