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Hiking Devil Island

Hiking in Antarctica
Hiking in Antarctica (Anna Zlotnicki)

This morning we were awakened far earlier than usual by the expedition leader announcing over the PA system that a pod of orcas had been spotted off the bow. Though it was barely 6am and the sun was just beginning to rise, most of us headed out onto the decks - some had thrown on the first clothes they touched, others had simply pulled boots and parkas on over their pajamas - and looked for orcas. Sure enough, we spotted several fins and blows, and we followed them south as the rising sun turned the glassy water gold. What a start to the day!
Incredible sunrise over the Weddell Sea
Incredible sunrise over the Weddell Sea (Anna Zlotnicki)

After breakfast, we all got dressed for our next adventure, a hike at Devil island. It did indeed look quite intimidating from the water, small but mountainous with a spear of stone at the summit. On the rocky beach, we were greeted by a handful of adelie penguins, as well as a fur seal. This was the first encounter with a seal on land - it was much larger than I expected! As I made my way up the beach from the landing site to the trail, I spotted a crabeater seal in the shallows, floating under an arching chunk of ice. 
A quiet moment on the beach to admire the ice
A quiet moment on the beach to admire the ice (Anna Zlotnicki)

The hike up the mountain was short, but very steep and on loose, fine scree over mud - not the most stable terrain. But the view was spectacular: the trail went up the spine of the island, and on the other side was another island, separated from this one by a narrow, glassy channel of water filled with ice. At the top of Devil Island, crossed flags marked the end of the trail, not that there was anywhere else to go: the trail went right along the highest ridge of the mountain, and ended at the highest point, with sheer drops on three sides. It was a warm, clear sunny day and the view was absolutely amazing in every direction.
Incredible views from our hike!
Incredible views from our hike! (Anna Zlotnicki)

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