If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Although conditions prevented us from landing in Gold Harbor upon our first attempt, we didn’t accept defeat, and today we achieved this glorious landing! Many of us woke up as early as 5:30 a.m. to make it on land within the narrow weather window we were granted, and it was certainly worth the effort. We were greeted by curious fur seal pups, and we watched male elephant seals joust on the beach. We gazed out over thousands of king penguins, taking in the cacophony before us. We tested our ability to distinguish male and female penguin calls, calculated the angle of their rearend projectiles, and kept our eyes and ears alert in search of fluffy brown oakum chicks. When it began to rain, we remained unphased, totally absorbed in the beauty before us.
In the afternoon, the sun reappeared in full force to drop golden rays on the towering glacial cirques and bright green, tussock grass-covered hillsides of Fortuna Bay. The most determined among us braved the infamous South Georgia winds and williwaws on hikes to overlook the glittering lakes and bay below. The rest of us admired the bay by Zodiac, stopping to appreciate kelp fronds and cascading waterfalls. We observed remnants of whaling operations from the early 1900s–rusted, hidden in the grass, and resting in the foreground of hills once traversed by Shackleton and his men on his famous journey across the island. Tomorrow we will have the rare chance to walk in their footsteps, covering the final stretch of their journey between Shackleton waterfall and Stromness whaling station.