Posted by: sioglac | Dec 24, 2012

Strategic Packing

The field season is upon us. Here’s what it takes this year for me to get to the Whillans Ice Stream: (Dec 18, 2012) San Diego to Denver to Chicago to Los Angeles to Auckland, NZ to Christchurch, NZ to McMurdo Station, Antartica to SLW Landing Site (tentatively Jan 2, 2013). And then back in February.

Quite a bit of traveling over 2 months to quite a few different climates. All this with 2 bags and a backpack so packing strategy is something I have to keep in mind, generally. But right now, while preparing my bags for the 4 day trip to McMurdo, packing strategy is front and center. If you read my blog last year, you already have some idea why. For the new folks (like me last year!): 

Trying on our ECW clothing issued at the CDC last year in Chistchurch

Trying on our ECW clothing issued at the CDC last year in Chistchurch

Upon arrival at the Christchurch Airport, we have the option to throw a bag on a truck that goes straight to the Clothing Distribution Center (or CDC as we like to call it. There will be no shortage of 3 letter acronyms in the coming weeks). The CDC is the center of the world for participants in the US Antarctic Program. Over our two wonderful days in Christchurch, we will have our paperwork processed, flu shots administered, extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing issued, and board our “ice flight” all at the CDC. Throwing a bag on a truck that goes straight to the CDC is fantastically efficient way of dealing with some of your bulky luggage.

But if you plan poorly, you end up feeling like an idiot, doing things like walking around in a cool, rainy Christchurch with no jacket. Or having to go for a run in in knee socks that you just wore flying halfway around the world.

That’s just half of trip though. At ECW gear issue, you can check your bags and not touch them until McMurdo. This makes life extremely easy. If you plan right of course. For the flight from Christchurch to McMurdo, you are required to wear your ECW in case of emergency. And then after you land in McMurdo, you likely will be without all bags until late afternoon. And hanging out in relatively warm (~25-30F) McMurdo in clothing meant for -50F is no fun. So having some normal “town” clothes in your carry-on is a nice touch for comfort.

If that explanation is too long, here’s the summary: figuring out which clothes to put where is confusing. If I put my ducks in a row right now, I can pack one bag that I check in Chicago and barely touch until the evening I arrive in McMurdo. But in the other bag, I need to have clothes for international travel, a few days in a Christchurch summer, and warm-ish clothes for a day in McMurdo.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about for the past few hours. Now to execute the plan in my head.

At the CDC in Christchurch, giant penguins will help your children cross the street. Or maybe normal-sized penguins and very tiny children.

At the CDC in Christchurch, giant penguins will help your children cross the street. Or maybe normal-sized penguins will help very tiny children. Either way, it’s a magical place.

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