Students on Ice | Natural Heritage Building | 1740 Chemin Pink | Gatineau QC J9J 3N7 | | 1-866-336-6423

Friday, December 30, 2011

SOI Headquarters
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Scroll down to read student journal entries and view photographs!

Remember to view the Expedition Videos page for new videos!

Expedition Update - 9:00pm EST

The students had a great day today. They enjoyed a beautiful hike to Laguna Esmeralda and boarded the expedition ship, M/V Ushuaia, at 4:30pm. They set sail soon after with everyone out on deck and a rainbow on the horizon! The good karma and excitement is overflowing. They are sailing east down the Beagle Channel tonight and should reach the Drake Passage early tomorrow morning, and then they are southbound for the last day of the year!! The expedition and adventure is officially underway!!

The education program was packed with presentations, workshops, pod meetings, discussions and a visit to Ushuaia.  They enjoyed a delicious asado (barbeque) dinner put on by hotel staff, followed by a photo slideshow by Mike Beedell and a musical wind-down by Tony Dekker of the Great Lake Swimmers.  There is no doubt that visions of Antarctic ice bergs and wildlife will dance in their heads as they drift off to sleep tonight!

Expedition Update - 9:00am EST

Hello! Expedition Leader, Geoff Green, and the team send greetings from rainy Ushuaia. They enjoyed a wonderful evening last night which concluded around 11pm with a few songs by Tony (Dekker). A good night's sleep and this morning everyone has just departed for a day hike to Laguna Esmeralda!

Today, we also wish Mike Petagumskum, from Kuujjuaq, a very happy 17th birthday! 

The schedule for December 30 is as follows:

0715: Wake up

0730 - 0830: Breakfast

0845: Group photo at Hotel Los Yamanas

0900: Depart for Laguna Esmeralda, a lake situated just outside of Ushuaia in the

          mountains.  Students will enjoy a hike up to the turquoise coloured and very   

          chilly mountain lake and on their way will be able to connect with and learn more

          about the flora and fauna that is native to this land.  At the lake, students will

          have a picnic lunch and might even take a plunge into the stunning, yet frigid


1530: Return to Ushuaia & last chance to visit and explore the town

1630: Transfer to the M/V Ushuaia and board the expedition vessel and our floating


1800: Set sail down the Beagle Channel!

1900: Dinner

2000: Safety briefing

2400: Begin our Drake Passage crossing! We are on our way to Antarctica at last.

Antarctic 2011 Expedition Team - Group Photo in Ushuaia

Creek flowing from Laguna Esmerelda

Hike to Laguna Esmerelda

Malaika Vaz hiking to Laguna Esmerelda

Andean Condor

Hiking to Laguna Esmerelda

Hiking to Laguna Esmerelda

Expedition Leader Geoff Green celebrating at the bow of M/V Ushuaia


Students Journals for December 30:


Camille Slack
Elora, Ontario, Canada

What an incredible couple of days! So much has happened already and we have just barely set sail. I have met a group of truly incredible people from every corner of the world and getting to know all of them has been wonderful. Just yesterday I spent the day speaking with one of our educators, Daniele, who speaks beautiful French and actually comes from a small town in France. Usually I do not use my French in day to day life but it was very exciting to get the opportunity to converse in a language that was not my first.

Today we went on a hike in the Andes. The beauty of the forests and the rivers was astounding and it took your breath away, if only for a moment, taking it all in. Myself and two of the other girls were amongst the only few brave enough to take a dip in the Lagona Esmeralda (a glacial lake formed between the mountains.) It is something I will always remember and I am so glad I did it! Mind you it was so cold I became short of breath and my hands and feet started to go numb. I am so pleased with everything we have done so far and I hope my adventure continues to get better and better as we sail towards our true destination...Antarctica!


Pamela Stevenson

Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Québec, Canada

Woke up at 7:30am this morning in Ushuaia, Argentina. We set sail from Ushuaia and it's our first night on the ship. Everyone had to participate in the escape plan to be prepared for an emergency. No luck for some sleep since the ship was rocking left to right all night and into the next day. It was so rough that our suitcases started flying around the little cabin!


Leah Davidson

Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

Growing up in a small town, it is easy to forget that a bigger world exists. During the past few days, from flying over the Andes to hiking for miles to the bluest, clearest body of water I have ever beheld (and getting stuck in mud too many times to count), I have constantly been reminded of how small I am in relation to this planet. I have met people from Germany, Sweden, Luxemburg, Iceland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and India and heard stories from a man who has traveled to Antarctica over 100 times. This expedition has brought together people from so many walks of life, from musicians and artists to university professors and scientists. As teenagers, the possibilities of how to use our interests to effect positive social change are truly endless. When sampling an Argentinean barbecue (I tried the lamb!), touring a beautiful cemetery in Buenos Aires, and riding down one of the widest avenues in South America, I get a real urge to experience everything and learn as much as I can. I am thrilled and humbled to meet passionate people of my own age who have voiced their opinions on town councils and organized events to advocate for environmental conservation. Earth is so massive, complex, and breathtaking. It is reassuring to enjoy such a capable network of people and to know that I am never alone.


Morgan Clark
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

These past few days have been a whirlwind of new smells, sights, friends and smiles!
Buenos Aires was amazing! Erica and I had changed into our PJ's for the long flight and by the time we arrived we really didn't have time to change. We can now officially say that we have walked around the city and cemetary of Buenos Aires in PJ's! Meeting everyone has been wonderful. I've been getting along great with all the educators and students. I've found that I have a lot in common with most of them! There is NEVER a dull moment on this trip! These past few days have been focused on brushing up on our knowledge of Antartica as well as getting to know each other. After a long hike we took off on our journey to Antartica this afternoon! Everyone was so excited to get going on this once in a lifetime opportunity! The boat is starting to sway a little bit but it's bearable! I'm not too worried about going through the "Drake Shake", although a "Drake Lake" would be pretty nice! I'm off to settle down for a nice sleep now so I can be full energy for all of the fun activites planned tomorrow! Much love to Mommy, Daddy, Milana, Grandma, Aunt S. and Uncle P., Uncle W., Kathy and everyone else supporting me on this trip! PUTV: I miss you guys!! xoxo


Serena Tansy Soucy
Fergus, Ontario, Canada

I met an incredible woman today! During the Student-Staff "Speed Dating" workshop - an exercise where 8 groups of students went around to different groups of 3 educators - I met this woman who at once reminded me of my Grandmaman. The moment she opened her mouth and spoke I recognized her French accent. Her name is Daniele. The sound of her speech truly made me yearn to speak French and really want to converse with her. It was such that later that day as we were heading to dinner, I spotted her ahead of me. I quickly caught up with her and spoke to her in French. It was so relieving and wonderful. At dinner I sat with Daniele, Camille, Susan and Hilmar and we all spoke French at dinner. it was such great fun. I hadn't been feeling great all day and so as we were talking, Daniele mentioned that she had some ginger root with her and she fetched it for me. After cutting it into small pieces, I was able to put it in my food so I could eat it without being overcome by the strong flavour. It worked wonders. Half an hour later, I felt so much better and totally forgot that I had been feeling nauseous. As Anne would say, "she is a kindred spirit". She is so lovely and an incredible person and I simply cannot wait to get to know her better. :)


Emilie Welles
New York City, New York, USA

Today we began our journey south to Antarctica. Before we boarded our floating home we streched our legs over 10 kilometres of the Andes mountain range in Tierra del Fuego. We all began in the same place, but as time went by the faster people went ahead and others took their time. I began walking with a very good friend that I met in Ushuaia and she was powering along. I began to lose my ground like a horse passing the halfway point on the track. I told her that I might not be able to make it the rest of the way and she turned around and yelled "no" at me. She was not going to let me fall or stay behind. We linked arms and drove onward and upward. The linking of our arms came in handy when she later slipped and almost indulged herself in an all-natural mud bath. I pulled her back up to stand beside me and for the first time, I began to feel a partnership. Since we first met in Miami and Buenos Aires, we have been introducing ourselves as members of different countries, provinces, states, cities, communities, and families. Now, we were together, we were one community, one town, one family. With everyone helping each other up the mountains we were finally a team, we were finally not Canadians or Americans, we were Students On Ice.


Zach Butler
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

Today we had the opportunity to hike in the Andes Mountains. We drove 20 minutes outside of Ushuaia and met at a cabin by the road towards the bottom of a mountain. We slipped on rubber boots, packed lunches, had a lesson on glaciology, and proceeded down through some woods. Within minutes we emerged in a valley 1/2 mile wide and maybe 5 miles long. It was a bog littered with streams, lakes, and beaver dams. We forged a path through the mud and grass, and it was like something from a movie. The sun lit the grass a beautiful golden color and glistened off the streams. The ice-capped mountains wrapped around the valley and provided a picturesque backdrop. When I think of the American pioneers of the 1800s pushing west towards the Rockies, this is the kind of place I picture them transversing. It was the kind of place you could build a cabin and live for the rest of your life. On the way back from the lagoon we took a different path but we had to cross the same bog, and it looked and felt like a completely different place. Different plants, no lake, no dams, not as spacious, and not lit with a golden fire.


Laurissa Christie
Tara, Ontario, Canada

What an incrediable day! Two of my goals on this expedition are to try something new every day and know everyone's name by the end of tomorrow. One of the highlights of today was hiking to the glacier lake called Laguna Esmerelda. It reminded me of a similar hike in the Arctic. The turcoise coloured water sparkled with the sun and I immediately tasted the water. Camille, Mary, and I jumped in. We were swimming in water that is millions of years old! In the afternoon we set sail for Antarctica. Words cannot describe how exciting it was to board the ship. We saw a beautiful rainbow over the Beagle Channel before we untied the ropes - a sign of good luck and things to come. A double rainbow appeared a few hours later. It was spectacular. The colours were very intense and shone onto the shores separating Argentina and Chile. I love all of the karma and great energy we have here! Tonight Emily and I presented the SOI cheer to the rest of the group. We practised and laughed for a long time on deck in the pouring rain drenched with sunlight before teaching the rest of the group which brought lots of laughs. I cannot believe I have known these people for just a few short days and already such deep friendships have formed.


© 2011 Students on Ice
All Rights Reserved

Natural Heritage Building
1740 chemin Pink
Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7