by Barbara Burger, Technische Universitaet Muenchen
The first trail party to Camp 18 (Kate, Newt, Ben, Mariah, Hannah, Mike and I) arrived after a long day in a whiteout with the first snowfall of the trip. It was very windy and rainy, but the view from camp was amazing. We skied down the hill to the camp and saw the big icefall of the Vaughan Lewis Glacier on the left and the amazing Gilkey Trench in front of us. The Gilkey Glacier has beautiful alternating wave crests called ogives that appear as dark and light bands of ice. When I saw the view for the first time, I knew that Camp 18 would be my favorite camp of the icefield.
After we put our backpacks into the sleeping areas and changed out of our wet clothes, we went into the cook shack, where we were in for a big surprise. Imagine all the chaos a few mice and rats can create during the year the camp is not occupied. The rats destroyed some food packages and chewed through an important part of the stove, which delayed dinner. Luckily, Ben and Newt repaired the stove very quickly, but while they were occupied we started sweeping the cook shack. The next two days would be filled with similar activities: we swept all the buildings, washed all the dishes (plates, pans, and pots - it took us one entire day), bleached all the shelves, sorted and organized the food from previous years, and unpacked the books in the Benstitute (the library building that Ben Partan built).
After the first day, we got help from Jon, Jenny and Gillian, who did the traverse from Camp 9. It was a lot of hard work to clean everything, but it gave me a new perspective on our camps. It was good to see in person how much work goes into opening a camp - I now appreciate more than ever how nice and clean our camps are when the majority of people arrive. Of course, we also had a lot of fun during the cleaning days. We were a really fun group and had plenty of free time to cook together (on one day we had crepes, cinnamon rolls, homemade bread and pizza), sit next to the wood stove and talk, or just look at the amazing scenery outside.