All of the surveying in November was done on foot, and all of the samples collected in January were fetched and carried on foot. In November hiking through the valleys was necessary to see the landscape up close and to check that the maps produced by GIS and satellite imagery were correct. In January, there was no other way to get our samples back to camp, except to put them in our packs and walk them back! While hiking certainly impacts the fragile Dry Valley environment, short of having jet packs (a suggestion we think Antarctica New Zealand should consider), it was the most environmentally friendly and practical option for transporting people and soil. Using helicopters for collecting the 450+ samples we needed would have been wasteful, expensive, and difficult. Plus hiking kept us from getting too overweight from eating lots of bacon and hash browns.
Because we walked tens of kilometres every day, sometimes over very rocky and icy terrain, it was important to have good boots that we had broken in before going into the field. (The boots Antarctica New Zealand provided us were very warm, with extremely thick soles, but incredibly heavy and not suitable for covering long distances in. We used those boots in camp.) Most people wore full leather boots because they provided good ankle support and some protection from the cold, although our toes were always frozen when starting out from camp in the morning. Mike B., however, used a pair of mountaineering boots, which had a plastic shell on the outside and a warm foam lining, which he preferred from his days climbing mountains in Europe.