Retrieved from Traci and Tracy's Blog: t2can.wordpress.com
One aspect of our adventure was taking algae samples along our route. Ideally we would document and update our activities on this blog, but real-time updates were not an option. After the fact though, here are some photos and descriptions. Thank you to Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, for connecting us with Nicky Haigh and theHarmful Algae Monitoring Program at Vancouver Island University. Tracy managed to take over a dozen algae samples in our 840 miles of paddling, and I documented a few on film. Tracy diligently sampled and labeled the small blooms we encountered. We were both pleased that our algae encounters were rare as well as few and far between.
From my Journal August 9th, 2012
“I have been in the field for fifteen days, and it has not stopped raining. The algal bloom that started growing on my outdoor research shirt has now taken over and is visible throughout the majority of the fabric. Nothing is dry. The stench has grown so intolerable that I fight off gags as I put on my clothing each morning, and tell myself that the stinging in my eyes is normal. The weather report is calling for more rain, and my mood is falling with each drop that is testing my Big Agnes tent and making me resist the inevitable exit from its shelter.”
I have recently returned from an experience of a lifetime on West Chicagof Island in the Tongass National Forest. Working with Stanford University Ph.D candidate, Lauren Oakes, ASC is taking part in a study of the dying yellow-cedar forests of SE Alaska. What I saw in SE Alaska was shocking. These trees which are primarily harvested and utilized for their fine lumber are dead. In what is one of the most tangible results of a changing climate that I have witnessed, I spent the last three weeks amongst the scant remains of a once thriving forests. As winter snowpacks have diminished, the trees whose root systems are no longer protect by the snow have become vulnerable to wind and cold events that continue to hammer the rugged coast. The phenomenon has already started spreading to the north, and scientists and resource managers are fearful that the once prolific tree species will continue dying at extraordinary rates.
What Can ASC Add to Your Adventure Experience? Just Ask Avid Climber and New ASC Adventurer Dylan Jones
The Boulder Pass Trail in Glacier National Park. Photo Courtesy of Dylan Jones
As a traveling rock climber road tripping to America’s greatest climbing destinations, our ropes don’t often take us to areas where relevant data for ASC studies can be collected. Classic crags are developed, crowded, and show endless signs of wear and tear from homo erectus. Environmentally-sensitive areas and species are often off limits to the climbing community, and for good reason. When we hopped on board for the ASC Pika Project, we had expected to spot plenty of the sensitive little mammals in the many mountain ranges on our trip itinerary. My climbing partner and I left our home in West Virginia on June 1st, and, until recently, had been disappointed with our lack of data contribution. It was during a brief backpacking foray into the backcountry of Glacier National Park that we finally found, observed and recorded data to send into the office in Bozeman.
ASC Adventurer, Hari Mix escapes an alpinist's nightmare with quick thinking, experience, and a little luck.
I set off Tuesday morning for Somoni, formerly Peak Communism, the highest in the former Soviet Union. After breakfast, my friend Laurent from Luxembourg and I hiked a couple miles along the Walter glacier to advanced base camp. The way, much better worn than when I climbed Vorobiova a few weeks back, is still tricky…mostly rubble-hopping. Laurent then accompanied me part of the way across the glacier towards the infamous “Ramp,” a hanging glacier threatened by seracs above. We parted ways and I quickly put my crampons on and raced across to the base of a rotten rock buttress marking the bottom of the Borodkin spur.
I climbed steadily through the rotten rock, which at times became steep and fun scrambling. By early afternoon, I’d reached camp two, at 17,400 ft. From here, the route followed steady snow up a meandering ridge to 20,500 ft. Unfortunately, tracks from the large previous group were obscured, and fixed ropes were mostly buried. I plodded up variable snow, sometimes providing purchase, sometimes leaving me to plunge through. Though I was feeling relatively good, I knew the snow conditions weren’t going to allow me to reach the plateau at the top of the buttress, so I started hurrying to the 5800m (19,000 ft) camp before darkness fell. I made it to camp and quickly stomped out a tent platform before getting started melting snow and drying my boots.
The next day was surprisingly warm. By the time I finished packing up and boiling water, I was in just my base layer. Progress began impossibly slowly. I traversed to the right of some seracs, and had an incredibly frustrating time climbing a steeper section of absolutely bottomless snow. A few meters above, I reached the endless gentle slopes leading to the plateau. Unfortunately, the snow conditions were even worse. I took out the GPS and realized that I’d spent over two hours covering just 100m. After a few breaks, and some futile traverses across the broad rib looking for better snow, I decided to descend. I only had two more full days before I needed to be back in base camp, and the task ahead simply wasn’t a one-man job. I was just below 6000m. The route above meant crossing the almost certainly untracked and soft plateau, then the brutal slopes of Peak Dushanbe and the final stretch to the summit 1500m above. A huge team of over 10 had been thrashing up the mountain for nearly a week before me still without success. With little fanfare, I started back down the Borodkin.
BOOM! My head jerked to the right, expecting to see one of the huge seracs avalanching over the ramp. It really sounded like an explosion, but I knew better. Instantly, my other senses confirmed the obvious: several tons of ice and I were in free fall. The fall seemed to last forever. Every few meters, we would hit something, then continue collapsing. With each bump, I reassessed and changed strategy, somehow managing to stay mostly upright as I plunged deeper and deeper into darkness. Near the end of the ride, things took a big turn for the worse. Microwave-sized blocks of ice closed in on me, crushing first my legs and back, and then, my head. As we fell together, I fought, punching upwards with all my might. After an eternity, the motion stopped, and the ice closed in.
Read the latest blog post from this adventure kayak duo as they take a break from life on the water
Our landing in Ketchikan was so easy. Tracy has a friend Terry, who has not only opened his house to us, but he also made sure we were met with his car and kayak racks. So nice, after weeks of hauling our gear around! We got showered, laundered, fed, and a real bed. Today we have been lazy, organizing our gear, and took a trip out to Totem Bight (previously known as Mud Bight). Since we made such good time in our travels, we are arranging with Terry’s help to take the ferry to Sitka to see a little more of Alaska while we are here. This trip just keeps on unfolding as an amazing adventure. We won’t be done until we are back home in a week.
P.S. thank you Terry for your generous hospitality! And Levi for meeting us once we were through customs!
retrieved from: http://t2can.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/lazy-day-in-ketchikan/
Not all long-distance backpackers are obsessed with pack weight. But it takes an especially gullible one to carry coyote poop. That's me. Aspiring Continental Divide Trail thru-hiker and citizen scientist. Armed with a GPS, a dime baggie and a toothpick, I collect coyote samples along the way. The samples go into a larger Ziploc and, from towns along the trail, I mail them off to Javier Monson. Monson is a biologist at Stony Brook University. He specializes in wild canines, and he analyzes the DNA in the samples to compile data about coyote habits, diet, and movements. Ahem.
This means at any given time, in the side pocket of my Ultra Lite Adventures backpack, I'm carting a Ziploc full of poop. Yup. A few extra ounces in the name of science. It's no big deal, really, until I find myself explaining this odd pursuit to Sam-I-Am, a former Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and killer hairstylist. She owns a salon in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which is the the northern-most resupply point on the CDT before the Wyoming border. Sam-I-Am's response is, "Oh, honey."
It's worth it because for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation those samples are a steaming hot commodity. The information Monson can glean from them goes into a data bank to back multiple conservation efforts. Monson is curious to uncover evidence of coyote hybridization with other wild canines like wolves. Coyotes are so common in North America that most people dismiss them, but in the words of John Muir "when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." If the coyotes aren't eating well, is anyone else? Are coyotes being edged out in certain places by other wild canines? How do factors like elevation, remoteness, and location affect the robustness of a sample? Monson is looking for patterns, and in my small, gullible way, I am trying to help him.
Sometimes weeks pass before I collect a decent sample, one that isn't half-digested rodent hair in a neat little tube twisted off at the end. No. There's gotta be some meat to it. It must be fresh enough to contain the intestinal cells that hold the precious DNA.
I carry the poop, but I can't take all the credit. My hiking partner, Ratatouille (he's a chef), didn't even put up a fight when I announced to him what we'd be doing on our thru-hike of the Continental Divide this year. Instead, he takes notes while I read out GPS coordinates. Or he measures the length and width of each sample using my compass while I play secretary. Then one of us carves a wedge from the sample using a rock or a stick, spears it with a toothpick, and pops it into a dime baggie. The baggie gets labeled and, when Ratatouille and I reach town, into the mail it goes.
I hope I have the right address.
Sarah Holt thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008. She works seasonally for the National Park Service as a trails worker and part-time firefighter at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.
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