On our return from the terminus, the clock began ticking once again with deadlines. Kristin, Turner and I need to be in Kaktovik by July 1, and a lot of preparations are needed before we leave: we have to pack for a week at the terminus doing stream work, a several day hike to our airstrip on the tundra, for two weeks in Kaktovik, for a one week trip to Colorado after that, for a hike back in to the glacier in late July, and for another month or so on the glacier. Because we are avoiding helicopter use, anything we have here that we need on any of these trips we must now hike out with. Plus we need a good inventory of what’s here so we know what else we need to bring back with us, especially in terms of food. For example, I need a computer in Kaktovik plus all of my files, so I need to pack my laptop, its charger, and several external hard disks. Similarly, we need to bring the chargers for our satellite phones, cameras, radios, etc, so that on the hike back everything will be at full charge. The smart thing to do would have been to have left extras of all of these in Kaktovik, but we didn’t think that far ahead, mostly only staging the really heavy stuff there. We had some hope of having another ski-plane flight here and avoid all of this, but summer tourist season has picked up considerably and Dirk doesn’t have the time available to put the skis back on, as this takes a day or so. So we’re hiking.
We also had a lot of work to complete before leaving. Our first day back I headed up to the upper cirque with Jason to complete another core hole. Jason is really getting into drilling and has considerable expertise now doing it. What we’ve learned so far is that the firn area is actually quite small and thin – within 100 meters of our deep core site, the firn is less than 4 meters thick. A couple of hot summers could melt nearly all of this away. The coring continued the next few days at other sites, and hopefully tomorrow morning this part of the project will be wrapped up for a while as we spend a week or more at the terminus.
Jason prepares to drop the drill into the hole for another core run.
Down it goes. (If you tilt your head).
Drilling the first few meters is a little awkward…
The next few are easier.
Jason wants to pump you up.
Once the core is extracted, the first step is to knock out the loose cuttings.
Here they come.
Next the core comes out.
Here it is.
Jason measures the length of the core…
… then cuts it into sections to measure its density.
Summer is now here in full force too. Last night the snow didn’t harden up and it seems the snow pack ripened completely below the cirques, as a number of new slush flows and tributary streams opened up today too. Snowmachining is getting to be a challenge, due to the slush and streams. Once Jason and Joey returned this morning (early, because it was too hot to drill), I took off to the terminus to try to get my photos. When I left at noon, it was clear blue sky with hardly a cloud. Within an hour, I was at our camp site taking panoramas – the snow machine is really a revolution in terms of productivity. Unfortunately during that travel time, the clouds arrived and began blocking the sun, so I wasn’t able to get the repeat photos I was after. The problem is not so much the clouds themselves, but the fact that they drift in front of the sun and create moving shadows, which make it also impossible to stitch a seamless mosaic of photos. But it was nice to get out on my own and have a look around. I was back in camp by 3PM, a fact that still astonishes me, considering that walking to the terminus and back is about a 7 hour trip. So this left the afternoon free for other preparation, like devising a contraption to keep our instruments afloat in the river.
(Click on the panorama and drag to look around, press Shift to zoom in, Command (Mac) or Control (PC) to zoom out.) Enlarge this panorama
Jason, looking skeptical that this contraption is going to work.
The idea is that by tethering the boat to shore, we can attach the instrument to the end of the paddle and it will stay vertical in the water above the bottom.
Turner: “You guys build stuff, I’m going to eat chocolate and watch Scooby Doo”
Turner watched a lot of Scooby Doo the past few days.
Exercising on the helipad, the only flat and level surface to run on.
What is IPY
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 04:17
Day 60-63: Preparing for 6 trips at onceWritten by Matt Nolan
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