Tuesday, March 4, 2008

That geologic death wish...

So Chris Rowan wants to hear stories about hazardous field work, huh?

I've been afraid of heights, or at least of exposure, since I was ten. I've learned to manage it (mostly; my former field partners may disagree), because sometimes the interesting rocks are hard to get to.

I'm not particularly afraid of water, though. I grew up in New England, I worked as a lifeguard, and I've waded across countless streams with my boots tied to my pack. This past summer, however, I decided that maybe I need to re-think my cavalier attitude towards liquid hazards.

This is where I'm working these days:

Unfortunately, to get to part of our field area last summer, we had to cross this:

That's a small river in the wilderness. No bridges across it. And in June, there was still snow melting in the high country. We tried to wade the river, but it was up to our mid-thighs before we got six feet into the current. It didn't seem very safe, especially with backpacking equipment.

So we left, and came back the next day with this:

I've done a lot of flat water canoing, but I don't have much experience with strong currents. My dad, however, had, so he tried to teach me.

If you look closely at that photo, you'll see the result: we broke a paddle.

We ended up doing some reconnaissance work on a low-elevation (by my current standards) shear zone, and went back to this area in late July.

(Maybe later I'll tell Alaska stories.)


Silver Fox said...

Yes, some Alaska stories - no one has mentioned any bears at all, yet! But that looks like a seriously scary river to me.

Kim said...

In July, it's possible to wade across it without getting wet above the knees. Or maybe thighs. But when the snow's melting... well, let's just say that I'm glad we spent time there last summer, and aren't trying to cross that river after this year's snow season!

I'll have to spread out the Alaska stories. They could provide blog fodder for years.