Thursday, December 14, 2006

2000- Juneau Icefield Research Program

It's the summer after I started my Master's program at OSU. Ben (who I later stumbled upon in Antarctica at 2 in the morning in the McMurdo cafeteria as his disrespectful roommate entertained too much company) and I led a few students down the Gilkey Trench to explore supraglacial melt ponds in the compression zone below the ice falls. We spent all day descending the nunatak adjacent to the ice falls. Exhausted... physically and mentally. We trudged to camp at the medial moraine a kilometer away, the pace quickens with dreams of dinner. I'm ready to be a hero, carrying with me some much sought after mac and cheese. By the time we reach camp, we are drooling... but prematurely. A grizzly bear looms a few kilometers away. And it's plodding our way. Four of us jump on a boulder to match the bear in size, hoping to divert its course. TO no avail!!! We are feeble compared to this trucklike animal. We are nervous.

We radio our above glacier campmates, they advise us to leave fast. We grab some fuel to "light and throw "at the bear--- or if we escape, to use for dinner...

Suddenly the bear is within 100 meters of us. We don't cramponing until 1 a.m., carefully navigating over watery streams... insightful revelations from the undergraduate with us...fear lays it all out....

That night, we rest on the firm and spiky ground of the nunatek to our west. Precariously steep, we set rocks underneath---they'll be no plummeting in the middle of the night. I'm thanking my cheap immitation thermarest that can be blown up in 3 segments... to huge pillows. I sleep like cotton. Before my eyes sand, we witness a spectacular aurora, dining on the finest mac and cheese. Ben and I had a laugh imagining throwing a fire bomb at the grizzly. Its funny from our perch.

The picture is from the next morning.

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