Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year's Eve

Lake Hoare Camp, overcast weather doesn't look good for water sampling...
There are only people in camp.  Rae, Kathy, & I will enjoy a quiet day.  I'm pressing my coffee & considering a 10 mile hike to the LaCroix Glacier to see if any water is flowing off of it (& not just in the stream below).  But, it has been fairly overcast a few days & the last glacier surface water missions required that I step onto the glacier & swing a mallet wrapped in plastic at the ice-lidded melt holes & channels.  Hiking with a chance of whack-a-mole.  Because success is unlikely, I'm considering some other options & I'm taking mascots from my son & daughter's school on a hike to take pictures as the landscape changes.  I have 4 polar bears from Snowhill Elementary second grade classrooms & one unicorn from Covenant Children's Academy kindergarten.  They  have been anxious to get out, but would likely blow away during sampling... but today I will be down in the valley much more than up high.  So we are going on an adventure after I press some much needed coffee.  Two cups & I'm off!

Antarctic Blend Coffee & an Aeropress

Rose, performs a radio check.
Three people today, so many more for Christmas.  But it was fun!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. (aka walking a lot for science)

Yesterday's science adventures on the Commonwealth Glacier. Pete, a mountaineer, and I took a long hike to find water on the glacier surface and then we had a helicopter flight to sample the Taylor Glacier today.  Success!  These samples will be analyzed for trace element concentrations, major ions, & hydrogen & oxygen isotopes in a few months. What are the chemical conditions supporting life on the top of glacier surfaces & what are the chemical contributions of glaciers to the downstream ecosystems?
The beginning of a 14 mile sampling journey.  Crossing Lake Hoare.
Pete pointed out a route across the lake, we avoided an open moat.

We walked around the terminus to get to the other side of Canada Glacier.

 Best ATV tour ever! And we crossed another lake. Thanks Christa!

Pete I hiked up for a few hours before we could get onto the Commonwealth.

We found water, I sampled!  It took 14 hours to complete this mission.

After camping on Lake Fryxell we took a helicopter to the Taylor Glacier :waster!

A hypothesis

Are you answering a question?
Magnetic pulling, landscape suctioning, visioning
What is necessary and what is possible and what is muscular are woven
This is a journey

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Weather Delay

My tent.  The temperature varies and requires a sequence of clothing layers throughout the night.  It is always technicolor yellow inside.

The trail along & over the Canada Glacier, Taylor Valley, Antarctica
"Word/mist, word/mist: thus it was with me.  And yet my silence was never total-" L. Gluck.

These pictures are of the Canada Glacier, this week I have been sleeping next to it and taking samples of cryoconite holes (melt that forms around sediment and seals with and icy lid) and streams on the surface.  Water chemistry holds clues the ingredients needed to support life on the glacier and downstream. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Back in the Valley

Ventifact on the Nussbaum Reigel, Taylor Valley, Antarctica

A rock whittled by the wind to climb into.
Wild places.  Blogging to share. It has been 9 years since my last visited to Taylor Valley, Antarctica.  The lakes are rising in response to climate change. Our footsteps along the lake shores erased. The granite still whittling away, the seal bodies still mummifying, the sky still parching rock and skin. My legs can still keep moving miles & miles until the water from glaciers fills my bottles. Their surfaces so strangely beautiful and other-worldly that I wonder if I've gathered Martian tears. And in 24 hours of daylight all things are possible, even a traverse of the Suess Glacier that ends at 10 p.m., or a sneaked peak outside of your tent in the middle of the searingly bright night. Some places stick inside of your memory- always  vivid. Endurance is not just motion.
On the Suess Glacier sampling trace elements from cryoconite holes & streams.  This part of  glacier is gently sloping & matches the the texture of the ice-covered lakes below.