Fieldwork #1: Let Us Play Goat
Leavenworth, WA; a tourist town wearing a gilded Bavarian dress, and crowded with people, bakeries, gift shops, more people, snack shops, breweries and two-dimensional Bavarian people wearing fancy overalls and exclaiming things like “Welcomen en Leavenworth”.
In terms of my fieldwork, it’s a break day, whih means laundry and logistics, and possibly, a shower.
I’ve been in my field area for about 5 days. It’s located about 1 hour north in the National Forest and Wilderness area along the Chiwawa river. Driving north I pass through a town called Plain, WA. I’ll probably buy a t-shirt. The road turns to dirt 30 minutes prior to reaching camp before passing a large cliff of deeply exhumed metamorphic rock on the right. The hills reach upward steeply on either side, and are blanketed in the green of pines, and alders which sometimes reach with their long limbs across the road in a game of scratching cars.
The terrain is rough and vegetated. I knew this going in. Outcrops are sparse and in many cases, only exposed as shear cliffs. We start work at 9am and have yet to collect data prior to lunchtime. Usually, I’m too busy ducking mosquitos and hiking 3 to 6 miles with 4,000 feet of elevation gain before the first outcrop. I guess this is high-country geology.
Outcrop (noun): a rock formation that is visible on the surface; a visible exposure of bedrock; what some might call “the good stuff”; the stuff that neotectonicists don’t really care about.
Yesterday, we hiked up the trail toward Carne Mountain (which is not of Spanish origin, so I guess it’s just “KARN”. It was strenuous. Lots of elevation gain, but we were rewarded with a great view of the Buck Mountain across the way. After lunch and after overlooking the map about 5 times, we found the outcrop and spent 3 hours playing goat on steep slopes of strongly foliated micaceous biotite schist.
The foliation was steep. The slope was steep. It felt like slow and precarious stumbling across the pages of a very large and vertical book. In descending, I took the fast route down one of the the talis shoots. As in, a rock slide, but I was a part of the slide. Totally safe, of course.
Bob, my advisor: “Well, I don’t know what that is… but you should collect a sample.”
These first few days have made a few things about high-country geology abundantly clear:
- June is early. Snowmelt has caused creeks to swell and become impassable.
- Mosquitos are the lowest form of life, but everyone already knows that.
- DEET 100 bug repellant actually works but I might be increasing my risk of skin cancer, but who cares, it works.
- Our quads are going to be champs by the end of the summer.
- Most of my areas will require short backpacking trips, some will be overnights, others may be up to 5 days. Mmmmmm tasty.
I’ll be doing research here until mid-August. I already have dirt collecting under my fingernails (which I clean every now and then in the Chiwawa River), and the tiny canyons on the side of my fingers are slowly collecting dirt as well. I kind of like it. It’s like I get to be uncivilized, which in all honesty has always suited me.
Foliation (noun): a planar fabric within a rock, which is often the result of minerals recrystallizing to form distinct layers; it can be steep, shallow and is often folded. It looks really cool sometimes, but other times its dull and boring.
Next stage of my fieldwork will require a ferry ride up glacierly carved Lake Chelan, because there are no roads to the mining town of Holden Village where we will be camping. I also am planning a 5 night backpacking trip up Rock Creek, to allow us appropriate time to scale the steep slopes and observe the outcrops there, as well as a 5 day trip up the Entiat River to traverse the ridges and peaks in Snowberry canyon. How cool is that?
OOLIN @ The Gingerbread Factory, Leavenworth, WA.
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