Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paddle out

Yesterday was the heart-pumping high-point of our trip. After a long drive out of the Rockies (with a final stop at the Swiss bakery and brief layover at the Packing House cafe in Spences Bridge, a Fraser expedition tradition), we finally arrived at the REO Rafting Resort outside Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon. We were all excited to decompress, shower, and get a good night's sleep after three nights in the woods. And we needed to rest up for our next adventure: white water rafting.

After breakfast, we each shimmied into wetsuits and piled onto a big orange school bus, which delivered us to a launch point on the Nahatlatch River. Within minutes we were on the water practicing our paddling and man-overboard rescue skills. Then the action really started. We started hurdling down the Nahatlatch in our rafts, occasionally steered expertly into waves and rocks by our guides, with the river bed racing past under the clear blue water. More than just a thrill ride, this was an awesome opportunity to experience the raging flow of a mountain river at high water, the canyon walls of the Coast Mountains jutting up on either side and huge log jams sticking out from the banks now and then. When the ride was finished, we availed ourselves of a few water samples, which affirmed the clear nature (i.e. low solute and particle load) of the river we had just traversed.

After a relaxing afternoon discussing the local geology in the sun back at the resort, we ended the evening with a few presentations on river geochemistry. Some of the resort staff even sat in, curious about the geology of the area after perusing our Roadside Geology of Southern B.C. book while we were out rafting. Today we are off to Vancouver to see what happens when rivers meet the sea...

Britta Voss

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Backpacking in the shadow of Mount Robson

Greetings from British Columbia. After arriving in Vancouver, the Geodynamics class took the long journey up from Vancouver to Mount Robson provincial park for 4 days and 3 nights of backpacking. After sorting out all our gear, picking up some delicious Warschauerbrot (Warsaw bread) from the Valemount Swiss bakery (and yummy croissants), and picking up some fuel, we were off to the trail head. We quickly got a taste of the amazing views to come, as we drove up to the breath-taking snow-capped peaks of the Rocky mountains. We started off on the trail and followed the roaring Robson river up toward Kinney Lake. A lunch stop overlooking the lake allowed us to take in the beauty of the glacial lake and its blue waters. The water is unusually cloudy and appears much bluer than pure freshwater due to the glacial rock flour (very finely ground up dust from when the glaciers grind the rocks beneath them). After our lunch we continued our climb towards our campsite at Whitehorn. After arriving at our campsite, setting up our tents, and cooking dinner, we had a discussion about the geology of British Columbia and Mount Robson.

The next day we continued our climb towards Berg Lake by heading up the Valley of a Thousand Falls. The tough climb was completely worth it as we experienced amazing views of huge waterfalls. The highlight of the climb was making it to Emperor falls, where we were able to stand at the base of the raging waterfall. After climbing out of the valley of a thousand falls, we got our first views of the huge glaciers that we would spend the next night camping in front of: Mist glacier and Berg glacier. Finally we arrived at Berg lake, named such due to the icebergs that spatter it year round from the calving of Berg glacier. After setting up camp, we took a short hike out to the Robson glacier to see the ultimate source of the Robson river.

The next day we had a short detour up to Toboggan Falls before heading back down to the Whitehorn campsite. After a very rainy night, we got up early for the hike back to the trail head. After a great hike, we celebrated our success with more delicious baked goods from the Swiss bakery, before heading off to the rafting resort.

Andrea Dubin

Monday, July 25, 2011

Now with 200% more adrenaline!

Welcome to yet another installment of Fraser River exploits! This time, we are here with a large group of MIT/WHOI students and WHOI faculty on the annual Geodynamics field trip. Unlike our usual sampling programs, this expedition will focus on experiential learning through observation and excursion (i.e. fun in the great outdoors). Tomorrow we set off for three nights on the Berg Lake trail, which will take us to the Robson glacier at the base of Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies. We of course won't have internet during this time, so you'll have to wait a few days to hear all the juicy details. Stay tuned!

All we have to report today is our grueling all-day journey from Woods Hole to Valemount, BC. Some of us left Woods Hole at 3am (Eastern Time), and we arrived in Valemount at 10pm (Pacific Time). So, if you're keeping track, that's nearly 24 hours in transit. We were only rained on briefly, so our hopes are high for fair weather while we're out in the elements. To keep ourselves amused through the sleep deprivation (and add a bit of officialdom to our walkie-talkie messages), we christened our three minivans with code names: Phoenix, Iceberg, and Blizzard. This should be my last post for a while, as I let other students tell you about our adventures. See you in a few days!

Britta Voss