Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mud or Sand?

I am in the midst of getting my Geology of the Green River class finalized. You always have to wait until the last minute to see what the water conditions are like. The past few years have seen lower than average water conditions. The good news is that the sand bars are numerous and camping is pretty easy...the bad news is that you paddle all day every day. This year could be different with the record snow pack last winter. Rivers have been running high but it looks like the discharge has been dropping off rapidly in the past week as the snow pack from last winter has about finished melting. This graph shows a 1000 cfs drop in discharge about every 60 hours. Of course this is a dam regulated river flow and we know we won't run out of water (which this graph might suggest) , the question is when will the river reach its regulated base flow of 1975 cfs?
If we have water levels greater than 3000 cfs, there might be a bit of mud to content with, in which case the class might spend even more time looking at modern day sediment and sediment transport down the river and on our sandals. If the water levels drop to closer to 2000 cfs, we will have more sand and more sand bars to play with.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Long Bike Ride

I am back home after riding the 185 mile C&O canal towpath along the Potomac River from Cumberland MD to Washington DC. The canal was a busy place for almost 100 years before the railroads took over the job of transporting stuff between the coast and the interior. Now protected by the National Park Service, this very long and very skinny unit of our National Park System provides an incredible chance to ride a bicycle through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains while not climbing a single hill...pretty cool.

I have to thank Callen for giving me some advanced information to help me appreciate the geology of the area. I am afraid I have that Western bias that assumes geology should be right in front of your nose with little vegetation hiding the nuances.

Now I am off to Lake City where we will attempt some easy 14'ers, and then one more geology class to teach while floating from Green River Utah to Mineral Bottom, 65 miles away.

I love summer!