Thursday, June 17, 2010

National Park meme

I am great fan of the national parks. I had to jump on this one. The rules are simple: Bold the ones you have visited, and italicize the ones you’ve never heard of before.

Most visited:
10: Glacier
9: Acadia
8: Grand Teton, climbed the Middle Teton years ago, no crowds, in fact no others.
7: Cuyahoga Valley , yes the river that caught fire is certainly doing better now
6: Rocky Mountain, I was a ranger here for 3 summers. Enjoyed every minute
5: Olympic
4: Yellowstone
3: Yosemite
2: Grand Canyon
1: Great Smoky Mountains

Least Visited:
10: City of Rocks NR, Idaho
9: Cumberland Island NS, Georgia
8: Florissant Fossil Beds NM, Colorado
7: Chiricahua NM, Arizona
6: Tonto NM, Arizona
5: Dry Tortugas NP, Florida
4: Katmai NP & Preserve, Alaska
3: Kalaupapa NHP, Hawaii
2: Hagerman Fossil Beds NM, Idaho
1: Russel Cave NM, Alabama

A busman's holiday...a Geologist on Vacation

We camped for 12 nights, visited 3 National parks, 2 wilderness areas and one fantastic national monument. We hiked about 80 miles and rode bikes for an additional 130 miles using some single track and lots of remote desert jeep tracks. We were also able to enjoy the melt water from an above average snow pack in Central Utah. A few of the canyons we visited sported full on rivers that felt so good in the usual desert heat.

To set the scene.
Riding the trails in Kodachrome State Park. The Entrada sandstone normally erodes in some great shapes, but here, the strange "sand pipes" add an interesting structure. Up close you can see that the sand pipes have a great variety of grain sizes compared to the run-of-the-mill sand stone suggesting a little more water in their formation.
Riding in the Grand Staircase. Entrada cliffs in the foreground. The cliffs Clarion limestone in Bryce Canyon in the back ground.
Wading the Escalante River. Above normal snowpack provided a full river. I used the USGS water level email service to keep me informed of the water levels prior to our visit.
Biology n the foreground and Chinle Fm in the background. The desert was in bloom everywhere we went.
Riding in the circle cliffs. The west side of the waterpocket fold in the background. The roads are made entirely of eroded shale making for a great riding surface in the dry. There was plenty of evidence that people had been caught way out here in the rain just the week before.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What do I work on??

I had the pleasure of dinner last night with Ron Schott after following his tweets across the country. Sitting in the backyard enjoying some beverages before dinner Ron asked me what is it exactly that I do? I found that a difficult question. My career as a high school teacher has certainly allowed me to take many kids into the field and show them the wonders of our planet...but what about now?

I guess what I do now is to try and explore as much of my neighborhood (the 4 corners) as time allows. My research is all about what I am interested in, that day. High school teachers don't have to publish :) and so I follow my whim.

What do I work on? Getting outside, walking, biking, climbing or traveling on a river. Observing interesting sights and giving a try at interpretation. Reading books about my region. and lastly sharing what I have found out. So, the month of June will be in the field, or God's navel if you are an Ed Abbey fan. Plans include backpacking along the Escalante River, mountain biking in the Grand Staircase and on Cedar Mesa and rafting through the Gates of Ladore. I am of course traveling with my wife, who told Ron, yes every day is a field trip.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1st peak of the season

Memorial Day was a blue bird Colorado day. With the weather cooperating, we decided that it was a good day for our almost-traditional climb of Baldy Peak. The peak can be found just south of Ridgway and just north of "The Blowout" the eroded remnants of a Laramide age intrusive stock. Baldy itself is made primarily of Mancos Shale with a few outcrops of San Juan Tuff at lower elevations.

The climb was a delight, the weather was warm with just a slight breeze (this spring has been exceptionally windy) and we saw no other people until almost all the way back to the trail head. There was plenty of mountain lion evidence but no bear scat. With such a large deer population, it isn't too surprising to see lion spore.

Here is a USGS bench mark that actually has the name and elevation.

The calendar might say June 1, but at 10,000 feet it is still spring. Pasque flowers lining the trail
Eating lunch on the summit, contemplating the universe
The two 14'ers in the background are Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre. The aspen trees are just starting to show leaves at this elevation. The large areas of meadow suggest a more basic soil made from the erosion of the Mancos shale.