Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wise words...

found on a dirty window in a cabin used by cavers, somewhere in the Bighorn Mountain range, north-central Wyoming (click to enlarge).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm back at the roost...

after a two week-long road trip that was good for the soul.  I'll back-post some of the highlights (climbing, caving, wildlife, etc.) after I tend to some homecoming chores.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My walk in the Cloud Peak Wilderness...

began at the West Tensleep Lake trailhead, traversing a well-worn path for about 10 miles through glacial moraines (click to enlarge):
Wildflowers were thriving in the high altitude and provided colorful distraction from my burdensome backpack, loaded for three days alone in the back country:
This view toward the northeast, from the shores of Lake Helen, provides the first glimpse of the west ridge route to the summit of Cloud Peak (13,167 ft):
I bivied a short distance away from this 40 ft waterfall for two nights, preparing my meals alongside the stream so that odors wouldn't draw bears to my camp:
I started toward the summit at around 8 am (a tad bit late), navigating a ~3 mile scramble/hike over seemingly relentless boulder fields, gaining more than 3,200 ft along the way.  Here's a snap of the highest blooming plant (Parry's primrose) that I encountered on the west ridge:
I arrived at the lofty summit around 1 pm, taking the requisite self portrait.  That's Glacier Lake, more than 1,800 ft below me, on the east side of the peak:
Another view from the summit shows numerous alpine lakes in a glacially-denuded basin to the north:
Pikas were everywhere in the boulders at mid to lower elevations, and provided near constant companionship on my solo hike:
On the final morning, during my hike out, I encountered two wary moose near Mistymoon Lake:
And here's the last picture I took, gazing back toward my now accomplished objective, as I left the magnificent wilderness:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adventure beckons...

the minute you drive off the pavement east of Yellowtail Reservoir, Wyoming, following gravel roads with challenging 4WD upgrades.  That's caving buddy DA in his Baja Bug leading the way into the northern Bighorn Mountains (click to enlarge):
Two old miner's cabins stand in the near distance, our "camp" for the previous week of caving and other explorations of the area, with the East and West Pryor Mountains looming beyond:
Pronghorn antelope spied our presence in this out-of-the-way place, never approaching closer than the high ridge overlooking our camp:
One of our activities involved surface survey for sinkholes in this exhumed karst terrain, but Devil Canyon plunges more than 900 feet from rim to river (Porcupine Creek), an effective geographic obstacle to exploring further north:
Defunct uranium mines perforate the landscape, where recent but feeble attempts have been made to close the entrances due to safety concerns:
We went rockhounding one afternoon, and nice specimens of dogtooth spar calcite were found in the mine dumps:
The nearly sheer walls in Bighorn Canyon show a solutioned zone in the Madison Limestone about 80 to 110 ft below the plateau surface, marking the stratigraphic zone where most caverns had been formed in this area.  Note the boaters for scale:
Nearby, a pair of abandoned channels of the ancestral Bighorn River lie hundreds of feet above the present river level, and are appropriately named the "Natural Corrals:"
By the way, we ate quite well during our week in residence:
And every-other evening provided a photo-worthy sunset:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elk Basin oil field...

sits astride the Montana/Wyoming border in the northern Bighorn basin and is a breached doubly-plunging anticline (click to enlarge):
This geologic structure is the site of an actively operating oil field and is used as a three-day mapping exercise for students attending geology field camp at YBRA:
The historic field is no longer operated by Amoco, but it is still under production:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Work week at the YBRA...

took me back in time to my six week stay at the historic field station during my field camp experience in summer 1978.  Little has changed in the vista seen from its mountainside locale above Red Lodge, Montana, where you can observe nearly vertically-dipping Paleozoic strata that define the Beartooth Front (click to enlarge):
I spent the last four days in various repair tasks, first of which was scraping and painting one of the two study halls.  Here's a shot of JR working away while I supervise, take pictures, and offer encouragement:
I probably repaired (closed) more than three dozen squirrel holes chewed into the sides of the many cabins scattered throughout the camp.  I had to patiently wait for this fellow to leave before I screened off the hole, but I needed a break anyway:

The last day was spent assisting JR in replacing the old wooden and warped front door to the main lodge with a more robust metal door better able to endure the winter elements (and bears):
On the last day I found our 1978 class picture in a dusty photo album in the main lodge.  That's me, third from right, first row, with Professor John Utgaard at the far right in the back row:

It was a certainly a terrific summer in 1978, and a terrific last week visiting with old friends and making new ones, and even taking in the pig races in neighboring Bear Creek one night!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Osprey at moonrise...

in the Jefferson River canyon near Three Forks, Montana (click to enlarge):

Friday, August 12, 2011

How people in science...

see each other.  Heh.

Hat tip:  CN.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another summer road trip...

is about to commence, departing mid-morning tomorrow, consisting of a combination plate of geology, caving and climbing.  Packing is underway.

I'll first visit the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) geology field station near Red Lodge, Montana.  I attended the camp as an undergraduate student in 1978 and still consider it the best six weeks of my early training as a fledgling geologist.  This time I'll be volunteering my time to making end-of-season repairs to the facility, including patching the cabins, replacing screens, painting, etc.  Other alums will participate (Geogal and her husband will be there) and we'll be well fed by the kitchen staff for all our efforts.  I can't wait to hear the camp's dinner bell ring again.

Then I'll proceed to the Bighorn Mountains where I'll meet long-time caving buddy DA to map a recent new discovery.  I won't reveal the location, but the cave is in a remote and beautiful spot at the end of a gnarly 4WD road.  More people have walked on the Moon than have visited this cavern.

Afterward, I plan to make a three-day solo dash to the summit of Cloud Peak (13,167 ft), the highest in the Bighorn range, and a goal of mine for some time.  And finally, I'll boomerang back through Bozeman and visit Zegrahm Expeditions buddy MM (we sailed together last year across the Bering Sea).  It will be a fun and active two weeks, and maybe I'll slip in a post now and then.

Opportunity knocks...

on the west rim of Endeavour crater on Mars.  Images at the link.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who can possibly resist...

peering into a freshly excavated hole? Certainly not a geologist!

While running errands around town yesterday I noticed these enormous sub-rounded basalt boulders piled adjacent to a stormwater retention basin for a new subdivision in Cheney, Washington (click to enlarge):
These gigantic clasts were likely saltating particles in the Missoula outburst floods that swept across eastern Washington, scouring the Channeled Scablands, at the end of the Pleistocene.  Here's a better indication of scale:

Monday, August 8, 2011

The photo-log book...

summarizing my recent travels around the Baltic Sea is now available as a .pdf file for download (~2.1 MB).  Zegrahm Expeditions furnishes the hardbound book to its clients as a post-trip gift, and yours truly was the principle photographer on the excursion.  Enjoy!

Opportunity is now only 120 meters...

(394 feet) from "Spirit Point," the first landfall on the rim of Endeavour crater, and should arrive there on Tuesday. Since landing on Mars in January 2004 the rover has driven 20.65 miles (33.23 km)!

I anticipate an awesomely jaw-dropping panorama view from the crater rim in the week ahead. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This beluga's got rhythm...

Settled science...

Arctic 'tipping point' may not be reached.  The article's subheading reads:  "Scientists say current concerns over a tipping point in the disappearance of Arctic sea ice may be misplaced."

Here's the technical abstract in Science.

Al Gore, call your office.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Juno heading to Jove...

with its liftoff today at 8:34 am PDT, the beginning of a five-year long voyage to the gas giant.  Juno's primary goal is to "understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter."

Here's NASA's Juno mission page.  Watch the launch on NASA-TV.

Hey, maybe we'll discover it has a solid core made of diamond.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Seasonal slope streaks...

observed in Newton Crater on Mars (click image to enlarge) lends further support for flowing saltwater: Mystery Lines on Mars Carved By Water, Study Suggests.

While the phenomenon of slope streaking on crater walls on Mars is not news in and of itself, the periodic, seasonal appearance of these is exceptionally well documented.  Furthermore, this evidence reduces the likelihood that they are a result of a mass wasting mechanism, such as dry grain flow.  Very exciting stuff, for a geek.

More at the JPL web site, and here's the technical abstract.

Don't try this at home...

Swedish Man Caught Trying to Split Atoms at Home.

You do have to give him an 'A' for effort.

Split personality of Luna...

explained by a new hypothesis: Earth Had 2 Moons That Crashed to Form 1, Study Suggests.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The second-most massive asteroid...

seen up close and personal (click image to enlarge to full resolution):
The press release accompanying this picture indicates that "NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of the giant asteroid Vesta with its framing camera on July 24, 2011. It was taken from a distance of about 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers). Dawn entered orbit around Vesta on July 15, and will spend a year orbiting the body. After that, the next stop on its itinerary will be an encounter with the dwarf planet Ceres."

More images and information about the ongoing mission to the asteroid belt can be found here.

Cold case warming up...

The 40-year mystery of America’s greatest skyjacking.

The story is, of course, about D.B. Cooper. If you're a young person, live in the Pacific Northwest, and haven't heard of him, be sure to read this.

UPDATE and BOUNCED:  Forensic tests underway.

I need a bigger bird bath...

to accommodate the regular early-morning visits from several Great Horned Owls (click images to enlarge):
I spied three adult individuals competing for time in the bath this morning while the sprinkler pelted them with water:
And I just missed catching two at the same time sharing the much too small basin:

Apologies for the poor quality images and glare - I was snapping them surreptitiously through a window in pretty low light - but here's a reasonably decent shot:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My first impressions...

after using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android-based tablet for a while are nothing less than overwhelmingly positive.  It's blazing fast, has the most vibrant and sharpest screen available today, and the Android Honeycomb 3.1 operating system is highly intuitive (I didn't even look at the manual during the first three days of use, and I don't use an Android cell phone.)

It is clear to me that tablets are primarily information consuming devices.  I've enjoyed reading books using the Kindle app, surfing the web, playing Mahjong and Angry Birds, watching videos and listening to music.  Although I might make minor edits to documents/spreadsheets, or compose the occasional blog post using the included software on the tablet, it's certainly not a replacement for a desktop/laptop computer for serious and/or professional work.

Some minor quibbles:  The USB charging cord is astonishingly too short (only 20 inches) for some strange reason.  And although you can download drivers to link and transfer files to/from your PC using the USB cable, you have to buy an additional $20 adapter in order to enable a functional USB port on the tablet itself (I feel the adapter should have been included).

In sum:  Highly recommended.

RELATED: Google’s Android Platform Dominating World Market.