Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lake Hoare for the Weekend

I apologize I haven't got around to updating this in a few days.  We have been pretty busy trying to get all of the gauges opened up before the flows start.  Saturday we were supposed to fly up to Lake Bonney and open two gauges up there, but the weather was too poor in town so all flights were canceled for the day.  We still wanted to head over to lake Hoare for some R & R, and of course a hot shower.

We took the ATV down to the east end of Fryxell, hiked the face of the Canada Glacier, and then were picked up on Lake Hoare with another ATV.  This early season traveling with the ATVs is so convenient.  You can easily travel up and Down Taylor Valley in a reasonable amount of time while the moats are still frozen.  The moats are the seasonal lake ice, that run the entire edge of the lakes.  These are like highways for the ATVs because due to the annual thawing and freezing they are typically very smooth and make for an enjoyable ride.  They are also pretty interesting to look at because they tend to be a bright turquoise color with amazing bubble patterns in them.  This convenience will be changing soon.  Usually starting early December the moats begin to thaw which makes getting onto the lake ice a real challenge (typically they can be 10 to 100 ft from the shore to good ice), and forces us to use the ATVs on the rough permanent ice, which significantly reduces our speed.  

We didn't have much work to do around Lake Hoare, so we used the rest of our day to pick ice berries.  The competition for largest berry got pretty ambitious at one point.  We even plowed out a road through the snow to make sliding the berries easier.  Hopefully we have gotten enough to last Lake Hoare a while, because the ice around the glaciers is already getting pretty thin.

It was somebody's birthday here (sorry I don't use people's names unless I ask, it is just easier to keep most people anonymous), so we celebrated by heading out to the beach and playing some frisbee and bocce ball.  The beach is a pretty awesome feature at Lake Hoare.  I posted a picture on last year's blog of us playing frisbee on it in our bare feet.  It is a sand dune positioned right up next to the Canada glacier.  It formed because there is a hollowed out section of the glacier that the wind gets trapped in, thus trapping any sand being blown by the wind.  At night, when the sun is in the west, the beach is under pretty intense sunlight which warms the sand up enough that it can be comfortable to stand around in your bare feet.

Sunday rolled around and we needed to get some work done.  Even though Sundays are our day off, sometimes we shift our day off (or don't get it at all) depending on our schedules.  We decided that we should open the Bonney gauges soon because these streams are typically first to flow.  With the weather warming up, and reports of some streams already producing a trickle, we decided to make the hike.  We got a ride to the west end of Lake Chad, where we began our hike west through what is known as The Defile.  This is a pretty crazy trail that runs between the Suess Glacier, and Andrews ridge.  There is a small slot between the glacier and the hillside about 20 ft wide to walk through (shown below).

The Defile
The Suess Glacier from the west end of Mummy Pond

Floodplain of Priscu Stream
We walked west around the Suess Glacier, past mummy pond, through an area known as the Ventifact Knobs, walked down Priscu Stream and finally ended up at Lake Bonney.  We had contacted the Limno (Limnology) Team earlier in the morning to set up a ATV ride from the east end of Bonney to the west end which was awesome.  I have walked part of that stretch before and it is brutal.  Getting chauffeured around the Lakes was super nice, and it was fun to interact with some of the other groups out here.  We opened up Lawson Stream gage which is on the west end of Lake Bonney right near Blood Falls (seen below).  We had some extra time so we decided to look around at some of the other un-gaged streams to see if they were flowing and we came across the first flow of the season on Santa Fe.

Blood Falls

Santa Fe and the first flow we have seen this season.
 I forgot to mention.  Saturday night when we were all out enjoying the beach, we heard a loud thundering noise.  I immediately dismissed it as a helicopter or airplane, but it was pretty late at night.  Someone noticed that it was an odd hour to hear a noise like that and pointed out the LaCroix glacier had a plume of ice cascading down it.  It was pretty crazy to see, but I wish we had been closer to witness it.  Here is the picture of the LaCroix as we walked by it on the way to Bonney.  We couldn't really see any evidence of the calving event.

La Croiox Glalcier
Anyways, we were able to open the gauges up on Lawson and Bohner (pronounced Bah-ner. some of the helo pilots get creative with the pronunciation...).  It was a pretty long day of hiking, but it was made way less painless with the ATVs.  We finally made it home at around 8:00.  We were lucky enough to walk into the hut to some killer chili and corn bread.  Then we were finally able to take a hot shower (weekly Sunday showers at Lake Hoare), which felt amazing.  Such a good end to a long day.

Today we are hiking back to F6 so we can help unload the helicopter that supposedly has the rest of our gear.  Today will likely be kind of a slow day back there which should make up for the fact that we worked on Sunday.  It feels like we are finally starting to get some work done.  With the streams already beginning to flow it should be a fun year!

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