Food Food FOOD!

Food Food FOOD!

Submitted by Jacob Watts (Colgate University)

While in Glacier National Park pushing cores into sediment meters below and hauling around the massive raft on which the cores are taken, one sure does work up an appetite. Most days we would not even consider finishing on the coring raft until 5:30 pm. And don’t even think about getting into camp before 6! The work was grueling at times, but we had moments of laying back on the raft eating the lunches we made earlier that morning. In complete bliss, I got to take a break and look up at the glacially carved mountains surrounding us on three sides. It’s those times of exhausted accomplishment that I lived for, PB & Nutella sandwich half melted, dripping from my sunchapped lips. My only thoughts were on the mixed nuts and beef jerky that were scattered in the bottom of my well worn lunch ziploc. But! Not a second to spare, the past (in the form of a lake sediment core) awaits! And up we sprung up, ready to get our next core.

As the day came to an end, kayaking our loot, the cores, back to shore, I plan the night’s meal. On shore we mentally inventoried our food supply and took a poll to decide that we wanted stir fry for dinner! Keep in mind, we were all crazy hungry at this point. So what really happened when we got into camp was a mad rush to get the food out of the back of the van and in the pan! I was usually in charge of getting out the stove, lighting it, and prepping the spices for the stir fry, while a small army with knives and cutting board frantically cut up vegetables to be thrown in at a moment’s notice. All the while, all 8 students shoved dirt stained hands into a chip bag for our traditional chips and salsa appetizer, far beyond the point of washing our hands before dinner. We are truly in the wilderness now, I thought as I stirred the veggies and salting the pasta.

The meal was delicious and the campsite was dead quiet, only the ground squirrels could be heard bravely scampering over feet to nibble the scraps as soon as they hit the ground. This was another moment of exhausted bliss, satisfied that my stomach was full and so were my friends’ after a long, fun day on the raft. I shamelessly didn’t even bother to help clean up, because I did my part in cooking for the group, plus, my hammock was just too tempting. As I laid in the hammock, I couldn’t see anything, mainly because my eyes were closed, but I could hear the clinking of silverware being washed, the signs of a meal past. Similar to the cores that we gathered, a record of the past, I thought as I fall asleep with a full stomach and a content heart, probably dreaming about food.

Sediment, Water, and Bears, Oh My!

Sediment, Water, and Bears, Oh My!

Submitted by Anna Pearson (Smith College)

While the other half of our team spent the day out on the coring raft, Team Land spent the day collecting data on the modern lake processes that bring the sediments down into the lake.

Part of our group measured suspended sediment concentration at various points near the delta of the stream between Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake and between Fishercap Lake and Swiftcurrent. These samples allow us to see how much sediment is moving into Swiftcurrent Lake from both the Grinnell and Swiftcurrent Valleys, respectively. We can then use this information to help us understand the sediment cores from the lake and where that sediment may have come from!

The rest of us measured the water discharge of the stream between Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent. We did this by measuring water depth at set intervals along the stream, as well as finding water velocity the old-fashioned way– we timed how long it took an orange to float a set distance down the stream! A USGS monitoring station keeps track of how much water leaves Swiftcurrent Lake, so we can combine their data and ours to gain an understanding of how water moves throughout this complex system! I really enjoyed the chance to see how all the different work we’re doing ties together into a more complete picture of the entire glacial lake environment!

Unexpectedly, our discharge measurements were occasionally interrupted by some interested wildlife! We first saw a mama bear and two cubs walk right up next to our equipment. In our initial surprise at their arrival, Didi was forced to climb up out of the river onto the bridge in order to avoid getting too close! Mom and the cubs stayed in the area for most of the day, so we ended up having to wait for awhile and warn hikers that came into the area! It’s been very fun throughout the project to get a chance to communicate all the cool stuff we’re doing with the public all around us since we’re working in a national park, and today was an especially good opportunity to bond with the tourists as we waited out the bears!

Later in the afternoon, we also had to pause our work and get out of the stream after a moose came right by the coring craft and then headed up the stream next to us!