Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend!

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day. I had a great time. I backpacked in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS). I will post pictures later when our internet is not so problematic. I organized a group, picture to left(Erica, John, Mason in background, Jen, Mark, Rachael, Jeanne, Mike, and yours truly taking the shot), consisting of 7 interp and two maintenance staff (aka the Twins, Mark and John). We traversed the pumice terrain enduring cold and some light rain making a soupy mix that is very...annoying to walk/sink through.

We ended our long day of hiking and camped out at the Baked Mtn Huts half way up Baked Mtn. The Huts are actually left over from a USGS survey base in the 60's.
Let’s just say that it was very cold that night. To keep some of us warm we slept 5 deep on the floor with Jen and I covering ourselves with an old emergency sleeping bag that was left in the cabin. Note to all you reading this: 1. sleeping bags are rated to survival temp, not to be confused with comfort temp. 2. 6 years of losing down feathers from your bag means that your bag is no where near its rating any longer. The moral of the story is that Jen and I (the two really frozen people) are going to invest in new bags eventually. Hopefully then we will not have to rely on the kindness of strangers...or there body heat.

The next morning I led my roommate Mason and Jen to the horseshoe overlook to investigate Novarupta (site of 20th century's largest eruption). Let me just say that lots of snow in semi-warm weather is not very conducive to walking over it, but is more like post hole digging with your feet. Anyways we eventually slogged our way to the top of the horseshoe's rim. Before us was the amazing site of Novarupta, in its 500 ft (yes feet) of glory. It was so amazing that Mason did not see it at first. The plan was to climb Novarupta, but I dissuaded (very easily) the others that this was not feasible due to snow hiding the already treacherous and jagged rocks. That climb along with a trek to the Mount Katmai caldera is destined for later in the season. Since we had to be back to meet the NPS vehicle we hiked at amazing speed to catch up to the rest of our group (who started returning while we investigated Novarupta) and switched places with our Law Enforcement staff who were going out for a two days.

The ride back was a blast b/c I drove and you know what that means...crossing 3 rivers in an excursion. :) Very satisfying. On the road we turned a corner to witness a bear being spooked off by the vehicle and had to keep from running over some spruce grouse (possibly one of the planets least intelligent creatures). Back at camp one of our old bears "Popeye" returned taking our number of bears sited to 7, which could mean that the bears will be here early this year.

Quick Visa Recap
1. Sleeping Bag $150
2. Backpack $200
3. Stove & Pots $80
4. Various Clothing $180

Enduring mind-numbing cold to visit a volcano with new friends in an area inhabited by the world's largest concentration of Brown Bears....priceless.

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