Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Antelope Island geology field trip

Sunday I joined 27 others on a hike around Antelope Island State Park courtesy of the Salt Lake Chapter of the Association for Women Geoscientists. Some of you Lucy family members will remember this park as the place we went before our wedding to "experience" the Great Salt Lake. Sunday was a day to look at evidence of past climate change and hike with other women (and a few men) geologists.

View northwest from Buffalo Point. You can just make out a line of a few hikers on the trail down below.

As we hiked on the Bridger Bay trail we were more or less on the Gilbert Shoreline of Lake Bonneville (marked by an arrow in the picture above), which formed about 12,000 years ago by Lake Bonneville as it paused at this level for some reason when the global glacial period was changing to a warmer, dryer interglacial period. The highest stand of Lake Bonneville would have been almost 1000 feet over my head as I stood here. That shoreline and others are clearly visible as we looked across White Rock Bay. Can you see the shorelines on this picture? (You can see a larger picture if you click on it. Really. Just do it.)

Could pick out the shorelines? OK, it was a pretty hazy day, plus you probably didn't click on the picture did you? Oh well, I'll give you the answers anyway. On the picture below are marked the Stansbury (green) level from 24,000 years ago, where lake level stabilized for a thousand years as the lake was filling. By 18,000 years ago the lake had risen to the Bonneville level (blue), its highest level, during which time it was fresh and HUGE. Lake Bonneville was 325 miles long and 135 miles wide and reached into Nevada and Idaho. This is the level of the lake I was talking about when I snapped this picture a few weeks ago out in the West Desert. A natural unconsolidated sediment dam up in Idaho broke and drained the lake to the Provo level (pink) by about 16,000 years ago. As the climate dried, so did the lake, evaporating to the Gilbert level (orange), after which it kept drying to where it is today.
And we humans have a conniption when the Great Salt Lake rises 10 feet as it did in the 1980s!

We saw antelope on Antelope Island. That was a surprise. In the dozen or so times I've been to the island, I have never seen antelope there. I have always seen buffalo though. There is a managed herd of American bison (Bison bison, now there is one Latin name I can remember) roaming freely. I managed to accidentally create this cool shot.

Another of my marginally artsy photos. Maybe I should stick to geology.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little climate lesson. Our next post will be about biking again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall colors

Jim and Drew went for an early morning ride this week in Mill Creek Canyon while I went to work. Nice.
Then, since Drew went off to work Thursday afternoon through Monday, I rounded up a team ride on Saturday to enjoy the fall colors on the Mid Mountain trail from PCMR to the Canyons. John, Carl, Andy, Rhonda and I soaked in the last of the warm weather and phenomenal fall colors.

Riding the new Santa Cruz was superb. On the very rocky section of the trail I was able to make some large adjustments to my suspension and he is riding more smoothly. I have christened him Magma for the red-orange color, the explosive ride, and because I am a geologist and I like the sound of the word magma. :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Utah Geological Association 2009 field trip

The title of this year's Utah Geological Association (UGA) annual publication is Geology and Geologic Resources and Issues of Western Utah. Can you guess why I was asked to be a co-editor on this publication? Ground water is a geologic resource, and western Utah sure has an issue, as readers of this blog or any newspaper in the Intermountain West will know!

Anyhoo, each year UGA sponsors a field trip for geologists to learn about the topics covered in the publication. Friday and Saturday I participated in said field trip.

(Photo by Ken K. Thanks Ken.)

Here I am with Hugh H. and Matt A., my compatriots in implementing the Utah Geological Survey's network of ground-water monitoring wells and surface-flow gaging stations in Snake Valley and other areas of the West Desert.

Gavin K. from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) describes the monitoring SNWA is doing in the region. SNWA is applying to pump 50,000 acre-feet per year from Snake Valley. This concerns the existing Utah water right holders and others because there may not be enough water. That is why the Utah legislature appropriated $3 million to Utah Geological Survey to install this monitoring network I have been working on and posting about.

(Photo by Ken K. Thanks Ken.)

Following the SNWA presentation, Matt and I told the good folks about the UGS's monitoring program. Although the field trip was heavy on the water issues, we also made some economic and classic geologic stops. Here is Ken Puchlik telling us about the Crypto Zinc property where he hopes to mining zinc soon.

Geologist love to look at drill core.

Geologist like to talk about rocks, especially on a beautiful day.

We also like to look at fossils. These are crinoid stem pieces in the Pennsylvanian Ely Limestone formation.

OK, so it may not look like much to the untrained eye (that would be mine two seconds before the trip leader told me what these were), but the curvy lines in this rock are the oldest and most southerly Paleoaplysina (a type of algae mound) in the world!!! Please don't stop reading this blog because of this photo and caption.

We checked out King Canyon disseminated gold deposit.

The last stop was the Ash Grove Cement plant. They mine limestone and shale from the quarry behind the plant, add quartz from a nearby sandstone quarry, and burn it at 2500 degrees F using various fuel sources, including coal, tires, and diapers, or rather the extra plastic from the diapers produced at the Kimberly Clark factory in Ogden, and out comes Portland cement.
And that is how geology is a part of our everyday lives.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We love the Utah State Fair

Last week our date night was an evening at the Utah State Fair.
We played games,

had fun with vegetables,

especially really large vegetables,

and viewed the butter sculptures of dancing cows.

Then it was off to the barns to look at real cows. Check out this humongous bull!!!,

this nice looking goat,

family time at the pig barn,
and the video of real farm action! (Turn up your sound for the full effect.)

But be careful where you put the mess.

One foot-long corn dog, one over-priced beer, a fresh Utah Pork Producers pork tenderloin sandwich, and a powdered-sugar/cinnamon-sugar funnel cake later, we just strolled the midway. We could not ride after eating all that!

New Bike!!

After 5 seasons on "Jube" the pink Titus Racer X, it was time Lucy had a new ride. I found this on the local classified ads and got it for a really good price. He is a Santa Cruz Blur XC that likes to go fast uphill, but see how stealthy he is hiding in the trees? I'm trying to come up with a name for him. It will either be El Naranja Ninja, or "Ninja Bike" for short, or Mr. Pumpkin.
Fall colors were out on Spiro. Gorgeous.

A fun little crunchy leaf tunnel.

Too bad Drew is off working in Dallas. I guess somebody has to stay home and have fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September field work in Snake Valley

Looking toward Nevada.

A couple of weeks ago Aaron (Utah Division of Water Rights) and I went back out to Snake Valley to continue our installation of spring discharge monitoring stations. We worked from sun up to sun down in the perfect September days and accomplished much toward our goal of metering six important sources of surface water. Our data will provide water users with good background information against which to gauge hydrological changes.
First, we finished up the work we started in July at Clay Spring, a smallish spring on private property that is habitat for a certain spring snail found no where else in the world. Second, we installed a radio signal gathering station at the Utah Dept. of Transportation station in Garrison. This is where all the gage height signals from the six springs will come to upload to the State network.

Garrison UDOT installation. The guy that runs this station is one great guy, as are most of the Snake Valley residents.

Third, we installed a radio repeater station near the top of a small mountain. Because this site has excellent line-of-sight to 5 of our antennas, we will collect the signal here and beam it to the Garrison site for upload.

Location of the repeater station. No trees to interfere here!

The truck in action.

Lucy in action mounting the solar panel below the radio antenna.

Moonrise over a playa that occupies what used to be a lagoon area behind a gravel bar on the shores of Lake Bonneville 12,000 years ago. It is hard for me to imagine what this valley would have looked like with the ice-age lake present.

And lastly, we installed an antenna on a local farmer's center-pivot sprinkler irrigation system to monitor how much of Foote Reservoir Spring is used for irrigation.

Antenna above the blue box on the pivot.

Epoxy, scavenging, and no boys allowed.

When the husband's away, the girls will play...

Girls' ride yesterday starting at Colin's trail to Robs to Hunters and then dropped down into Pinebrook. I had never been on the fun, tight, twisty Pinebrook singletrack because of the copious "private trails" warning signs, but on a Saturday afternoon on perhaps 5 miles of these private rich-people trails we saw exactly three other people. I guess rich people are inside playing Wii.

The company was divine, although Theresa had to bail out early because she was feeling ill. I am extremely lucky to have such athletic and happy friends. The trees are beginning to change color, so I guess I will have to admit that fall is coming. Finished the day with beer and sandwiches on the patio of O'shucks bar and grill in PC.

...and work.

Drew and I (mostly Drew) erected the frame for this privacy/shade screen on our back deck on Friday morning before he left. Then I hung the panels while he was gone. It cost us a whopping $3.15. Our neighbor is tearing off his old deck, so we salvaged the still-sound pressure treated 4x4s. The green shade cloth was from one of my very excellent street-cleanup finds. Street cleanup is this awesome thing Salt Lake City does where once a year each neighborhood has a designated day homeowners can put all their large trash items (branches, old couches, etc.) out on the street to be hauled to the dump. The part I love is that people scavenge the piles for useful stuff. "One man's trash is another man's treasure" in the purest sense. In recent years, I dare say less than 10% of the metal that goes to the street ends up in the landfill. Instead, scavengers snag it and cash it in for the recycling dollars. Anyway, years ago a neighbor was throwing out several long panels of garden shade cloth - the nylon material you can almost see through but provides shade for your greenhouse or whatever. I picked them up and have used the material to make shades for my lettuce and always planned to use them in my greenhouse. Well, the greenhouse is not in the plan at this small lot, so I used a double thickness to hang on the frame Drew built. I finally got to use my nifty grommet maker but had to buy hooks (that was the $3.15). It is only a temporary solution until next summer when we redo the deck, but it provides some privacy from the neighborhood playground being constructed next door and the neighbors' kitchen window, which looks onto our hot tub.
In other home front news, we each used a vacation day and finally got one half of the garage floor epoxy coated. I used my limited artistic ability (why did cousin Ruth get all the gift?) to paint on a Ginkgo leaf motif. I wish we had this floor in our spare bedroom.

Bobke update: He runs!!!
Picture above of what Bobke may look like after extensive reconstruction surgery. The shop where Bobke has been having an extended sleepover trip finally was able to look at the engine. After 3 hours of tinkering, mechanic man got Bobke to sputter to life and spin around the parking lot. Unfortunately, Bobke seems to have esophageal cancer (problems with the fuel intake system) and some other internal injuries (needs the engine rebuilt) plus needing hip replacement surgery (new U joints). It will be a couple of months before he is ready to go camping with us, but at least we know his medical problems are not terminal.

Monday, September 7, 2009

“This Is What We Do” – the Park City Point 2 Point endurance mountain bike race

After our enjoyable experience at the Laramie Enduro 111k in early August, and a teaser email from the organizers explaining that there were no coed duo teams registered for the race, Lucy casually announced that if I were somehow able to manage not having to fly on Labor Day as a junior captain, we should enter. So two weeks ago when my schedule came out as we sipped coffee on the first day of our supposedly relaxing Steamboat Springs get-away, I looked at Lucy and said, “I guess we are doing the PCP2P.” I had called her bluff. Never the one to turn down a challenge, when I balked at the $240 late entry fee, she said to me, “Don’t worry about the money, Drew, this is what we do!” So we tossed our helmets, er, I mean hats, into the race.

The 5th of September was a Saturday. Smack dab in the middle of a beautiful Labor Day Weekend. People for the most part in Salt Lake City were fast asleep at 5 AM dreaming of picnics in the park, hot dogs on the grill, and another day away from the office. Our household had a slightly different experience: 5 AM was greeted with three alarm clocks blaring in unison. We rubbed the sleep from our eyes and looked at each other in the dark. A quick disregard for the multiple alarms and we could be back to sleep in nanoseconds, allowing us several more hours of sleep. The sun would be up, the birds would be chirping, and everything in our minds would make sense. Instead I murmured to my wife “time to get up and get ready for the Park City Point 2 Point mountain bike race, Dear”. We clambered out of bed and started our day.
After a few cups of coffee and a big bowl of oatmeal we found ourselves up at the start line for the race in Park City at 6:45 AM.

The Race
The Park City Point 2 Point is a mountain bike race dreamed up by some of our local friends. This year was the inaugural race and there was a lot of excitement from the local race community and racers around the nation. Most mountain bike races start and finish in the same location, but the PCP2P race started at the National Abilities Center in Park City and finished at The Canyons ski resort six miles away. However, six miles of pavement does not a mountain bike race make! The course was just about the longest and most circuitous route possible to get from point A to point B: 75-miles of 95% singletrack with an advertised 14,000 feet of climbing through a network of trails in Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons.

Out of 168 participants, 134 were crazy enough to attempt this epic race solo. The two of us are still able to make the occasional smart decision and entered as a duo-coed team. Lucy took the 1st leg, which was 36 miles long and had 4960 feet of climbing. With the sun just coming up at 7 AM, Lucy and many of our friends and teammates left the start line for the first ever PCP2P mountain bike race.

(PCP2P start line.)

Lucy's Leg
The weather in Park City provided cool temperatures in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s for the event. Approximately and hour into the event a passing rain shower soaked the racers and the course. Spirits were high and there were many muddy smiles out on the race course. During stage one, I supported Lucy as she climbed and descended on the trails. The determination on her face and the amount of zeal that she attacked the course with was nothing short of incredible. A mild mannered geologist by day she is a force to be reckoned with on her mountain bike. With her teeth coated by dirt, bike covered in mud, rain spitting on her from above, and temperatures in the low 50’s she kept pushing herself. Every time I saw her out on the course she would pass by and give me a slight nod and a smile as she pressed on. The biggest challenge of stage 1 was a 7-mile, 1900-foot climb from the valley floor to the top of Mt. Baldy on a nice singletrack which deteriorated to loose gravel road and then turned onto technical singletrack usually designated as downhill-only which took an hour and a half. Solo racers later said this was the most difficult part of the race. After 4 hours and 38 minutes on the bike Lucy finished stage one and passed the baton on to me.

(Lucy riding leg 1)

(Lucy's heart rate monitor profile. HR is the upper red line, speed is the blue line, and the elevation profile is the filled red area.)

Drew's Leg
Stage two was 42.5 miles long with 5807 feet of climbing for me. The fact that I was able to race on trails I normally train on made the course almost surreal. Familiar rock and root hazards presented themselves as I made my way across the mountain. After climbing for 2 hours I descended down to the 2nd aid station. With Lucy’s help I resupplied with water and gel packets. Three minutes later I found myself climbing back away from the aid station as I choked down the remnants of my peanut butter sandwich wedge.

(Drew departing aid station 2)

(Click on the image below for details of Drew's ride.)

The next 3.5 hours was a great experience. Riding through high alpine meadows, dense wooded forests and finally descending down to The Canyons resort to cross the finish line was incredible. Lucy and I finished 4th out of 6 duo-coed teams with a time of 10:04.

(Drew crossing the finish line.)

(Coed duo podium.)
All Done for Now
After the race we hung out at the resort to watch our friends finish and enjoy the free outdoor concert and killer raffles. I won a nice raffle package, that combined with our racers’ registration bag of goodies, probably equaled in value our entrance fee. The race was a success and we look forward to it growing over the years and becoming an established event in Park City.Perhaps now with racing season officially and positively over, we will have time to devote to our home-improvement endeavors and possibly a hike or two. But for this Labor Day, we are just going to sit back and take it easy.