First off, Happy Birthday Dad! Hope you’re recovering well and will be hitting the AT soon. My dad is the one who has inspired me to write this blog and is showing me the power of making your dreams a reality as he is hiking the AT this year. I’ve always thought he would absolutely love trekking up here and hopefully one day I can make that dream happen. We usually try to hike/camp together once a summer and they are some wonderful memories and a time that I cherish. Hope you’re having a wonderful day Dad!
Besides the excitement of being my dad’s birthday, today was a bit of a rollercoaster. Today split the middle with some good highlights and arguably my lowest point of the trip so far. Research is exactly that – research. During the months of preparation, it’s great to build the excitement of the trip, especially while testing equipment to think of what-if scenarios. One of the biggest what-if scenarios that I was excited for were these GPR transects over the glacier such that we could validate or improve modeling estimates that I’ve been using the past year (the “T” on my keyboard just fell off… it’s just one of those days to laugh at).
Today was our 3rd day of GPR on the glacier. In my dream world, we would be finishing up our transects, have this wonderful dataset that I’d rejoice over back in the States, and be moving on to the next task. The low point came half-way through the day when all of the sudden the ToughBook computer started malfunctioning. When I say malfunctioning I mean the LabView program that I use to record the GPR transects began to minimize/maximize every 3 seconds… there the frustrations began. I called for everyone to stop walking, so I could try and figure it out, but with it opening and closing so frequently it was painful just trying to stop our current transect! Once that was done, I realized that I had no control of the mouse. I would control it for 2 seconds and then it would skip over to the bottom right of the laptop. Now a bit of background on this laptop – the keyboard doesn’t really work, e.g., you hit the “P” key and the laptop enters a “1”. Suffice it to say, that after 10 minutes of restarting the computer, changing the batteries, and trying various things my patience was completely gone. That dream dataset that I had envisioned was beginning to look like our GPR work was finished due to the malfunctioning laptop and with this came a great deal of disappointment. I may have hollered at the top of my lungs for a second to let out some frustrations, which I later apologized to my team members for, and they just laughed and thought it was funny looking back. The strangest thing happened though… as soon as I let it out, the ToughBook started working again. I was dumbfounded and ecstatic and simply laughed at the situation (apologized to my teammates) and then back to climbing all over the debris we went!
So the day was a bit of a rollercoaster as the GPR system was acting up. Half the transects worked, half look like they’ll be difficult to interpret. It seems that there are way to many obstacles and objects that interfere with the signal and a great deal of our walking is along the ridges to avoid bare ice faces and melt ponds, which likely does not work well with the GPR signal. There’s a steep learning curve figuring out what works and what doesn’t, but that’s all part of the research. At lunch we sat about 150 m behind the calving front on the side of a ridge. There was a stream gushing with glacial melt water only 50 m away from us. The misty rain had cleared and we were able to relax. It was one of those moments to laugh at the frustrations, realize these are all moments to learn from, and enjoy our office with a view for the day. Tomorrow we’ll shift gears to conduct some bathymetric surveys of the lake. There’s not much to it besides getting in the inflatable kayak, hooking up the sonar system, and paddling. Jonathan and Greta have expressed a great deal of interest in this, so I’ll teach them how to work the equipment and let them experience the excitement of paddling at 5000 m. After all, this should be a fun learning experience for us all.