Today, I was planning on finishing everything up on the glacier and whether it was rain or shine I was determined to make this happen – as you can guess it was rain. Out of the 8 hours we spent on the glacier today, it probably was not raining for perhaps 2 of them. That’s where the umbrella I purchased in Lukla finally came in handy as it was able to shield the dGPS computer and my notebook from getting soaked. We spent about 4 hours doing dGPS of another 25 points. Afterwards we made some slight alterations to the wind tower by removing the main wind speed and wind direction sensor and mounting it on the stainless steel AWS. It’s not that I don’t trust the PVC pipe to withstand a year’s worth of harsh conditions – okay, that’s exactly the reason… I wanted to hedge my bets and in case the PVC wind tower fell apart some time during the next year, I wanted to make sure that the main wind sensor is safe and sound attached to the stainless steel tripod. Fingers crossed the wind tower survives.
I also took the 2 hrs of cloudy skies to back up all the SfM photos I had previously taken. I have to check the numbers once I download all the photos, but I believe I took 1,000 photos over a 15 m x 60 m plot of land. Before I had taken the downwind and upwind sections on different days and I figured it couldn’t hurt to get them all in one fell swoop such that I can hopefully process them all together. It’s going to take an insanely long time to process, but I’m excited to see the end results. Once we finished up the changes to the AWS, the dGPS, and the photos, I downloaded the weather data and proceeded to the time-lapse camera to grab all the photos that we have so far.
As I was getting the time-lapse camera, the glacier/lake decided to speak out quite a bit! For a span of 5 minutes, there was just the sound of constant movement of avalanches and landslides in addition to what sounded like the ice creaking perhaps calving a little bit. Sadly, everything was so foggy/misty that I couldn’t see a thing. All I had was my imagination / curiosity trying to fill in the blanks as to what all the various sounds were. While we’ve been out on the glacier, we’ve seen our fair share of landslides into the lake from the lateral moraines. These hardly produce any wave and are quite harmless due to their small size. We’ve heard many avalanches, but have only actually seen one down Imja Glacier. It stopped as soon as it hit the debris covered area and was quite far away from us at the time, so we were quite safe. This was the first trip where I’ve really witnessed so much activity and I’m guessing it’s due to the time of year, where snow is starting to be dumped on the upper unstable portions of the glacier and consequently avalanches must occur fairly frequently.
Back at camp it feels a little bittersweet. It’s quite empty without my other team members and their tents have all been packed up and sent down. They even took half of my kitchen table! So now it’s just space for two people to sit across from one another. It makes me think of Big Brother (perhaps the newest season has already started!) when the main table shrinks as contestants get eliminated. Being solo up here certainly makes me ready to start heading down. Plus, over the last couple weeks we truly have accomplished everything we set out to do, which is a great feeling. When I’m back in the States, I always look forward to these trips – the simple life-style of sleeping in a tent and being off the grid, gives plenty of time to relax and think, catch up on books I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and focus on staying healthy so all the work can get done. The scenery is also unbeatable, granted during this time of year you really don’t get to soak it in like in non-monsoon months. It’s still quite breathtaking though and makes me feel incredibly grateful and lucky that this is what I get to study. At the same time, I do miss the little things – like some good clean clothes, bed sheets that don’t smell like some sweaty person has been sleeping in them the last two weeks, a nice warm shower, some fresh food like a chicken ceasar salad, having a bathroom that’s not a toilet tent, and most of all being able to get back in touch with friends and family. I’m anxious to hear how my dad’s Lyme disease is going and if he’s back on the trail. And most of all I can’t wait to catch up with Leigh and here how everything’s going. Being off the grid certainly has its perks and I love it out here, but after declaring this trip a success, I’m excited to get connected once again.