16 December, 2001
Question of the Day: What two ways does the wind help meteorite hunters? (Answer appears at the end of this journal entry.)
"What a Day!"
There must be some connection between fright and fatigue. Today I experienced another "challenging" few moments. Although the winds had not yet died down, the skies seemed to be clearing, so the decision was made to make today a work day. (After having two snow days in our tents.)
Because the weather is so unpredictable, John and Ralph (our leaders) decided that we should do some "foot searching" in the moraine areas rather than skidooing across the windy ice fields. We boarded our skidoos (after digging them out of the snow) and took the round-about way around the hills . . . or so I thought. John was forging a new trail, and we somehow ended up at the top of a very high ridge. We skidooed the ridgetop for awhile, but eventually we had to skidoo down.
The "downhill" route John chose was an ice-covered 45 degree slope! Very steep and very long! One by one we slowly had to use our brakes to "slide" down the slope on our 750 pound skidoos. (If we accidently let go of the brake, we would lose control and "fly" down the hill on our skidoo!) There was complete silence from the group as each person slowly made their way down the slope. Thank goodness, we all made it safely. But, yes, it was frightening!!
After that experience, everything else seemed to be a "piece of cake", although I became very tired early in the day. I think my nerves were a little frazzled. My bones and muscles seemed to ache, too. But I recovered. We spent all morning searching moraines. This is very difficult work because any meteorites in the area are mixed in with thousands of terrestrial rocks that have been "weathered" off the nearby ridges. That means that the dolerite, slate, coal, and sandstone in the area are all mixed up with what might be meteorites. It's frustrating to look through all those rocks! I kept mistaking coal for a meteorite. To me, they look very much alike. I was told, though, that coal has layering while meteorites do not. That helped.
Our search in the moraines was unsuccessful, so we moved on to systematically traverse a nearby ice field. Once, again, we were unsuccessful. It was now mid-afternoon, and the skies had clouded over, and the winds had picked up. It was time to head home!
John led us home using a "short-cut" over an unsearched ice field. It was here that we found 8 meteorites. John says this is called "high grading" because we were not systematically searching the field, and we will have to return to search it again properly.
We arrived at camp by 5pm which was considered early. We were all tired and achey, but we had to refuel, cover our skidoos, and prepare for dinner. My tentmate, Nancy, and I had to go through our refrigerator/freezer (cardboard boxes covered with tarp and left out in the snow) to find dinner for tonight. We decided on curry chicken with rice. Not bad. Nancy says it tastes good only because we're out in the field.
Answer to today"s "Question of the Day": #1 The winds blow snow off ice fields uncovering fallen meteorites.
#2 The winds assist in the sublimation of the ice at the base of the mountains
allowing more meteorites to be revealed.
*Fill a small shoebox with sand.
*Bury a handful of rocks approximately 1/4 - 1/2 inches under the sand. *Place the shoebox outside against a wall.
*Use a hair dryer (on high) to simulate the wind. (You may need to use an extension cord. Get permission!)
*Blow into and across the top of the sand until the "meteorites" are revealed.
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