29 June, 2000

June 29, 2000

Yesterday I indicated in my journal entry that we had just discovered that the seismology equipment was not shipped from Seattle to Anchorage. A decision has been made in this regard - we will go on to McCarthy without it. Due to an oversight by the shipping company, the equipment is sitting on the docks in Seattle. It would mean a 5 day delay to wait for it to arrive in Anchorage. Seismic data is an interesting aspect of the project, but not a critical part of the project. Drilling into the glacier, surveying the glacier dam, and monitoring the lake in a timely manner and as soon as possible before the flood is critical.

We (the glacier team - 8 of us) left Anchorage with our giant U-Haul of a truck and an SUV for McCarthy. The drive took 9 hours, and we arrived at a camping spot at 11:00 PM. In Oregon (where I am from), setting up camp at 11:00 PM is a challenge because of the dark, lighting conditions. Here at McCarthy it was a snap - it was completely light out. Sunset is at midnight.

The drive consisted of 5 hours on paved highway, and 3 hours on dirt road. The dirt road ended at a cobbled parking area located on the western bank of the Kennicott River. To get to the town of McCarthy you need to park, walk across a footbridge, and continue along a gravel road another .5 mile to the town. The existing footbridge was built in 1997. It was, of course, engineered to withstand the full force of the Kennicott Glacier outburst flood. It includes 8 large pilings that were pounded into the outwash till approximately 300 feet and into bedrock (mudstone). Large steel I-beams are connected to these pilings with large bolts and span the width of the river (about 50 meters). It is a stout bridge for sure. It needs to be. Earlier bridges were destroyed by the flood. Prior to 1997, the only sure way to get from the end of the McCarthy road to the town was to use a two-person hand trolley suspended along a cable that spanned the Kennicott River. The method has now been made obsolete.

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