23 July, 1999

July 23

Yesterday we bid farewell to the stream team and to McCarthy. By now, we have been working enough with each other that nicknames for the various members of the investigation team have emerged. Dr. Cynical (PI Joe Walder) was in a big hurry to "get out of Dodge" - a figure of speech he used to indicate that he was ready to go home. He missed his family. He was tired of the rigors of field work. Don "The Man" Lindsay would have been content to stay another week or three in the mountains - he was trying to find reasons for the need to collect more data. Hanging around camp after a hard day of work was complete bliss for "The Man". Dr. Cynical won out. Dr. Honcho (PI Andrew Fountain) and I were waiting at the helicopter staging area to load the U-Haul as the equipment was flown in sling loads down from camp. The helicopter pilot delivered the loads with high precision. I was often the one standing at the staging area to serve as a visual guide to the pilot. He would fly toward the staging area with the 1500 pound loads, which were hanging from a 50-foot cable, at what I thought was a very high speed. I wondered how he would stop the momentum of the sling loads, and prevent them from swinging like a pendulum. My wondering stopped when I watched him rock the helicopter back and forth, which I assume he timed with the swing of the loads to prevent the pendulum motion I had initially worried about. He insisted on delivering the 1500-pound loads within inches of my feet. I would stand at a location, and look up at him as he approached. He would then commence lowering the loads straight down toward the ground. I would, naturally, step back. He would respond by moving the load (while being lowered) toward me. I would take another step back, and he would respond accordingly, ultimately placing the load within a couple of feet from me. Part of me was impressed with his helicopter maneuvering skills. Another part of me thought he was a wise crack. A helicopter bearing heavy sling loads was not my idea of a dance partner.

After all of the loads had been flown to the staging area, the remaining people from camp were delivered. As the helicopter approached it hovered over an adjacent, abandoned stream channel. Erin "The Stream Queen" Kraal had convinced the pilot to hover long enough for her to take some aerial photographs of the channel. She wanted to analyze the distribution of the sediment (which consisted of large boulders) for a geomorphology research project. The helicopter then made a sweeping arc and did a nose dive into the landing area. Michelle "The Lake Goddess" Cunico got out of the helicopter and complained that the daredevilish drops and dips had almost made her barf. Don "The Man" looked irritated. Erin "The Stream Queen" looked content - she had captured her photographs. Andrew "Schmack" Malm was his usual, ho-hum, understated self. Christy "The Dangerous" was, of course, giggling. She had put the pilot up to his showmanship. PIs Dr. Honcho (Andrew Fountain), Dr. Discharge (Bob Anderson) and myself were chuckling.

After the U-Haul was loaded we went down to the burrito stand at the west end of the foot bridge to have a farewell dinner with the stream team. We took some final photographs, bade farewell to our friends from UC Santa Cruz, and to our camp mate Dennis "The Animal" Trabant, climbed into our trucks, and left McCarthy at 5:00 PM. We droveŠŠŠ.

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