2005 Field Season
As daily notes arrive: Camp Shyasock

10 July 2005

HOME! We pulled out and headed home yesterday.  Friday night was certainly memorable: a dark night of roaring wind, sideways rain and breaking down tents (more failing zippers). Polly, Erin and I and Agape woke up in the new REI tent Saturday morning and thankfully had weather good enough for the move-out. Striking the site and hauling everything down to the cars took about seven hours, and the packing was tight, but we made it work. Sisters treated us to the tail end of the Outdoor Quilt Show, veggie-burgers at the Ski Inn, and hard icecream shakes at the Sno Cap. Yum. An uneventful drive home and welcome hot showers for all.


8 July 2005

Heading up in just a few minutes. Sounds like Camp Shyasock may be vacated a day early: poor weather is both wrecking havoc with the research subjects and the researchers too. Erin thinks their feeding today went far better than what she would put to them tomorrow, which has been degraded by winds over the pond messing with the UV filters. So, July 9th might be the last day. Anyone thinking of suprising us with a visit Saturday night might come upon no camp, but that's what you get for not coordinating! (Please I hope no one drives up Saturday...)


7 July 2005

Last update before the pull-out this weekend. Erin and Polly have been fine - good weather today, although yesterday was a bit gusty. Should be a nice  weekend wrapping things up and hauling out gear. 

More photos from the past weekend now up on photography page 6.


5 July 2005

Long weekend, lotsa biting bugs, but folks tell me it ain't all that bad really.

Polly is along for the ride - a bit cold some nights, but great at starting campfires.

Anna and Jen camp up for a trio of nights, great company: and they brought along Lilly and Johna, and Bailey, Fenn, and Jolie (those are children, two, and dogs, three.) So for a little while there we had a Camp Shyasock population of ... eleven.

Erin and I are looking forward to this weekend and the final pull-out. It's been a long six+ weeks, but at least the weather is finally paying off with warmish days and not-so-cold nights.


30 June 2005

Last update until Tuesday July 5th. Erin has had good weather and has been enjoying her last day of "aloneness." Tomorrow, Friday, I head back up with Polly, Erin's mom, and it sounds like there is a good chance Anna and Jen from Erin's department will also be up in the area adventuring and will camp with us as well. Should be quite a fun time.

Along the lines of you never know what might happen next, today Erin's sleeping tent gave up the ghost with its door failing (zipper failure). It is a seven year old REI tent that spent some serious time with Erin in Venezuela and here and there around Oregon. IT seems the UV, humidity and temperature swings, and constant use up at Camp Shyasock for five and a half weeks have taken their toll. With the door busted the tent looses much waterproofness, and mosquitoes aren't blocked out, so we had to act fast. Good thing the REI in Eugene is open until 9:00pm - I drove down and picked up a replacement right before closing time. Timing is as good as it gets, as I will bring her the replacement tomorrow, and the weather is fine for her one night sleeping with Agape in the equipment tent.

One thing we'll be doing this weekend, pending cloud-cover, is look into the night sky for bright satellites, especially Iridium flairs. Basically these are bright flashes from space, and with the help of the heavens-above.com website you can get exact times for observations depending on your location. Kind of fun, and it costs nothing to look up into the sky at 8:57pm and 39 seconds... Considering the International Space Station (ISS) is a frequent sight, and it is manned with USA astronauts and cosmonauts, that's kind of cool too.


28 June 2005

Got back from a quick overnight this morning. Some serious winds on Sunday night left Erin a few messes, but last night was calm - just a little rain for a spell around midnight. Lucky, as the valley was covered in rain and drizzle all day. All's well at camp and Erin is looking forward to company this weekend through to the end. 


26 June 2005

Erin had a treat today in that Betsy and Rob drove up to collect from Susan's pond nearby. Erin and Agape met them in Sisters for a snack and then helped them out for an hour or so in the collecting.

Weather's a little rough tonight - some gusty winds and splashes of rain. Forecasts say it should blow through by tomorrow night. Good thing too - these last two weeks are supposed to be nice weather - something to make up for the course of poor weather Erin got for most of the first four weeks.

Here's a treat: Polly is flying up to camp out with Erin for the last week of the schedule. Erin's happy to have this time to camp out with her mom and it should make the last week a lot more comfortable and enjoyable having company around. I'll be driving Polly up on Friday.


25 June 2005

Had a nice Friday night and Saturday up at camp. Nice weather, and the mosquitoes weren't even too bad.

Erin's research seems to be going pretty well: more growth on the slides and the tadpoles (all still alive) are eating. Considering the past weeks' cold weather and troubles with the secondary and tertiary experiments, it is quite a good thing to see Erin's main work progressing smoothly. We still won't know of the experiment is a success - if the hypothetical "signal" emerges from the noise, for many weeks, as Erin has much lab work and analysis to do yet after we pull her and the gear out in two weeks.

For fun today we rented a row boat on Three Creeks Lake and rowed around a little bit. And we took Agape. Quite a hoot. Plenty more pictures up on page five, including our deeper dive into macrophotography.


22 June 2005

Wednesday morning: I just got back from a quick overnight with Erin and Agape up at Camp Shyasock. All's well and I'll be going back up on Friday. Weather-wise things are getting better - about time too considering it's now summer. Yesterday was the longest day of the year and let me tell you that's useful at a camp site. Bed at 10:00pm and the tent stays light from the sky illumination until maybe 10:30, and it starts getting light out at maybe 4:00am -- useful for a 5:15am wake-up time. I think camping out mid-winter, with the cold, massive snowfall, and 16+ hours of darkness would be an entirely different and trying experience.


19 June 2005

Sunday night - the weekend up at Camp Shyasock was pretty good. Lots of work, but improving weather. Erin had some pretty cold temperatures last week, sub-freezing nights, and colds days too. The chill was a threat to her experiment, either freezing her tadpoles, or slowing their development so much that they wouldn't be useful during the research period. The solution is a couple Coleman propane-fueled "emergency" heaters. These are 800 BTU devices intended to be used in cars in emergency conditions, and they work quite well in the "research tent" to put a little bump in the air temperature. CO build-up just isn't an issue either, with the tent walls being highly gas-permeable. Erin also hung several shiny emergency blankets in the tent to reflect inward as much heat as possible. The place looks bizarre, but readings say its working. Pictures on the way.

Monday's weather, and that for next week looks to be improving. That means less rain/snow and cold wind, but it also means more mosquitoes, which we saw a few of today. We have the necessary gear to compensate without DEET though, and the mosquito season is supposed to be very short anyway.

Being more than half-way through, we really had fun with food - a little celebratory glee, perhaps. We roasted vegetarian marshmallows, baked cookies and pancakes, made meals from boxed recipes *not* intended for eating on a hike (seasoned rice and Indian stuff), and shared a bottle of Oregon wine (Airlie Gewürztraminer). Fun stuff.


16 June 2005

Erin has made it past the mid-way point. Unfortunately, the weather is not joining in on the festivities, and it is cold and rainy again. Probably to pass by Sunday, but still no fun at all. Research remains challenging too, with the cold weather slowing down the development of some of Erin's tadpoles. We're buying up all the air-activated hard warmers in Sisters, and looking into other tricks to push the water temperatures (in the plastic cups) up a bit.


14 June 2005

Drove up yesterday after work, got up this morning at 5:15 and drove back. Short visit. Mosquitoes are out some now, although Erin said on our last call that today's wind kept them at bay. Agape seems to be getting bitten too - kind of sad, but she's a good pup and taking things in stride I think. Erin has been enjoying the better weather (it was about 40 degrees when we got up this morning! Warm by recent relative comparison.) and adapting her research and procedures as she works through the days. Interesting challenges, dropping water levels, growing pond algae, dealing with temperatures and mosquitoes and using the sun to warm cold tents (and research subjects) and to take hot showers. ... And here in Corvallis with all the modern conveniences I grumble about having to clean the kitty-litter boxes all the time.


12 June 2005

Back from visiting Erin for the weekend. Stayed over to mid-day today, Sunday. Friday night we had a nicely warming camp fire and had roasted tofu hotdogs in toasted buns for a fine dinner followed by roasted marshmallows. Yum.

Saturday we had a blast, hiking up onto the Tam Macarthur Rim. IT was a four hour hike, about five miles, and an elevation change from the pond at 6600' to the prominent lookout point at 7700'. Much snow - we were hiking through snowy patches and whole fields for about a third of the hike. Definitely a trail that's easier to follow and enjoy later in the summer. Pretty cool: about a third of the way along the trail, but up about another 500' of the elevation (7100'? - I got a GPS reading somewhere), we found another ephemeral pond, about the same size of Eric's. Quite windy too. Anyway, some photography and a few panoramas on the new fourth page of picts.

Sunday I helped Erin close down her second experiment - way early, but it ran about as long as it could. Issue: pond water level just kept getting lower, and the flow-through enclosures we build had less then 3cm of water in some cases. That's down from a standard 20-21cm just 11 days ago.

Erin's doing fine - happy to be seeing some "warmer" weather (~26 degrees over last night, still) and the forecasts only talk about the warming trend getting more serious. We're happy: better weather is a welcome change. We haven't had such a locked down inventory of our warm weather clothes and an up-to-date knowledge of the coming weather ever before. I'll be driving back up tomorrow for a short overnight and to drop back off some more clean clothes and food. Oops - gotta run and deal with the washer and dryer. ...



9 June 2005:

Erin called in this morning and evening. All's well: fine weather, but her pond is continuing to surprise her by lowering its water level even with all the rain and snow recently.

I'll be heading up tomorrow for either one or two nights. Depends on whether my voice is recovered enough for Sunday's choir or not. I'm confident Erin will assure me that my voice is in no condition to sing, and I should stay over through mid-day Sunday.


8 June 2005:

Erin headed back up to camp today - poor weather have passed. Erin had a fine drive up, and reported that at camp nothing was touched or otherwise affected by the weather. Even the snow had melted. What exactly she missed weather-wise is an unknown. The pond has lost some more water too, which is kind of odd.  


6 June 2005 (Late):

Run Away!!!! I (this is Erin) awoke to a tent shrouded in beautiful snow and a NOAA weather radio (thanks, Dad) informing me to expect two more days of snow, cold, rain, and my biggest dread: wind.  So the population of Camp Shyasock held a vote, it was unanimous, and I beat a hasty retreat to Corvallis, leaving all else back at camp. Everything not tied down was stuffed into a tent on which I installed the best security money can buy: cable ties!  I'll return to camp sometime Wednesday.

6 June 2005 (early):

Erin called in this morning - lots of new snow on the ground (odd isn't it, June) but not too much wind last night. Agape really enjoyed getting out into the fresh snow -- sounds like an inch or two. Erin is unsure what she can do today given the weather. She might just deploy a few days of slides and drive back into Corvallis for a couple days to wait out the flurries and wind! More as I learn it.


5 June 2005 - Late:

Back from a couple nights up at camp. All I can say is Erin is putting up with some dynamic weather. It seems most of Oregon is in for a serious week of low-pressure-driven cold and wet weather. It actually started back on Wednesday, the 1st of June - and will probably last through Tuesday the 7th. Two major cells linked together or something. Anyway, for us on the ground it meant a lot of cold wind today, not to mention waking up to a quarter inch of snow on the ground. The snow isn't all that bad: it happens in the mountains when the air is cold enough. The problem with a day like today is the sun doesn't come out as much - it normally has the snow melted and the ground dry in the first hour of sunlight or so - even on an otherwise cold day. And the wind - today it was rough, mixes with the cold air, no sun, and occasional flurries of snow. Ick! We had a lot of work to do today too, and that which we were normally used to doing outside had to be brought into one of the tents, making things rather crampt and uncomfortable. And our new tarp blew out a corner. And Erin had no fun in the pond working on many newly uncovered boxes (remember, uncovered arms in the water, cold wind, etc...) and even Agape gave up and took to the tent for some of the worst weather.

We did buy some comfort by driving into Sisters for a few hours. We grabbed a hot meal at a greasy-spoon (the fight is on: Sno-Cap versus the Ski Inn), bought a *lot* of 8-hour hand-warmers and equipment to fix up the tarp, and Erin bought some books to read for her extensive down time. 

Cold day - and tomorrow, Monday, should be about the same. But maybe it will be like Saturday:

Back to the "dynamic weather" part --Yesterday, Saturday, was nice! The forecasts don't differentiate much between what gave us Saturday versus Sunday, but Saturday was pretty darn good. The air temperature might not have gotten above 45degrees, but the sun did a great job of keeping us warm enough. One nice little thing we did was we took a hike out of camp to Three Creeks Lake and found the camp hosts and the folks setting up the snacks and supplies shack for the summer. Great weather for a hike.


2 June 2005:

Erin made it in this afternoon after handing off the site to Betsy and Laura (Yay super awesome team of Evan's favorite heroes!). It is nice to have Erin home for a little while. Agape came down too, and she seems comfortable anywhere. The concert seems to go over well too. 

Erin heads back up tomorrow morning, I head up tomorrow evening.


1 June 2005 (later):

Erin called in a little while ago with an update. The weather might have been colder today, but the sun pulled off a nifty trick and shone on camp for most of the day yielding a comfortable environment. Tonight could be chilly though.

Betsy is offering up "above and beyond" support for the second time by offering to camp out in Erin's place tomorrow night. Laura is coming along too, which is certainly a good thing as company can make a huge difference in terms of comfort and safety. Betsy and Laura's gesture is so that Erin can drive back down to Corvallis to listen to a concert I am singing in, and Erin gets the bonus of a really hot shower (or two), soft warm bed, and "normal" food for a couple of meals. Erin will drive back up on Friday morning.

Erin had some lingering troubles today deploying the second experiment, so she will benefit from Betsy and Laura's help for a few hours tomorrow before they make the camp hand-off.

1 June 2005 (early):

Erin called this morning sounding great - she definitely took a hold of her new, temporarily soured environment, and is making the most of it. For one she learned she can feel quite warm and comfy when wearing five layers. Snow on the ground, but nothing to worry about. Looking forward to seeing her here in town tomorrow. 


31 May 2005:

I camped out with Erin Sunday and Monday nights, driving back into Corvallis early Tuesday morning (YAWN! - early mornings :-)

The good news is we had good weather, got LOTS of work done building and deploying parts of Erin's experiments, and had great company as Dave and Tiff camped out with us Sunday night. In fact, Dave and Tiff brought some awesome food and we enjoyed Camp Shyasock's first camp fire well into the early night (11ish) before the chilly air sent us to bed. (Note: I need to bring up our larger saw. Plenty of dead wood around, but finding dry, wood with little rot that can be cut with a 12" saw is tough!)

The bad news is that after I left this morning Erin luck with weather turned sour. The day has been cold, and the wind picked up substantially, really messing with the tarps. Add to that that Agape has taken to wandering off toward where I walked out of camp in the morning and Erin's intended work for the day went far too slowly. And tomorrow should be colder still, maybe some serious rain, and likely some snow too. She tells me it is rough. Definitely a bad day.

Erin has what she needs though, and it won't be any colder in the mornings than is was on morning #1, so she'll make it through. That, and she gets almost 24 hours away from camp on Thursday (thanks Betsy!) -- so she has that to look forward to. 

Plenty more photos now.


(This page now "notes" as Erin is keeping a written journal and we might be posting pages from that some day...)

28 May 2005:

Camping and storms and work to do! I just got back from a night up at the camp. It seems I brought cloudy weather, and on my way back to Corvallis this evening, tons of rain. Erin had not seen real rain since night #1, the 21st. Just as I was driving away though, the thunderstorm we had been hearing for the previous hour finally moved over camp and gave Erin and Agape a dousing. Good thing we got all out work done earlier:

  • Cleaned out and swept tents,
  • Relocated the "research equipment tent,"
  • Built a sturdy wooden tripod for the Coleman lantern,
  • Built a rock circle fire pit,
  • Strung up a new tarp over the research tent for extra shade and cooling,
  • Cut out and cleaned up a ton of barbed wire that seems to have been left.

The barbed wire is interesting: Toward the south end of the east shore of the pond we discovered the long-dilapidated remains of a corral about 30' x 20' with a dense line of shore-line trees making the west side. Once we got a sense for the make-up, we figures that the corral was lined with five rows of barbed wire on each side. It was a challenging puzzle though as all the wire was on the ground, partially rusted. Since Agape run through that area sometimes, we decided to remove the wire so she wouldn't get tangled up in it. The design for the barbs certainly doesn't look totally modern, and several trees used for wrapping the wire around had grown entirely over the wound wire. Many trees and seemingly posts that had wire attached or around them had fallen over and rotted almost entirely, so pulling up the wire was for the most part easy. We snipped what we had to and bunched all the wire together into a large obvious (and flagged) knot for later removal. We also found a shot-up and rusted can. Any help identifying? (see pictures)

26 May 2005:

Erin checked in twice today, all is well. Great warmer weather. Looking forward to camping out together this weekend.


25 May 2005: 

All's well up at the pond. It sounds like Erin and Agape are really settling in. I will be up there soon, Friday, to fill in a few gear-gaps, re-supply some food and haul out the trash. Favorite camp meal/food so-far: hiking-packed Mountain House's Granola with Milk and Blueberries. Six more coming from REI. Speaking of REI, they sell a nice little "Tent Whisk with Dust Pan" by Coghlan for $3.

Erin reports some awesomely clear night skies and  less icy weather to wake up to each morning. I think she said "balmy" once today regarding the mid-day temperatures.

Nothing much else to report. Erin took another drive into Sisters to fill up on water and get some intensive hand cream. It seems the air is super-dry. NPR reports highway 242 opens tomorrow.

24 May 2005: Afternoon:

I talked to Erin at about 4:00pm and all was well. She told of Agape stalking squirrels and she finally got the camp shower to produce hot water.

24 May 2005:

Erin called in this morning doing fine. Cold mornings still (water in a pan freezes within an hour) but the previous day had been nice. The weather forecasts only look to be getting warmer which is welcome. The even longer days expected toward summer solstice are a boon too. Erin reports she has her camp shower working, and it heats the water to ~95 degrees, but says it is still "cold". Oh well. More work to do - we are both looking forward to visiting on Friday.

23 May 2005: Update

Erin checked in this morning sounding fine. The night was much better than Saturday night - cold, but much less wind and rough weather. Agape tends to want to chase birds until it is quite dark though, and didn't want to wind down for the night as soon as Erin did. The yellow bell Agape wears on her harness worked well though - Erin could keep track of Agape's whereabouts just by listening, and Agape did turn in a little later.

Erin also called around noon from Sisters, enjoying a decidedly non-camp-like hot veggie cheese-melt sandwich. She checked in with the forest rangers, and they were still working on getting Erin a long-distance field radio.

By the way - folks interested in seeing what Erin's field experiment look like can click here. The page is for the Scott Lake ("A Pond") set-up from about three years ago. This time we used PVC and pool floaties instead of wood and Styrofoam, but the general look is about right. I'll post more up to date photos later.

21-22 May 2005: Insertion

Much labor is complete and introductions have been made with Mr. Weather. On Saturday morning we drove up and hiked in almost all the field, camping and research equipment. The four of us and Agape carried up to camp the contents of a small car, a pickup truck bed full, and a stuffed cargo van. Thankfully there were only four 25lb cinder blocks, only ~180lb of carefully chosen bagged pebbles, only five gallons of water, and only one 44lb box of microscope slides. Everything else, including the dog food, tents and cooking equipment, miscellaneous tools, and 40 32"x32"x6.5" PVC research enclosures seemed lightweight by comparison.

We did have one hiking misstep: our first trip up the hill from where we had parked was a little more orienteering adventure than we had planned. In this image, blue dots are the route we eventually settled on, and red dots are where our first treck Saturday morning had us roam. (I think. We didn't bring a handheld GPS unit as Evan and Erin thought they had the route perfectly in mind...)

Dinner was hot, tasty and filling: take-out calzones fetched from Sisters. We were too tired to work up a decent camp-style meal. Anyway, it had started raining too.

Our first night was quite an experience. The daytime temperature was rather warm: 60s perhaps, and fine enough to sweat while hiking up the hill under load. After dark though the wind kicked up dramatically, the temperature dropped to below freezing, and an icy drizzle seemed to stick around. The noise of the more serious gusts of wind was intense, yet it seemed to be mostly relegated to the atmosphere just above the treetops, not quite through camp itself. By morning the site was frozen over with ice and it was COLD. Even Agape seemed less enchanted with the snow drifts: they were all encased in an inch of ice and were much harder to bite at. Our tents certainly held up well thanks to much use of heavy local rocks pinning tent straps down. After breakfast the sun peaked over Erin's Hill and most of the campsite snow and ice seemed to vanish.

The rest of Sunday morning was filled with simple but important tasks: tasty breakfast under the watchful eyes of Betsy and Rob, cellular telephone signal was confirmed a short walk up Erin's Hill, trash was hauled out and the remaining research equipment was hauled up. A few more pieces of camp gear were checked out and goodbyes (for now) were said.




Ideas and side comments: 

19 June:

We're told the weather usually great in June up there near Three Creeks. Erin's been chatting with the local "full-timers" - a couple who "host" one of the camp sites in coordination with the Forest Service, and another fellow who runs a snack and gear store on Three Creeks Lake. They say this has been a poor June, and boy do we have to agree. Here's hoping for three good weeks so the tail end of this rides out well and is no longer one cold-weather challenge after another. 


25 May:

We are trying to devise a way to keep cupped tadpoles (everyone else says larvae but I'm doing the writing here) from freezing overnight in the tent they will be stored during the feeding sequence. We are thinking of both passive strategies (insulation for the cups) and active heat (hand warmers?). Ideas welcome. (Update: Solved! Coleman 800 BTU emergency burners. See 19 June 2005)


23 May:

How about this route and GPS waypoints for the ridge hike in a few weeks, once more of the area snow has melted? Looks to be about five miles round-trip. (Update: Hiked! See 12 June 2005)