Expedition: July 2010

We get a huge amount done and show off our stuff at Open House

Dawn at Patriarch
Dawn at Patriarch
Teens CAN greet the dawn
Teens CAN greet the dawn
Hard at work
Hard at work
Drawing lessons
Drawing lessons
White Mountain Research Station Open House Program
White Mountain Research Station Open House Program
The arrowhead
The arrowhead

We had a big list of objectives for this trip:

• Repair and test our watering system,
• Install a new window for the right hand chamber,
• Plant some more seeds,
• Re-paint the exterior of the cold frame,
• Prospect for good artificial hypoliths sites,
• Measure 100 more trees for our Bristlecone Pines twisting project,
• Bristlecone drawing lessons with art teacher Jack Sims,
• Climb 14,000’ White Mountain Peak,
• And, give a slide show and lecture about our projects for the White Mountain Research Station’s annual Open House at the Barcroft Station at 12,500’ elevation.

We did all this and more in two days. Actually, the first thing we did wasn’t even on the list – four of us woke up before dawn Saturday to drive up to the Patriarch Grove to watch the sunrise. It was magnificent.
When we got to the cold frame the winter wheat we planted last September was a foot high. The radishes and peas we planted in June were doing OK but the Swiss chard was a failure.

Dori Cann, the Barcroft caretaker, had told us that our water pump was failing to shut off and was emptying the water reservoir too quickly. Maybe we had programmed the timer wrong? When we tested our timer and pump they seemed fine. But, the irrigation system continued to water our plants whether or not the pump was on!

Finally, we figured out that water was siphoning from the elevated water tank into the cold frame chambers. We lowered the water tank to ground level. We hope it will work properly now.

After two years in the alpine sun the cold frame was looking old. We gave it a fresh coat of white and green paint. We also planted potatoes (Alaska Frostless) and more radishes.

We then went back to the Patriarch Grove and measured 100 Bristlecone Pines on the Cottonwood Basin Overlook Trail. After dinner Jack Sims projected some of our best photos onto the screen in the classroom and taught us how to draw them.
Whew! Not bad for one day. When we woke up on Sunday we had checked off most of the items on our list. But this was going to be the biggest day of the year at Barcroft: the annual Open House.

While George and Dan stayed at Barcroft to demonstrate our cold frame to visitors, the rest of us struck out towards the peak. At the four mile mark Brennan and Mike turned back to prospect the area for hypoliths. We found plenty, and identified five possible sites for our artificial hypoliths project. Matthew, Greg, Mary, Jack and Jonathan continued uphill to bag White Mountain Peak.

At 2:45 Mike, George, Dan and Brennan gave a slide show and talk to an audience of 30+ people about our projects. It was just after the astrophysics lecture and just before the talk on bat disease, and I think we were a popular favorite.
The mountain climbers straggled back soon afterwards. They had all made the summit. Jack’s new artificial knee had worked great.

We saw a lot of wildlife on this trip: Bighorn sheep, deer, marmots, birds and Campito the wild horse. We also heard a pack of coyotes at Patriarch. Brennan found an arrowhead.

But, it was tiring. We went to bed before nine! No campfire.

What we learned:

  • The cold frame is really an engineering project, not a science project,
  • A watering system can siphon water even if the pump is off,
  • The hills and meadows above Barcroft are full of hypoliths,
  • People here really like it that a high school is using the WMRS facilities,
  • All of our problems (illness, balky cars, malfunctioning equipment, bad decisions) can be blamed on the altitude.