Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Finishing Lilla--On to Lake Hanson (March 6th and 7th)

Simon was the only that noticed my picture-taking

A beautiful day of hiking. That pretty much sums up many aspects of today. Coring-wise, we were able to finish Lake Lilla and pack the gear out to the vehicles, which only took about half the day. The cores were about as good as yesterday, but this time we were doing some sub-sampling by taking one centimeter samples of a core we'd taken yesterday. This was kind of cool. We basically just sliced off pieces of the core and bagged them in the properly labeled plastic bags. I'm really interested to see how the lab work is done on these samples, especially the full core samples.
Sadly, after we'd finished at Lilla, Scott and Feral had to leave, which was a blow to our ability to pack equipment, as they are two of the strongest people on our crew. We managed though, and after lunch headed up to our third lake: Hanson.

These two shots are of the beautiful and sacred Cradle Mountain... can you guess why they called it Cradle?

I love panoramic shots, but they never do capture the scene as it would look to the naked eye ball of a homo-sapien... This one below has some cool lookin Eucalypts on the left, not sure what species though.

This, I'm glad to say, was the best hike so far. It was a ways uphill, and the view was so spectacular... it's hard to place in words. Splendiforous Stupendipity might be close...
Once we'd ascended the ridge, we took a small break and then immediately headed down to Lake Hanson. I didn't expect to hike to the other side of the lake, but this was the only suitable location to launch our boat and extrude our samples. I quite enjoyed this little jaunt through the bushes, and we came across this beautiful staircase of roots, which I'm regretting not taking pictures of. I'm glad I saw it though.

It's a bird! No, it's a plane! Nope, just Cradle Mountain.

It appears Matt is deep in thought

It didn't take long for us to reach our location, then Simon and I paddled out on the lake and checked some depths to figure out possible coring locations. Our first depth was only a few meters, so we paddled to the other side of the lake and took some depth soundings, this was pretty cool, as it turns out, we found a depth of almost twenty meters, which is quite deep for these lakes as I understand it.
This was all we were doing for today. Packing in gear and performing a recon on the depth were our only missions, and we accomplished them quite efficiently in my opinion. After this we had only the walk out, which was equally as nice as the walk up.

March 7th
Today was another beautiful day, but this time it started out full of blue skies and sunny mountain sides. I decided to go in shorts today, which I felt very glad for doing once we got out on the trail and started the hiking. This time I brought my camera too, so I was able to do a more effective video recording of my experiences. I also got some great pictures of the landscape, plant-life, and a few insects of great importance to me and the island.
Once we'd arrived at Hanson, the coring commenced quickly. Laurie, Simon, Dan, and Cathy went out first, mainly to get the 'money-shots' I think. A lot of our movements and actions were being somewhat dictated by the film crew today, which I don't think any of us really minded... the film crew is great company, and I'm glad to have had them around today. Oh yeah, and by the way, there is a documentary being made on this project, which probably won't be out for a year or two, so who ever sees my videos will have the inside scoop on this soon-to-be-famous crew of intrepid lake corers.
Lake Hanson

 Matt and I had the privilege of going out on the boating expedition next. Simon, Matt and I ventured out onto the water with good intentions, but had a little trouble getting the perfect sample, which almost never happens as I'm beginning to find out. I once heard that “failures are opportunities for success”. I don't consider this a failure though, we did get a core, and a useable one from what it appeared, so it was far from being anything akin to failing.
When we got back to shore we extruded the core and then something peculiar happened, a camera appeared in front of my face, with people behind it asking me questions. I wasn't nervous by any means, but it felt a little weird being asked questions by someone holding a camera in front of their face. I think I did well and answered the questions honestly and accurately. I guess though, I'm not done with the camera stuff yet. They told me that I still have an interview to get through before I'm totally done with the camera work. I really don't mind, it's just different to have that kind of attention.
They had a limited amount of time to do some shooting for the day, so regrettably, they had to leave in order to make their helicopter flight. They were to come back later and do a flyover with their cameras and record us doing science from a bird's eye view. I thought this was a great idea and wished I could have joined them, but my responsibilities were on the lake, with my crew. I'm glad I'm not a camera guru or on the film crew. I love those folks, but I don't think I would quite enjoy that work as much as I enjoy coring and extruding sediment samples.
After a few attempts we were able to get some pretty decent cores from Lake Hanson, and I got a very in depth explanation of the layers and what certain parts of the core represented. I find it absolutely fascinating how we are able to look so far into the past to reveal these momentous events for the first time in human history. I feel like I'm a part of a hugely important process of understanding that could bring our people knowledge that may one day save our species from an untimely extinction. Although extinction is totally natural, the untimely extinction of a species is what's truly tragic in my opinion. Species go extinct and always will, it's a very natural and important process for the biology of this planet. But, when something disappears for nothing but economic gain or out of its own ignorance, that can be a little sad and possibly deleterious to the ecosystem in which it lives.

These ants are meaner than a pissed off wallaby. They actually jump after you when you get too close. It took me a long time to get these semi-decent pictures... they really don't like their picture taken.

There was a lot of down time today, which gave me ample opportunity to take some great photographs of the surrounding landscape and biota. I got some excellent pictures of Jack Jumper ants (Myrmecia pilosula), the deadliest creature on the island, killing more people than snakes, spiders, wasps and sharks combined. I also got some really good shots of some indigenous plant life and the geography of our local. I'm really glad I decided to bring my camera today, there are some good memories now locked in digital form, ready to be shown to the world.
After we'd finished coring we had to wait for the film crew to do their fly over, which ended up taking quite a long time. It turns out they didn't really get any good shots of us anyway. This is unfortunate, because I know how powerful an image from above can be, if done right. Oh well, I'm sure they'll figure out a way to compensate for this loss. Time for bed...
We found this cute little froggy while cleaning the corer

Almost looks like a bonsai tree

Which once of these pictures do you think is the best... I couldn't decide. But, of course, I'm biased in these matters.
My stubs are a flailin

This is a great example of perspective. On the left you have what appears to be a huge canyon that one would zip-line across. On the right you have Simon in the background for scale.

I had to gently move this guy before we could pack this bag up

Isn't he cute!

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