Saturday, 10 March 2012

Rodway Adventure (March 9th and 10th)

This was quite an epic adventure, and turned out to be a true test of my ability to listen to the surrounding landscape, and my own intuition. I'm glad we were able to stay overnight in this specific location, which happened to be at Lake Rodway, behind Cradle Mountain. The day before, we hauled in the gear to a location just before this lake, and then on day number 8 we went in to haul the rest of the gear and then to do some coring at a place called Flynns Tarn.
Flynns Tarn
I feel like we were quite successful in this aspect, but we had some problems with the short core, which ended up having a bunch of plant matter that kept getting 'shoved' down into the core by the corer. We didn't really find this out until we had taken the core and started to extrude it a half centimeter at a time. After taking a few samples into the baggies, we realized that it was really gooey and didn't give very good samples. This may have been due to its geographic location and the fact that it was more of a 'wide-spot' in the river, as apposed to being a lake in and of itself. So, there was a lot of detritus on the upper level of the sediment, which caused problems when extruding at half centimeter increments.

I think "hut" is Tassie for what ever kind of structure you see here
After we'd accomplished our task for the day, Cathy (our principle investigator) and Bob (her husband, or "the old guy", as he would refer to himself) headed out for the night, and the four of us (Simon, Laurie, Matt and I) continued a little further down the trail to stay at the Scott-Kilvert hut located a short way from Lake Rodway. When I heard that we were going to stay at the hut I didn't picture the opulent setup we were in for. It was actually quite nice. There was a fireplace, two tables, and all sorts of reading material to entertain us for the evening. We came across this really sad story about a young man and his teacher who had died in a blizzard that hit them as they were trying to leave the Cradle Mountain area. It turns out that they were out on what the Tassies call a “Bushwalk”, when all of a sudden they were confronted by a blizzard. The young man was exhausted and so his teacher was carrying him. Then at some point the young man fell and broke his back, this is when the teacher sheltered him and tried to keep him from being exposed to the elements, which was an attempt that ended in failure, as the young man died from exposure. This is where the teacher left him and tried to make it out to the rest of the group, which had gotten separated in the dark the day before. He almost made it out, but froze to death only 200 meters from the boathouse in which the group was taking shelter. This was a grim reminder of how dangerous it is for people to be out in the weather without proper gear or preparation. I don't think I would ever have put myself in this situation to begin with, and if I had, I would have been prepared for the weather to turn. Who knows though, these things are easy to say, but almost impossible to completely prepare for. “You can die out here”, as I have been hearing over and over on this trip... I'm beginning to see the truth in this statement.
Once we'd read over this sad tail of death, we cooked dinner and ate a gourmet meal of peas, beans, and some kind of spicy Asian mix stuff, which turned out to be pretty good. Not quite as good as what we'd been eating, but good none-the-less. I think food just naturally tastes better when eaten in the back country though. I don't know why, but this has been true in my experience.
Early the day before (March 8th) I slipped on a rock and twisted my left knee awkwardly, but I didn't think much of it at the time. It wasn't until today that I realized that my knee was actually really hurting, and by the time we had reached the hut I couldn't even bend my leg any more. This made me extremely mad, and frustrated me because I knew I should have been taking it a little easier on the downhill sections of our hikes. I guess that's another lesson learned the hard way, but now I know I should be stronger, as long as I let my knee heal properly and get some good rest.

We enjoyed our meal and then sat around for a while. Matt told an interesting story about how a man proved his love for a woman by walking far enough to wear out three pairs of moccasins. When he finally arrived at his destination, he was told to turn around and go back, but with a special gift. This gift ended up winning over the people who doubted him, and his perseverance proved to this woman that he was worthy of her hand in marriage, despite his lack of perceived wealth. Then I told the story of “the lost children” which is kind of a scary story that parables the importance of children to any society, and how we should respect them. It's a long story, so I won't get into that, but in short, it takes many turns and is one of the few stories that has a very good and happy ending. This is about when we decided to hit the hay for the evening. I don't know about the others, but I slept quite well that night.

Here is a medicine wheel that Matt constructed. I let him borrow my camera when he went out for a walk. I didn't go with because of my recently aching knee. I'm glad I didn't though, because these pictures may never have been taken if I'd gone along with him.
Lake Rodway
March 10th
The next morning we awoke to a clearing day and some wonderful oats with fruit. I had saved a piece of cheese from the day before, so I was able to get a little fat into my system for the morning. We kind of took our time getting ready and we were able to be out on the trail by around 9:30 or so. We quickly made it to Flynns Tarn and finished our very last core of the entire mission. This moment was a little depressing, as I knew we wouldn't be doing any more coring with this specific group of people, and then the realization that we would be splitting up set in and I got a little bummed about the whole situation. I understood this moment was coming, but I didn't quite want it to come so soon. I know I will miss these people. But, now it's time to move on to our next adventure.
Another meditation location
I came across these two awareness posters in the outhouse, which was about as opulent as the hut. I wish there were more things like this in the United States. If people were made more aware of things I think they would generally make better decisions. There are also signs above light switches that read, "Please help us be sustainable, flip off the lights when not in use." Also, there are signs above many faucets and around showers that ask people to use only as much water as they need, reducing water waste as much as possible. I feel like these things would go a long way in America to increase awareness and decrease consumption. I don't know, maybe people would just tear them down, saying snarkily, "Don't tell ME what to do!" Although I would like to have more confidence in my fellow citizens, experience has taught me that many people living in the United States can be mean, ignorant, or just plain old lazy. Oh well, I guess that's why I'm in the field of study I'm in... to change peoples minds for the better, hopefully. 

 These pictures barely capture it, but the sunrise on this morning was especially beautiful.

Belladina montana
My knee felt much better today, but still hurt quite a bit. So, I made sure to take it extra slow and walk steadily. I think this was Creator's way of telling me to slow down and wait for people, because I had been going far ahead of the group the last few days, and knew I shouldn't be moving so fast. The only thing that felt off about this was that I was so used to moving at that pace that it almost seemed harder to slow down. But, as I said before, a lesson learned the hard way... take it slow and steady, instead of fast and constant, which is how I usually hike. I'm glad this happened, it was a humbling realization that needed to come sooner or later.
This last core seemed to be a good one, we had some plants in there and I was able to get some very good photos of the corer and the process of hardening the top with a fascinating substance called Zorbatrol. This funky chemical turns into a jelly-like hardened surface when combined with water, but initially starts as a powder. It's quite interesting stuff that I would like to know more about. Perhaps I'll Google it when I get internet... perhaps.
 Here are a few photos that attempt to show the Zorbatrol in action... and also the necessary draining of the core, with a subsequent hack-sawing at he water-line.

Tim-Tam delivery... yeehaw!!!
Since this was our last core, all we needed to do was haul the gear back out to the cabins. Scott had come back to help with all of this, so the weight was spread fairly evenly across our packs. I think Bob had a little more than other people though, not sure.

It was a luxury to discover that these three wonderful people (Scott, Bob, and Cathy) were nice enough to bring some Tim-Tams back with them. So, we had our ritual Tim-Tam break and then packed our gear for the return hike. Before we left the area though, we did return to the hut for some lunch and one last paddle around Lake Rodway. I didn't include any pictures of this... those are just for me. :)

Our journey back was taking us back over Hanson Peak, a pretty decent climb if you ask me. Not the highest peak I've ever scrambled along, but the trail is pretty steep, and having a busted up knee didn't help much either. Needless to say, I was moving a bit slower today. But, this gave me ample time to take some very awesome pictures from up-top. Here they are. The panoramic is directly on top of Hanson Peak, and a few more of the way down.

 We made it out by about four pm and then found out the key for the van had been misplaced. After some searching and a little bit of stressing, Bob found the key in Matt's pack, and we were off. On the way back I felt unusually good about our progress. I feel like we have truly accomplished something here, with the coring and everything. But, aside from that, I feel like I have been truly blessed in being able to spend this time with the people I have spent it with, and also for being given the chance to exist next to the plants and animals that I have existed next to for the last week or so. This is a special thing for me, and I'm sure will play heavily on my development as an individual as I learn more about myself and the nature of existence.


  1. Such a beautifully written travelogue so far, Splqwa :~). I am still not completely clear on the whole process/purpose of "coring," though the pictures were good. What are you guys going to be able to ascertain based on the results that you were getting with the Zorbatrol? I'll google it later to educate myself a little more . . .

    Loved some of the Tassie words - "Tim-Tam" made me giggle aloud. And I guess I would have called that shelter a "Tin-Hut" or a "Tin-House" or a "Tin-Cabin"? It's so fascinating just how much imagery can be packed into a single-syllabic word in any language, and how the diversity of connotations implied can be (oftentimes is) as diverse as the groups of speakers of that language. My "hut" concept would never have included anything that size, or constructed of a metal . . . which means that if I had seen the word used casually in any kind of document written by a writer local to that area, I would have naturally brought into the story my own (perhaps extremely Americanized?) association of something smaller, more crude, more temporary and made of cloth/skin/plant or animal fiber . . . so thanks for clarifying, and asking readers to ponder their own definitions of this word ;-).

    Gorgeous photos . . . and hopefully Matt's medicine wheel will be there for a while . . . regardless of what our conceptual associations related to the word "while" may be. Enjoyed the read :).

  2. My bad as far as the coring question goes . . . I had read the most recent post prior to reading those which preceded it. Very cool process. But still wondering what is the purpose of hardening the surface at the end . . . is the Zorbatrol just an agent that's being used to seal off the sample?

  3. Yes, it is exactly that. I'm sure the application of Zorbatrol goes beyond just this, but that's what we used it for.