Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a drowned forest

"Rollin' down the stream, shootin' pho-tos, sippin' on pumpkin ale. Laaaiiiid back. Got my mind on my boat and my boat on my mind."

Our most recent kayak trip took us back to Foster Reservoir. This time, however, we didn't just paddle around the lake...we went up the Middle Santiam River, which feeds the lake. When we first arrived we were shocked to find that the water levels had dramatically dropped (at least 10ft) from what they were earlier in the summer. We assumed that they had released this water from the Foster Dam to clear out the trapped sediment or make way for the snow melt that will soon replenish the supply.

It was so nice paddling here this time of year! During the summer there are typically loads of people on motorized boats buzzing around and water skiing or cruising on jet skis. There actually wasn't enough water to even launch a boat in at this time of the year-- the water levels were well below the end of the boat ramp!

In many areas that were covered with what seemed to be deep water just months earlier, now revealed a graveyard of trees that once lived in the area before the dams were constructed. We could see their tangle of roots, which had been exposed by months of water rushing through, scouring out the earth beneath them.

The peacefulness of the lake was amazing! The water was like glass, reflecting the bright yellows and oranges from the fading leaves. Tall bleached rock walls exposed by the lowered water levels surrounded us as we made our way through the calm river.

We were also fortunate enough to witness lots of bird activity while paddling. In addition to a group of common mergansers and a great blue heron, we heard some of the most lovely songs from a bird that I couldn't identify. He was a tiny little thing that I couldn't even see until I paddled too close and he was gone in a gray flash!
After we paddled for a few hours, we came to a barrier in our path...a tree had recently fallen and blocked off the entire river. Determined to not let this prevent our travels, we attempted to take the kayaks out of the water and portage them up and over the steep rock walls that surrounded us. This was no easy feat. After a lot of effort, we did manage to get my kayak to the other side of the river, but soon realized that we didn't have much time to paddle on before dark. Dave then climbed out onto the tree (I tried to stop him) and lifted the kayak back to the side from which we started so we could head back.
All the while, this little bird was hopping along next to us. He was the cutest little thing, but he made sure to stay just far away from me so that I couldn't get a good picture.

The trip back to the car was equally as delightful. The air was growing cool and the surface of the water was flecked with fallen leaves. This is no doubt my favorite time of the year.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

'perpetually' beautiful

Last weekend, Dave and I drove out to Newport early in the morning so I could start my volunteering with the Surfrider Foundation's water quality testing program. Since it only took a few minutes to collect the water samples from the coast, we decided to take advantage of being at the beach and went for a hike on Cape Perpetua. When we got out of the car at the top of the trail, the winds were RIPPING!!! It was also extremely foggy and rainy so we couldn't see the gorgeous views blanketed by the white mist.

Hiking in these poor weather conditions is such a blast! I feel so warm and protected from the harsh winds and cold rain when I'm tucked inside my rain gear. The only problem was that I couldn't keep my camera out and ready for the amazing shots along the way. I must get my camera a raincoat too!

By the time we got down the coast, the rain stopped and the fog cleared allowing us to witness the angry waves crashing into the rocks all around us. I'm actually really surprised they let people walk down around these basalt tidepools because it can be really dangerous for an unmindful spectator.

water rushing back to the sea after being heaved up onto the rocks by violent waves

The sky started to clear!
Wave interaction is my favorite.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

beginning of fall

The leaves are beginning to fade, the air is growing crisp, and the rain is starting to fall. This can only mean one thing the Pacific Northwest...autumn is here. We finally broke down and are now starting fires in the fireplace at night in order to wake up to a pleasant warmth.

To kick off the beginning of fall, we hosted a pumpkin carving / Canadian Thanksgiving (Greg's Canadian) celebration at our house last Sunday.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

last of 2009 summer field work...

Now that school is back in session, my adventures will be limited to the few weekends that I can afford to get away from classes/research. I thought I would post some pictures of my most recent field work expedition before I get too entangled in day-to-day stresses of student living. The last field location of the survey season was Rockaway, OR-- a very small town on the Northern coast.

We had outstanding weather! It was warm and sunny for 2 of the 3 days we surveyed...very unlike the Oregon coast.
This is the typical scene for many of the coastal towns in Oregon....houses in hazardous areas. The second shot shows some riprap revetment placed in front of the hotel to prevent the dune from further eroding.

Because of all the sunshine and warm temperatures, our monitor on the jet ski kept overheating and shutting down. We thought of many ideas to alleviate the problem, ice packs, mini-umbrellas, and of course, aluminum foil! However, this idea also failed and the problem persisted.

One of the days we also had a very large wave event with waves reaching ~7.5 feet! We decided to attempt the survey anyway and luckily, I was a part of the support crew on land! This allowed me to get a few nice shots of some waves...

A funny thing happened on the third day of field work...we were sitting in the car watching the survey crew on the water and out of the mist came hundreds of people! They looked like zombies as they slowly marched towards us. I still have no idea what they were doing, but as they got closer it turned out that they were a bunch of children on a field trip or something...
The picture below is the Tillamook Bay jetty with the bay inlet on the right and the ocean on the left. This inlet is notoriously dangerous for boats when crossing the bar. One day this week when we were launching the survey boats, the Coast Guard was actually towing in a fishing boat that had capsized while trying to get out!