Monday, March 7, 2011

3-6-11 More Pix of Tuckerman Ravine as Snow Funnels Into the Bowl (in progress)

Rain is thundering on the roof and lacquering the storm windows as I write this (Sunday, 3-6-11) and just the sound of it, along with seeing two dead skunks on the road to Mt. Skinner the other day, are sure signs Spring is here. The sun is warmer, too, and the light has been lovely in the long afternoons. That's all good news to some, but in the mountains snow will be in the picture for some time to come; at least three more months. From these photos copied from the U.S. Forest Service's Avalanche Info website you can see how the snow in Tuckerman Ravine is piling up both from storms and drifting. Looking closely you can see tracks of "spillage": snow that come down into the gullys from above. As I write this it's snowing on the high peaks with more than a foot of new snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning. The depth of snow at the snow stake in Tucks is 63 inches (3-5-11), not much to write home about, but getting there. The photo above was taken on 2-23-11 and the ones that follow below were taken 3-3-11 and there's been visible buildup over the week.

Looking across the bowl from the Lobster Claw to The Chute. Lunch Rocks (Bottom center of photo) are nearly covered and the gradient of the slope indicates a good buildup of snow in the bowl already with more snow on the way.

Readers have been chiding me for not writing as much as I normally do and it's a sad fact that I haven't been North for the entire winter. Not since December 27th. So I'm chaffing at the bit to get up there. I'd planned a trip to Lonesome Lake for this weekend and was going to head up yesterday but the weather was really awful with sleet and rain and slush underfoot.

Looking up Left Gully and The Chute on the south side of the bowl.

In lieu of hiking I've been working on two projects for this blog. One is putting together a "key" with a comprehensive index for Appalachia, the AMC's esteemed journal, from 1910 to 2000. I've been thumbing through my collection of roughly 40 issues dating from 1928 to 1963 and listing all articles that are specifically about the White Mountains under various headings. The headings include Natural History, Animals, Birds, Plants, Geology, Glaciology, and Weather. Other headings include articles dealing with History, Trails, Huts, Science, Legislation involving the mountains, Swimming Holes, Research, Obituaries, Logging Railroads, Reminescences, Deaths, Accidents, Rock and Ice Climbing, and hundreds of Photos. I'll probably assemble it as a separate blog linked to this blog. That way it can be kept up to date easily and readers can add things they've found as comments. The index will be to the side. Issues will be in a chronological sequence by year and month with selected articles from each issue listed by title, subject and author. The index will list the title, author and subject separately in alphabetical order along with the specific issue they appear in. The draw back is that the articles themselves won't be available in the blog, just a means to identify the issue of Appalachia containing a desired article. What I might do is ask Becky Fullerton, the librarian at the AMC headquarters in Boston, MA., if it would be possible for people interested in an article to write or email her and receive by hard mail or email a photocopy of the desired article for a nominal price. The two complete sets of Appalachia that I know of are at the Boston AMC office (5 Joy Street) upstairs in the library and at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, NH, upstairs in the library there as well. There are probably other complete sets with public access in other locations which I will try to identify.

The reason for all of this work is to open up Appalachia to everyone interested in the White Mountains for a multitude of reasons. Appalachia, after all, contains a vast treasure of vital and interesting information about the White Mountains and mountains across the globe, even detailed information about snow and avalanches, mountain medicine, mountain weather, ghost stories, lots of history particularly about famous expeditions to the far ranges during the past 120 years. So it's a great resource with great articles and stories meant to be read over and over again!

The top of The Sluice ready to be skied. Unfortunately the avalanche danger is high and probably will remain high for the rest of the week if a lot of fresh snow arrives Sunday and Monday.

My second project has been to identify all the aquatic plants photographed last summer that I'll photograph again this coming summer as I repeat research Lawrence Collins completed in the summer of 1965 of aquatic plant populations in Eagle Lake and Lake of the Clouds. As I looked through his thesis and the maps of the four lakes where we collected data I remembered the day we almost got arrested for flying upside down through Franconia Notch. Larry had a small plane, an Aircoupe, that was the Volkswagon Bug of airplanes. It's main safety feature was that if you got into trouble you flew close to the ground, jumped out and ran ahead of it and stopped it before it hit anything. It was an underwing aircraft so to take photos straight to the ground when making maps you had to roll the plane up so the wings were a little more than perpendicular to the ground. One morning we were photographing Echo Lake and Profile Lake in Franconia Notch to make an accurate map of the shoreline and we were up about 500 feet. Larry rolled the plane over and I shot several frames of Profile Lake hanging upside down. Out of the corner of my eye I could see some people at the Old Man of the Mountains viewing area looking up at us including a New Hampshire State Policeman. We continued down through the notch and then circled and came back through and took a few more photos before heading back to the Franconia airport located on the Kinsman Notch Road. We looked down and saw the state police cruiser, blue lights flashing, right below us. He was heading to the airport. We thought of heading to another airport but reasoned that it might be futile. After we landed we taxied back up the strip to our car and the policeman waved us over to where he was standing. We got out of the plane with our equipment and could see he was angry and about to yell at us. When he saw the cameras and lenses he calmed down a little and asked us what we were up to. We explained the whole deal and he let us go but we laughed about it for the rest of the summer.

This is the map of Profile Lake that Larry made from the photograph.

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