I Think I Can

    The target for today was a small remnant glacier near the Wildhorn mountain peak called GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity. du Wildhorn.

    I’m glad I didn’t know the details of the ascent before I did it, because that would of just given me time to get anxious about the climb. And boy let me tell you, it was hard. It was not an especially long distance, maybe 2.5 or 3 miles total. However, you gained ~3,000 feet in altitude over that distance. It felt like my ankles were permanently bent at an angle while hiking. Going up was brutal and going down was a different type of hard. A large part of the path was loose gravel and I felt that if I took my eyes off the path or relaxed my guard for a fraction of a second that I would slip or fall. In fact this happened more than a few times.

    Wildhorn 1
    View along the hike up to Glacier du Wildhorn.

    Wildhorn 2
    Farther along the trail up to Wildhorn, you can see that it becomes mostly loose gravel. Not easy to hike on.

    Wildhorn 3
    Taking a break to catch my breath and snap a selfie. I might be smiling, but I was struggling by this point.

    There is this one point in the trail that is basically straight up and there are some metal poles and steps hammered into the rock and ropes to assist you. As I looked up this next obstacle, I lost my footing again in the loose gravel, and nearly lost it. A few deep breaths later, I hauled myself up the steps.

    Wildhorn 5
    The part of the trail that almost broke me. Straight up!

    Wildhorn 6
    Yup, that is super steep. But getting close to the top.

    I basically had a running stream of expletives mixed with thoughts of defeat running through my head the entire time. I was the tortoise in which slow and steady didn’t win, but at least finished the race. I was the little engine that could. I don’t know, insert your favorite literary reference of this trope, and that was me.

    Wildhorn 7
    Me when I reached the top of the trail.

    Wildhorn 8
    Don't worry, I'm alive… sorta.

    Glacial GeomorphologyStudy of the characteristics, development, and origin of landforms.

    Physical exertions aside, the views along the hike were spectacular and I got to see some awesome examples of geomorphology, or ways the glaciers have shaped the land.

    The hike was through a U-shaped valley. Because glaciers erode the land underneath everywhere the ice touches the ground, it results in a broad valley that forms an approximation of the letter U when you look at the valley in cross-sectional view.

    Wildhorn 4
    A look back down the valley and you can see the U-shaped valley that was carved by the glacier.

    While closer to the top of the forefield, we got a nice glimpse of the Wildhorn GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.. We could not see the outer tongue of the glacier because it was behind a mountain peak. We could see the path it took and the terminal moraine (or a pile of rocks and/or sediment deposited at the point of furthest advance of a glacier or ice sheet) it left behind during its most recent advance.

    It is highly likely that this moraine was formed during the glacial advance that occurred during the “Little Ice Age.” The Little Ice Age is a time between 1300 and 1850 (although experts disagree on the exact timing) when there was a marked decrease in average global temperatures. During this time many mountain glaciers across Europe, Alaska, New Zealand, etc. experienced a period of significant growth (or advance). Historic records show cooler temperatures worldwide and many blamed the cold for the famine and disease that was often widespread during this time period.

    Further testing would need to be done to confirm if this moraine was formed during the Little Ice Age, but we can say that it was formed during a brief period of glacial advance.

    Wildhorn 9
    Beautiful terminal moraine left behind by the glaicer. Look for the horseshoe shaped black line. That is the ridge of the moraine.

    Striations were more difficult to see in this area because it was highly eroded. We were able to find and measure some to get an idea of the general ice flow direction. We also had some additional clues from the surrounding rock. We observed a bunch of the orange red boulders lying around in the forefield, and could tell that they came from somewhere else since they didn’t match the color or rock type of the bedrock. When we looked off in the distance, we could see the same orange red color in the rocks in the wall of the cliff face. This was clearly the source of these boulders, and when we measured the direction between the two, it agreed with the measurements we were getting from the striations.

    Wildhorn 11
    You can see the orange red rock unit in the background and is the source of the orange red rock in the foreground of the picture. The glacier can also be seen high in the mountain top.

    Hike Stats

    Steps: 20,723
    Distance Traveled: 8.4 miles
    Flights Climbed: 138 floors
    Ascent: ~3,000 feet

    PolarTREC Poppy

    Putting Poppy to work helping place the targets in the forefield.

    Poppy wildhorn
    PolarTREC Poppy helping us place the targets at Glacier du Wildhorn.

    GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity. Flags

    Girl Scout Brownie Troop 80116 from East Brunswick, NJ made today’s flag. They were adorable signing their names and making their flowers. Good job girls!

    Girl Scouts
    Girl Scout Brownie Troop 80116 in East Brunswick, NJ showing off the glacier flag they made.

    Wildhorn 10
    Flag from Girl Scout Brownie Troop 80116 from East Brunswick, NJ. Photo taken by Neal Iverson.

    Daily Haiku

    I can’t, I can’t, oh
    my god please no more up hill
    I think I can, done.

    Date
    Location
    Glacier du Wildhorn
    Expedition

    Comments

    Linda Adamo

    Love the idea of the flags, connecting communities to your work. By the way , I have trouble making it up my stairs with the laundry. You look great!