Snow Day!

My first day of work consisted of a morning of what is called “roving”. That is, I walked and drove around the Cedar Breaks Monument grounds and interacted with as many visitors as I could. I wasn’t quite prepared for the 10 a.m. geology talk since I have had only a few days training and have only done a small amount of research. Daphne Sewing, who I believe is the Chief Interpreter of the park, gave the talk and had me shadow her.  It went well and afterwords I gave several shortened ten minute versions of the talk out on Point Supreme to about fifteen sets of guests.

The afternoon brought snow. Lucky for me, I was mainly in the historic Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is a log cabin complete with a fireplace, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937.

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The Visitor Center. Picture taken at 6 p.m. last night after my shift.

It’s really wild how quickly the weather can change up there. Here are some pics taken at about twenty minute intervals throughout the day. The photos were taken mostly inside the Visitor Center. I also tried to get a couple shots from Point Supreme after work.

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Normally this is the grand view of the Amphitheater.

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After the clouds cleared from the same spot as the two photos previous.

I am having problems currently uploading the rest of the snow pictures from my phone. There were some cool ones too. I finally learned how to use the panorama feature. Until they are finished, I am going to take a side step and tell you about a little adventure I had the other day on the Alpine Pond Trail.

It is important to know that out of all the days that I have been up at the Breaks, only one day has been without a significant amount of wind. The sound of the wind is, of course, amplified by the park’s trees: Engelmann Spruce (currently recovering from a natural beetle epidemic); Subalpine Fir; Bristlecone Pine (the oldest one we have in the park is 1,300+ years old!); Limber Pine (extremely flexible); Rocky Mountain Juniper (the Juniper was mistaken for a Cedar, hence: “Cedar Breaks”); and Quaking Aspen. Most of these trees have very interesting stories pertaining to Cedar Breaks, but since we are talking about wind, I’d like to talk about the fascinating Quaking Aspen.

Quaking Aspens a-sexually clone from a single shared root system, meaning most Aspens seen clustered together are all shoots from a single root system and are identical clones of each other. They do also send out seeds, however, this cloning feature seems to be the primary source of reproduction.

What has me most intrigued and what is most relevant to this little story is the Quaking Aspen leaf. It is shaped in such a way that even the slightest breeze causes the leaves of this tree to make a tremendous amount of noise. The noise sounds very similar to ocean waves. I didn’t realize how loud this sound was until the wind completely died down as I was hiking the Alpine Pond Trail, which is littered with snow, dead Engelmann Spruce (the beetle epidemic of the Engelmann Spruce is a great discussion for another day), and scattered chert (rock used by native americans to make tools) and obsidian rock (black volcanic glass).

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My journal reflection of the momentary silence I experienced off the Alpine Pond Trail:
Stillness, I haven’t heard from you in such a long while. I found you hiding out past all the vistas, planes, and lookouts; tucked in with the snow and dead Engleman Spruce. There, where your lookout group consists of marmots and an alarm system of birds; still not quite to the pond, frozen two feet down.
Already I hear you start to leave. A sound like ocean currents is present once more and there is a plane out there in the background. But even if the plane’s viewers are looking down, you, my quiet friend, are safe and sound. Hide away now,  past the hallows and into the thrush. I won’t tell anyone. Your secret is safe with us.

I finally got the pictures to upload. Here are a few panoramas, some from inside the Visitors Center and some from outside.

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From the Visitor Center.

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From the beginning of Point Supreme.

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Another from Point Supreme.

I also took a few pictures of my place of residence.

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Trail to the house.

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From my front door, looking out on Dixie National Forest. In the summer the meadow below will be full of grazing sheep and cattle (That’s the cool thing about National Forests).

I got a chance to meet my neighbors; a sweet young couple, Daisy and Ben.

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It’s not really a great picture. They’re marmots!

That’s probably more than enough for one day. Oh, one last thing, here’s a pic from Chessman Lookout next to the Alpine Pond Trailhead.

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I won’t be around for a week. I will be somewhere in the Parashant National Monument part of the Grand Canyon.

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