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Monday, June 28, 2010

Central Alaska Range - Denali Fault and Tangle Lakes

We are in Valdez this afternoon for showers, laundry and a ferry to Cordova.  Over the last two nights the students have worked on their first blog entries for the trip.  Hope you enjoy their thoughts and all our pictures (sorry they are out of order we are in a huge rush and have a slow connection)!  We should be able to update the blog again in about a week!

Mike Sachs

Hi, my name is Mike Sachs from North Andover, MA.  I am a rising sophomore and a Geology Major. This was our ninth day in the wild Alaskan frontier and our last night at Tangle Lakes Campsite.  This wild guy Bob fell for Sarah and has been following us around.  The fishing has been excellent at Tangle Lakes with plenty of Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) to be caught in the rivers and lakes.  Today we took a canoe trip from Round Tangle Lake down into Long Tangle Lake.  This trip was to look at evidence of the old lake levels and glacial advances, which was part of our mapping project here.  So far the trip has been a lot of fun and cannot wait to get down to the coast and fish for salmon while we look at evidence of uplift from the 1964 earthquake.

Nicole Reeger
Hi, my name is Nicole Reeger and I am a rising junior, Biology major from Long Beach, NY. I was really excited for my first trip to Alaska and the first nine days have been incredible. On day one, my fellow LOTE members could probably tell I was not the most “outdoorsy” person on the trip and that my camping experience was nonexistent. I can definitely say that I am now capable of pitching a tent and keeping the campfire going (I’m really good and breaking sticks)! My favorite part of the trip so far was walking on Matanuska Glacier on the north side of the Chugach Mountains, and it was just a short walk from our first campsite. Our second glacier experience on Castner Glacier in the Central Alaska Range was very different from our first. Unlike Matanuska Glacier, Castner was covered in debris and rocks. At first I did not really think I was walking on a glacier. This is because a majority of the glacier was stagnant ice and no longer moving. We saw here that when the stagnant ice melted, the ground became unstable and failed. A formerly smooth terrain became hummocky moraine terrain. I am really looking forward to our next glacier adventure at Child’s glacier, which is actively calving! I am also looking forward to tomorrow’s shower!! 

Sarah Logan
Hello all! Sarah reporting from the last frontier! I’m a rising sophomore and biology major. Day nine in Alaska and so far the trip is amazing. Pretty shocking going from my comfortable bed to a tent and no showers! One example of a great day was the day on Matanuska Glacier. We woke up, made coffee and breakfast over the fire then hit the trails. We hiked over the ice on the glacier and found some hidden lakes and deep rivers that cut through the glacier. We sat to have lunch and then the day continued on the ice. Back to camp after many hours and it was time to make dinner over the fire. Dinner quickly followed by many, many s’mores. Dishes are cleaned and then its time to sit around the fire and tell funny stories. Last nights topic was ‘awkward high school stories’. Imagine where that one went…! I’m in the process of learning how to fly fish…that is also interesting! Well off to fish right now! Back to blog soon! XOXO Sarah 

Colleen Kennedy 
Hi, I’m a Geology Major from Rhode Island (2012). SO excited to be in Alaska! From the smallest state to the biggest!!! By far the highlight of the trip has been our walk on Matanuska Glacier, it was unreal to actually walk on all that ice. Other than that, I have to say my muscles are a little sore from our more recent activities. Lauren and I covered several miles of rough off-trail terrain during the mapping project, followed by a paddle-or-die trip the next day down Long Tangle Lake and Tangle River. I’m still hoping to wrestle a grizzly before we go, so hopefully I’ll find one on the next leg of the trip!  

Gozzie Onyiuke
Hey there! Gozzie here. I’m an incoming sophomore and an Environmental Science major and Music minor from Farmington Connecticut and just finished my first year at Union College. Coming from suburbia to the wild outdoors is quite the eye opening experience. One of the many adventures we embarked on was (as many have commented on) the Matanuska Glacier. Climbing on ice plus an uncoordinated girl usually isn’t a great combination but it was super exciting and the formation of all that ice is so interesting! Another experience we had was hiking up Gunny Sack Creek on many poorly sorted rocks and a rushing river. I’ve always been a climber and it’s always totally worth it to see the view from the top. Three moose sightings later and after a really long day of many mile hikes, it’s always nice to sit around the fire (that I usually make with my amazing pyro skills) and eat a hearty dinner and make multiple mouthwatering s’mores with some pretty entertaining people. I can’t wait to see what else Alaska has in store for us. Peace, love and Beatlemania!

Zoe Blatt 
Hey, my name is Zoe Blatt - I am a rising junior and Environmental Science Major from Newton, MA. As each day of our adventure in Alaska passes, I continue to be amazed at what I am capable of and look forward to the new adventures to come. So far, I have learned an incredible amount from our fieldwork. I have become very interested in the engineering of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. We spent an afternoon exploring the impact that the 2002 earthquake had on the pipeline as it crosses over the Denali Fault. It was evident to engineers that in order to be successful, they had to design the pipeline to withstand disturbances due to movement along the strike-slip fault. Afterward we headed to Tangle Lakes where we would spend three nights in the area. As a part of our first mapping project, Sasha, Nicole and I had the pleasure of canoeing together down the Round Tangle Lake to Long Tangle Lake (notice I said down). It was canoeing upstream that ended up being quite the adventure. The canoe trip in combination with mapping the previous day (see Sasha’s blog), we were able to evaluate previous lake levels in the area. The combination of our determination and perseverance lessened the obstacles at hand: the strong current, the lingering rain clouds and the black flies. I can’t wait to see what sea kayaking has in store for us!  

Kyra Burnett
Hi, I’m Kyra Burnett and I’m from Wilbraham Mass. I’m a rising sophomore at Union College and I plan on becoming a Biology major. Not only has this been my first time in Alaska, but also this has been my first time ever camping. As you can see, this experience has been a quite interesting one for me. Not only is learning geology challenging enough, but being able to manage your time and living outside 24/7 can become extremely overwhelming for a rookie camper. One of my favorite activities was when we hiked Amphitheater Mountains (south side of the Central Alaska Range) and we studied the different vegetation and sediment around our region. At the end of the day, we were able to create a facies map for the area, which ultimately outlined the dramatic changes in area over the last 5,000 years. Also, after my canoeing experience, I know I will definitely stick to cross country. I realized this when I was way better at dragging the boat upstream than I was at paddling. Most importantly, the group that is on this trip is absolutely awesome. I have had so many great experiences within the last week, and know that making s’mores every single day has been one of my favorites. However compared to shower day tomorrow, I know that those s’mores have serious competition!   

Sam O’Connell
My name is Sam O’Connell, I’m from Suffern, NY. I just finished my first year at Union and I’m still trying to figure out my science major. Alaska has been awesome, as the wild frontier has been an unbelievable sight to see. Beautiful sunsets behind the mountains have given me memories that I won’t forget. The mapping project yesterday here at Tangle Lakes was quite an experience, as we got to go out into the wild Alaskan bush to research and interpret the area. We got to some of the craziest terrain I’ve ever been in, to the point where my colleagues and I put on a music concert of artists anywhere from The Eagles to Miley Cyrus, in hopes of keeping the bears away. The Matanuska Glacier hike was truly spectacular; the hidden lake within the glacier’s melting zone seemed to be out of a postcard. Fly-fishing has been awesome; too bad I don’t have waders! A couple random notes-nights in tent ‘pumice’ are interesting, I make unbelievable chili, and Sachs’s lingo has gotten out of control by now. Peace. 

Sasha Rothenberg
Hey, my name is Sasha Rothenberg and I’m a rising junior, Environmental Science major from Moretown, VT. Just from landing in Anchorage the grand scale of the landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Every turn looks like a postcard, and the difference between learning geology in the classroom and actually going out to study them in person has never been more clear. This hit me on our first hike on Matanuska Glacier. I’ve learned a lot about glaciers in the classroom between geology and climatology classes, but actually standing on one really let me appreciate their enormity. We hiked for an entire day around the glacier and later that night looking at a map I realized we barely touched the tip of the massive ice flow. Not to mention nearly every landscape we look at and learn about has been shaped by glaciations. The mapping project we did at Tangle Lakes was more of a two-sided experience. Zoe, Nicole, and I set out on our own to what we though would be a peaceful hillside area of the map with a small forest at the edge (imagine Maria in The Sound of Music). Little did we know from the aerial photograph we were given that this area was one giant thickly vegetated swamp. Jackie picked us up on the road five hours later with soaking wet hiking boots, covered in mosquito bites, and completely exhausted, but also with a huge sense of completion and satisfaction. Our determined hiking and geological fieldwork ended up leading to new important conclusions about the history of the Tangle Lake area. I’m really looking forward to sea kayaking and seeing marine life in Orca Bay on Tuesday. 

Mike DeLuca
My name is Mike DeLuca from HoHoKus, NJ and I am a geology major.  Yesterday we mapped the surrounding terrain and tried to piece together what the geologic processes were back thousands of years ago.  We hiked through some of the thickest terrain I have ever seen, even though we are in the tundra.  Our route for the day for our mapping project took us to places way off of the beaten path.  For our project here, we reported on the ecology and sediment of the area, and then presented our findings to the other groups.  I thought this was an interesting project because it was the first geologic project I have done without the help of a professor.  Finally, I would note that fish are everywhere.

Lauren Graniero
Hey, I am an Environmental Science major from Upstate New York, and I am really excited to be in Alaska for the first time! My favorite glacier so far was the Matanuska, which was seriously the coolest and most beautiful thing I have ever seen… except for all those nooks and cranny’s I nearly fell into! The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was also extremely interesting to visit because it was built on top of tons of highly active and dangerous terrain.  The engineering was totally impressive, but it seems out of place given the gorgeous Alaskan landscape.  Canoeing with Sam today was GREAT! Except paddling upstream was a little rough. I had 6 inches of water in my boots.  Signing off for now—I hope to report back on serious bear spotting. Until next time!

Group in Anchorage - with Balto
Lauren, Sam, Zoe, Nicole and Sasha - going down stream

Colleen and Nicole at Gunny Sack Creek

Mike DeLuca and a Greyling at Upper Tangle Lake

Mike DeLuca - tree-coring along the Denali Fault

Group looking at trees affected by the 2002 earthquake along the Denali Fault

Group on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Group at Gunny Sack Creek

John and Gozzie fighting the current and the wind!

Kyra and Gozzie and the Delta River
Kyra at Matanuska

Lauren at Matanuska

John and Mike Deluca - Matanuska

Mike DeLuca and Sarah - Tangle Lakes

Gozzie - Tangle Lakes

Nicole - Tangle Lakes

Gozzie, Kyra and Sarah - Delta River

Kyra - cross-country canoeing - new sport (my up-river paddle partner)

More Matanuska group shots (Zoe is in the background - ahah! I have a picture of you!)

Mike Sachs - Tangle Lakes

Sam - Gunny Sack Creek (possibly JG's arm on the right)

Sasha at Gunny Sack

Group at a Tangle Lakes overlook

Zoe, Nicole and Sasha - canoeing the easy way - downstream
The guys working on their Tangle Lakes mapping projects


  1. first. WOW... loved all the blogs and photos! I really enjoyed the different perspectives you all bring to your amazing adventure. I can tell the photos just scratch the surface of the beauty all around you. I gotta say though that no mom wants to hear anything about any grizzly wrestling tho... smile... Is it too late to say Nicole - you are NOT allowed to wrestle any bears!?. And you know the tone of voice that goes with that. :) Im sure you are all enjoying being freshly showered with clean clothes. Im so proud of my outdoorsy daughter. Cant wait to hear about kayaking and everything else about your unfolding adventure -- well everything but BEARS. Enjoy.

  2. Awesome pictures. You all look happy, healthy, and full of great adventure. Everyone did a terrific job blogging all the details about your treks and research. Made me feel like I was there with you experiencing "big" Alaska. I heard from Mike that you have seen lots of sure and post some pictures next chance you get. Enjoy he ferry ride to Cordova and sea kayaking. You will have a blast. Be well, be safe, keep on learning, and make a difference.
    Cheers, Phil

    PS:Mike and I visited Alaska in the winter of 2008 - to see some pictures you can go to

  3. hmmm sarah, just read your comment about awkward high school stories around the camp fire. contemplating telling a few of your gems...

  4. I can't believe Ngozi is in the wild! Quite a diff from little ol' Rattlesnake Mtn here in Farmington. Really proud of you kid!

  5. Great pictures and blogs!! Kyra, only you could cross-country canoe. I hope kayaking is a little better for you! (You do know that there is no rope attached to a kayak for pulling right!?!)The past two days here in New England have been in the 90's and ridiculously humid. You can literally see the water droplets in the air. The next 7 days here are going to be rain-free and in the upper 70's and low 80's. Quite different from the weather you guys are experiencing.
    Keep up with the interesting blogging and great picture taking. Thank you to Prof. Garver and Prof. Cockburn for all you are doing to make this experience possible for the students!!!

  6. Great pictures. And who knew you were all such good writers! Life goes on here in the Lower 48(note to Krya-Sox only ONE game back!But Pedroia, Martinez and Buchholz all hurt!) Nice look on the Pipeline.Glad to hear showers were finally had after ONLY 11 days! Wow, those must have been some ripe van rides during days 9 and 10! Be safe everyone and hurry back, we miss you(shutup Nomar, I know where you live!)

  7. Hey everyone!!!

    Seems like you guys are having an awesome time!! Sweet pics and im totally jealous that you guys went canoeing! You all are a very lucky group. I hope Gozzie and Lauren havent bothered you all with too much singing now, if only you were in our Disney Classics singing group last year lol. Have fun, be safe and blog again soooon!!!!!!!!!!

    Lots of love,

  8. Hi all! Sounds like a great trip. Are you glad you picked up Tyler in Valdez? You did pick up Tyler in Valdez didn't you? He'll have you all hooked on country music before he leaves! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    Denise Izykowski

  9. Whew! It has been quite the journey these past few weeks, but I have to say I’m glad to have spent the end of it on the island of Kodiak.It is crazy to think that we drove over nearly all the roads on the island!

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