Another day in the life.....

Steve Malone
June 28, 2014

The previous "a day in the life" covered a period when the crews were all based out of a common location in Kelso and were working like a well oiled machine with comparatively little in the way of problems (other than flats).  Morale was high. The "can do" spirit  permeated the group and progress was fast and furious.  On June 22 (same day the US tied Portugal in the World Cup) the group split into two camps of three+ teams each, one on the south side (known as the Trout Lakers) and one on the north side (known as the Randles).  Because of the remoteness of these new bases getting dispatches from the field was not easy. Reports and photos have been dribbling in suggesting lots got done but at some extreme effort, set backs and injuries.  Many of the stories have yet to be told, but here are a few.

Driving conditions on over-grown, narrow back roads can take a toll, particularly on truck mirrors.










The Trout Lakers had extra problems other than a busted mirror.

This site wins the prize for the worst site ever. During the siting visit a year ago Seth badly sprained his ankle. The road in had awful berms and potholes and crazy trees...This year the schlep to this site was awful. The slash was crazy deep and slippery. And yet, Ben managed to haul about 160 lbs. of stuff through it. What a trooper. 

It also decided to rain, so we built a tent to protect the equipment. Shelley also took a nap here.




One of the nuts on the solar panel mount was double threaded, so Tim and Roger had to saw it off.

Then there were even more hassles. We forgot to undo the solar panel cable before errecting the mast, so Tim got up on Ben's shoulders to reach it. 

Dinner in Hood river tonight.  We earned it. Whoot!


On the other hand there were great days and easy sites too.

The seismometer is well supported and protected in its magent case but why not make it safer by strapping it into a seatbelt.  At least one station you could easily drive right up to it and use an exsting pole to mount the solar panel on.  How easy can it get.  The view of Mount St. Helens from the south-east is not too bad either.



Here is a verbatium report from the Trout Laker's honch, Seth as they were finishing up.


Team Trout Lake has varied in size from 5 to 8 as people have flitted in and out. We are staying at the very pleasant Trout Lake Valley Inn, which among other perks features a teddy bear in every bed, perfect for snuggling after a long day lugging batteries through slash and digging holes through pumice layers. We start each day off right, with a continental breakfast featuring homemade Belgian waffles. At 8 we break into three crews of 2/3 people and start loading cars from the UW box truck, which is conveniently parked in the same vicinity as our cars. By 9-9:30 we have all departed with assignments for a full site install and a "homerun" site; if the first site goes fast, then head to a second site to dig hole & pour pad for seismometer. That approach had us finishing 2 sites per day at first, but today it paid dividends as our three crews were able to finish 6 sites. There are just two places to eat in Trout Lake, one of which closes at 8, the other closes by 9 but is not open Tuesday/Wednesday. Monday we made it back with 30 minutes to spare for the 9pm restaurant, Tuesday we made it back with 60 minutes to spare for the 8pm restaurant. After stuffing our faces with local grub we head back to the hotel for debriefing and planning for the next day and then crashing to repeat the cycle the next day. Planning is becoming easier now as our list of sites is whittling down and we have fewer people to keep track of, plus all people in the crew now know what needs to be done which means less standing around waiting for someone to provide direction.

We have had a few field adventures, fortunately none involving flats (which seems to strongly implicate Weyerhauser roads for our ridiculously high flat rate last week). An iMUSH rig was high-centered on a snow drift for 15 minutes on our first day, on a road which turned out to be closed (no sign) due to snow. Fortunately another vehicle came up the road, even more fortunately it had a tow strap and was able to pull the iMUSH rig back to terra firma. Unfortunately we will not be able to reach that site until we get a few good warm days to finally melt off the snow (USFS sez the road will be closed thru July 4). Another adventure involved installing a site on a steep slope with a thin soil veneer on top of bedrock that defeated all attempts at whacking it with a breaker bar. The site was installed, but the crew is less than confident about it's ability to withstand snow creep (particularly the solar panel mount). 

Our current status is 12 sites installed (MJ09, MI09, MI10, MK10, MK12, ML10, MM08, MN09, MN10, MO07, MP08, MP10) with 2 left to go (ML11, MN07). We will be finished tomorrow, pack up & head back to Kelso Friday to continue installs from that side. We lose two crew members Friday (Kelley & Shelley), and another one (Alicia) will be moving up to Team Randle to help them with their larger load of north-side stations.


So the Trout Lakers are finished and Alicia heads back with the UW box truck to the main staging area in Kelso.  After some organizational efforts and vehicle trading she is so happy to join the Randles that she can't resist singing about it at a karaoke..

Not much left to dowith hope to be done in the next few days.