Monday, July 4, 2011

They say there are old pilots, and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots....

Thankfully we got an old pilot. Well, not old, but he's 53, married, got daughters, granddaughters... To quote Robin, "I just wanna go out, do my job, and then get home. Life's too important to cut corners on safety."
We did our chopper orientation this morning, learned how to manual activate the ELT on both the dashboard and the removable yellow box, learned how to do hover exits, toe-ins, hot exits, all that stuff. I'm feeling pretty good about finally getting out on the chopper tomorrow.

Yeah. Tomorrow. About that. I got the short straw, and ended up going out on one of the last truck traverses today. We were out in Gnat Pass, just south of Dease Lake, between Upper and Lower Gnat Lakes. There's this lovely creek running between the two, and our plan was to ford the creek in the morning, and then head up the hills to search for evidence of a thrust fault running through the region. This creek was the largest creek I have seen in a while. So, we took off our boots, took off our pants, and put on our sandals. A great way to wake up in the morning is to stick your lower half in an ice-cold creek. It didn't feel that cold because I think we bypassed pain and went straight to numb. My trav partner, a crazy Dutchman, went first through the creek. He got about halfway across the calm part before he was up to his mid-to-upper thigh in water. I was in water just over my knees, thinking I'm going to die today (this seems to be a common theme, I'm noticing), and we hadn't even gotten to the deep, fast-moving part. So, we aborted the crossing, and walked back to the shore. At this point, we're both laughing hysterically, and freezing our arses off. We decided to try a bit further upstream, hoping the rapids simmered out a bit. After hiking in sandals and underwear for 15 minutes through the bushes, we tried to cross again. I just about lost my trav partner in the creek. He was up to his thighs again, and slipped. Thank GOD for the geotool he had; he caught himself before his boots got wet. So we retreated to dry land, put our boots (and pants) back on, and then just hiked around the creek for a while, mapped some outcrops, scoped out a crossing. Basically, we decided we need a raft or a boat to get across, or just wait until he's got a fly-camp out in that area., or we wait until August when the creek should be lower.

We ended up heading west, and hiked up this random road on the side of the highway. We found a ton of good outcrops, including some interesting contacts between an ultramafic intrusion and a felsic intrusion. Neat textures. We hiked up about 300m of vertical, and ended up just above the treeline. I can't wait to get up above treeline; the foliage is less aggressive. You can actually see over the shrubs up there! It's amazing.

Anyways, it was probably good I didn't chopper out this morning, because of the three teams that went out, they each had one or two outcrops all day, hiking through the swampy mucky gross bits. I prefer more geology than foliage on my travs, so hopefully tomorrow is just as awesome as today was.


  1. Glad you're okay with "old" pilots. I hear they're okay.

  2. Old is good. Plus, you're younger than him, so I figured I could get away with calling him old. :P eh Dad?

  3. Is he too young to have been in Vietnam? That kind of experience (or Alaska) was required by our company for pilots for our helicopter exploration back in the 70s.

  4. He sure doesn't fly like he was in Vietnam. I've heard stories from my boss about how they'd go full-tilt and just bang down on the ground. This guy is pretty cautious...He likes to land in football field type areas, and doesn't like to go faster than he has to.