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8 January, 2003

Bull Pass Familiarization Hike

Before we begin to do geology in the Dry Valleys we need to become acclimated to the higher altitude, establish a morning routine for eating breakfast and getting our gear together, and to wake up our muscles for the type of mountain hiking and backpack loads we'll be carrying. In order to do this we conducted a familiarization hike on the west wall of Bull Pass. Bull Pass cuts through the Olympus Mountain Range and connects the McKelvey Valley to the north with the Wright Valley to the south. Eventually we will be working in the Wright Valley but for now this will do. This will also give us a chance to discuss the geology of the region as we walk through it. From the west wall we are able to look across to the east wall of Bull Pass. We will work over there several times this month. Of parcticular importance will be the composition and behavior of granite dikes on the east wall. On the west wall Karina is especially interested in fissures between rock that formed while the molten rock was solidifying and another type of molten rock moved into the fissures. These are called segregations and are an important area of study for Karina for her work towards her PhD in Geology. In the upcoming weeks we will take time to assist Karina with her sample taking for these segregations.

We spend about nine hours mostly on the ridge at the top of the west wall today. This may sound like a long hike (it is) but there are ample breaks including lunch and snacks. It is vitally important to keep drinking water or some fluids to stay hydrated. It is so dry here and the body needs fluids.

1. Getting ready in camp for the upcoming hike

2. Mount Jason is at the top of the ridge which forms the west wall

3. Wind carved rocks called "ventifacts" give the area a strange appearance

4. Karina keeps her eyes open for segregations

5. At lunch Bruce pulls a Victrola out of his backpack along with an album!

6. The last Victrola in Antarctica was probably with Scott and Shackleton. The music on this one sounds great.

7. Along the ridge with Lake Vanda in the Wright Valley in the background

8. Karina rests amidst the ventifacts

9. Looking over the ridge towards Wright Valley

10. Getting down is easier than getting up. We come down what is basically a giant sand dune on the side of the ridge. It's almost like skiing.

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