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Ethan fuels my inner desire to be a ski bum

After eight weeks I certainly have learned a lot about fluorescence and fluorescent whitening agents. I have not however figured out whether or not they are in my cotton samples from the estuary. I'm almost done running all my samples from the cruise on the fluorometer. We found out soaking them in water gives best fluorescent signal, but its hard to tell what the signal is. I could make a equally convincing stories from my data that they are in the river and that they are not. I've definitely come up with more questions about fluorescent whitening agents than I can resolve in two weeks. Tawnya and I were brainstorming various methods to figure out what was coming off the cottonballs this morning, but unfortunately there isn't really time to start anything new. Some good news though is that I think I should be done running my samples on the fluorometer this week. I've also gotten much more efficient at analyzing my samples.

I have been looking over some of the papers I read in my initial literature review. With a greater understanding of fluorescent whitening agents and the research process, I am now appreciating some of the previous work on fluorescent whitening agents. Hopefully with my final paper coming up I can synthesize the information I have found in a useful way for whoever continues my project.

This weekend Ethan took us to see Elliot Glacier and it was such a spectacular trip that it definitely deserves a paragraph in my blog, (even though I know he's probably already showed the photos to everyone at CMOP). We started on the timberline trail around Mt. Hood, but soon found that the trail had been washed out in a 2006 flood. However, trails are completely unnecessary for the adventurous so we quickly found another way onto the terminal moraine by scrambling through alder and 'moonscape,' (scree slopes and boulder fields). At one point we found ourselves cliffed at a particularly steep slope with a rope uncertainly anchored to a boulder about as big as two soccer balls. We opted to scramble around on an alternate route that was not disappointingly sketchy. When we finally reached a snow field, Ethan warned us that we had come to the most dangerous part of our journey- around every boulder was a weak point in the snow just waiting for us to misstep and fall into the raging glacial river below. If we weren't caught in these moats, we were sure to slip and slide down the snow field only to be stopped by the rocky moonscape below and we hadn't even reached any crevasses yet. With this warning in mind we followed ethan's every footstep up the snow field to the our lunch spot on the glacier.

After lunch, we got to play around on the lower part of the glacier. We found some shallow crevasses to climb around in and finally headed up to the middle icefall. At this point we couldn't really go any further without proper ice climbing equipment. Instead we were going to glissade down the glacier. Glissade being a fancy word for skiing on your sneakers. We well aware of the danger of losing control on the glacier and sliding into a hidden crevasse or the rocky slope below at this point. Everyone was a bit hesitant to begin glissading. This was a funny point in the trip for me. At home I cross country ski quite a bit. Anyone who has been cross country skiing should realize that controlling your edgeless skis while going downhill is a difficult feat to master. Even though I have no problem carreening down icy New England slopes weaving through trees- which can certainly do just as much damage as a crevasse if you're going fast enough- I was hesitant to begin our glissade. After ethan dragged katie down the glacier in a mad glissade I realized how silly I was being. Glissading was really fun and I definitely recommend it. I'm pretty inspired to start ice climbing now too.... and really sad to be going back to the glacierless east coast. Anyway, until I graduate I guess I'll have to get my kicks from narrow escapes with hemlocks and maples- if we get snow.