Shabby blogs

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big Mountain Field Trip

Tree Ghosts - that 's what these are called. They are caused by the formation of rime ice on the trees. They are not snow, but are super-cooled water crystals in fog that freeze to whatever they contact. These trees can sometimes have a ton (literally) of snow on them. They bend and adapt and are able to sustain the stress and pressure through the entire season. The three older kids and I learned this, and much more, today on our Forest Service Avalanche and Safety Class field trip at Big Mountain. What a day. First of all, it was sunny, beautiful and almost 40 degrees on the mountain - perfect!

Our competent and expert-in-all-things-avalanche guide, Leah, handed out snow shoes and then headed us up the lift to the summit. She explained avalanches: what causes them, how they happen, how to look for possibly dangerous situations and how to avoid them. We were able to find some surface hoar , lovely ice crystals that form overnight and are a leading cause in approximately 85% of all avalanches. We snow shoed out and dug ice pits so that we could analyze the different layers of snow and ice pack, like avalanche experts do when determining the safety of an area. In addition, there is a new beacon field at Big Mountain where they allow kids some hands-on experience in avalanche rescue. When skiers are planning on backcountry adventures, they are advised to wear a beacon, so that they can be located if they are in a slide. The kids were able to use beacons to find the location of buried transmitters. They then used probe poles to determine the exact location of their "victim" (in this case a buried gunny sack full of saw dust and the transmitter). The view of the Flathead Valley was breathtaking from where we were. Don't you wish you could have been there?

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Jessica said...

How did you find out about such a great activity for your kids? Was it The Homeschool Herald? Not that my kids are old enough for this kind of just sounds so fun!

Kelly said...

That lools like so much fun, although, reeeally cold! It's 80 degrees today ;-P