Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Alpine Adventure

I just got back from 5 days in the alps.  Little did I know that it's the low season there.  Winter is big, and summer doesn't start up there until July.  The primary purpose of the trip was sampling glacial streams in a valley with some students and a couple postdocs.  I stayed two more days for the heck of it.  

I drove up early Tuesday morning with Mirela, a visiting Croatian student, and Patrick, a Canadian working at Eawag for the summer.  (How is he getting paid, but I'm not?  Oh well)  We made stop at the routine "Heidiland" rest stop.  No
, Heidi wasn't a real person, but you'd be milking it too.  The bathrooms were very classy.  Felt like I should have a bathrobe and slippers on. We made it up to Val Roseg around 11AM, and after dumping our stuff at the guesthouse, we started on our way up the valley.  Mirela was taking drift and benthic samples, so she had some long nets that she left in the stream for 20 minut
es and she also had a device where she collected all the stuff she dug up.  The weather was pretty cold, and it rained on and off, but we finished 3 sites in time to pick up the rest of the people at the train station at 5.  

The hotel was this little place halfway up the valley.  I think it's mostly used in the winter for nordic skiing, and we were the only guests the whole time, though a lot of people made the hike up the valley to the hotel and back.  The rooms consisted of a huge bunk bed that slept four people top and bottom.  Pretty cool.  The valley borders I
taly and consists of two glaciers that have receeded a ridiculous amount in the past hundred years.  It was a pretty gorgeous place

On day two, we all hiked up to the Tschiarva glacier for the first site.  It was rough going through the boulders, and the glacial morraine was huge on either side of us.  I helped out collecting bacterial soil samples for a student.  Mostly getting the GPS coordinates of the sites, which was a lot harder than I thought.  We finished early, but the rest of the team didn't get done until 6:30.  

The restaurant had some Graubunden (the province) specialties like capuns (pasta rolls with spinach and bacon in a rich cheesy sauce), pizzocheri (whole wheat pasta with potatoes and cheese) and Nuss-torte (a caramelly nut pie).  They also had an extensive breakfast buffet with excellent cheese, and I acually wasn't the only one yoinking stuff for later.  I guess we're all students.

On day 3, I joined the main group which was taking samples
 of algae and benthic bugs.   We had 8 sites and by the end of the day were pretty efficient.  It was really cool working with the stream ecologists and seeing how excited they get about the in
sects and larva
e in the stream.  They would get the samples and then pick through them on a white tray to put into bottles, and were very excitable about certain kinds of bugs.  They would pick them up in their hands and show them to everybody.  It's funny because most people, probably including me, think that stream grubs are pretty gross.  

Afterwards, the rest of them hurried home to get the samples in the fridge.  I took the 7 km walk down the valley to the town of Pontresina, where I spent the next two nights in the YHA hostel there.  More on this in the next post.

1 comment:

Louis said...

Very pretty and June has been cold back home with a stretch of days where it never broke 60F. Have you ever gone by Grindelwald? The view from the hostel is very pretty there.