Posted by: nclgoodman | July 30, 2014

A week in the Willmore

What a great week! Tomorrow we are leaving the Entrance fire camp, where we arrived one week ago to begin working on repeating our Miller 1928 survey in the amazing Willmore Wilderness Park.
The week got off to a fun start with a road trip fro the Elbow Camp to Entrance (near Hinton, total distance ~500km). Even though in a cruel twist of fate our road trip day just so happened to fall upon the rainiest and foggiest day of the season so far, we had a great time on our scenic drive! We saw Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, and what felt to this dinner-desiring passenger like hundreds of lakes and waterfalls.

The Athabasca Glacier, impressive even in the fog.  Photo credit:  Vladka Lackova-Gat

The Athabasca Glacier, impressive even in the fog. Photo credit: Vladka Lackova-Gat

Upon arriving at the Entrance Camp we were all very pleasantly surprised by the great food, comfy mattresses, and the big fire pit overlooking the river. However, the biggest surprise was yet to come — a helicopter dedicated to just our team! With the help of our awesome pilot Mark and Nick the engineer we reached a personal best for productivity, completing all 20 of our original Miller stations in just 3 days.

Tanya and Vladka, preparing to shoot.  Photo credit:  Rick Arthur

Tanya and Vladka, preparing to shoot. Photo credit: Rick Arthur

 

Nicole and Kristen smiling for Rick on the way back to the helicopter.  Photo credit:  Rick Arthur

Nicole and Kristen smiling for Rick on the way back to the helicopter. Photo credit: Rick Arthur

Doing so many stations so quickly has left us with huge amounts of processing and prep work in the office so we’ve been extremely busy, but even so we’ve managed a few fun field trips, in clouding a soak for our sore muscles in the Miette hot springs in Jasper National Park.
A note on the Willmore Wilderness – it is a rare combination of stunningly beautiful and entirely devoid of people.

These two dots are Tanya and Vladka.  The Willmore is big!  Photo credit:  Rick Arthur

These two dots are Tanya and Vladka. The Willmore is big! Photo credit: Rick Arthur

The park is closed to all vehicle traffic, so except for one horse camp we didn’t see anyone (either on the ground or from the air) for the whole five days we worked there. I would say that being in the Willmore is like stepping back in time, but it’s more than that – being in the Willmore is a reminder that our entire idea of what time means is small, and that without humans around human perceptions of time are meaningless. It is likely that very few people have been to some of our stations (some of them nearly an hour into the Wilderness by helicopter) since the original surveyors. As Mark (our pilot) commented today, “this is wild country – about as wild as it gets,” and we are all feeling incredibly privileged.

A view from our morning commute.  Photo credit:  Vladka Lackova-Gat

A view from our morning commute. Photo credit: Vladka Lackova-Gat

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More helicopter views. Photo credit: Vladka Lackova-Gat

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The Willmore is beautiful! Photo credit: Rick Arthur

 

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