Why am I an environmental scientist? It’s not because I’m a treehugging hippie, not because I really think that I’ll save the world with my science, and it’s not because I love to do schoolwork. I am an environmental scientist because I love the outdoors. I want it to stay the way that I can remember it when I was a kid, and I want everybody to have the opportunities and experiences that I have been lucky enough to experience myself. I also believe that anybody can make a difference, and that I can have an influence for the good.
One of the compulsary components of my program (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences, majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) is a field course component. I chose to do the geology field course which involves a week up north in a small place called Espanola living out of tents and mapping the rock formations up there.
Which was awesome!
We all arrived early in the morning to meet out behind the Earth Sciences building on Monday and crammed our gear into the vans. We are a group of 21 students, a professor, a lab coordinator, and a teacing assistant. Upon loading the vans (mine was full of 7 guys) we found that ours had a flat tire. We arrived at the rental place with a caravan with a flat tire, and left in a gigantic Chevy Suburban. All it took was for me to make a comment to the guy in charge there and he upgraded our vehicle free of charge! Even in the suburban though it was a tight squeeze; I was sitting on a bench seat with my friends Kent and Scott (who is about 4 inches taller than I am). At least Kent was a good sport and took the middle seat.
When we got to the campground, I was thoroughly impressed! A beautiful campground on the shores of Lake Apsey, a few km from town and at the end of a dirt road.
|One of the sites we camped at|
We had a great group of people, everybody camped, cooked together, swam together, socialized, and played games. Nights were eventful, but we all got lots of sleep and kept it together for the full days of hiking through the rocky northern terrain. We got to subdivide ourselves into groups of three, each group was designated an area to map. Me and my buddy Peter managed to convince another geologist friend who spends his summer in the Yukon working to be in our group, and we all worked well together splitting the jobs (strike guy, map guy, and diary guy).
|Pete and Chris on Penguin Island|
Our group got the most beautiful area to map; some would say an island, some a peninsula – depending on how long your legs are and how far you can jump. Our site was the furthest from the drop off point, and just hiking out there was a job, we had to use landmarks like the elephant rock, and avoid swampy areas. When you get out to where the island (Hereby known as Penguin Island), all that you can see is rocky shores, with few trees – most of which are jackpine trees (which I found especially endearing because they remind me of family camping trips when we lived in Thunder Bay). Not only were the rocks interesting in composition; but they were amazingly shaped as well. These are almost all sedimentary bedrock, which is prone to weathering (being worn down easily). The last glaciations carved pipes between the bottom of the ice and the rocks to let meltwater out which left half-pipes, tubes, quarter-pipes, and interesting striations everywhere.
I would have a field day there with my bike for sure. The best part of all is that you couldn’t see any people or buildings out in the field. The east side of the island had some cool cliffs to jump off of, and to enjoy the view of the surrounding features from.
|East side off the cliffs|
Our group had a good dynamic; we kept up lively conversation the whole time. These guys have some senses of humour and after a three days in the field you wouldn’t believe the conversations that were taking place! It was tough slugging through the bush which is good because I consider that great training for the upcoming University Cup race series, so I have nothing to complain about! The weather was fantastic, however almost too fantastic. Unfortunately I’m covered in heat rash, but oh boy am I ever nicely tanned!
|Looking up onto the island|
I think I’m a bit weird compared to my colleagues though. Personally I can’t get enough of camping, and being away from society. The nice calm feeling of independence and the open possibilities of exploration that I feel when I’m camping is just phenomenal. I could live like this. When I mentioned this, everybody said it was about time that they got back to Guelph, and were getting sick of “roughing it” I guess. It took us three full days of mapping to get that island mapped (rock types, contacts, dykes, faults, etc,). And I’d do it all again!