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> August 23-24 – Paramushir, Days Seven and Eight, A change of plan
post Sep 3 2006, 08:45 AM
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NOTE: The eight days of journal entries from August 17-24 were written while I was camping ashore at Pernatoye Lake, along Vasil’ev Bay on southern Paramushir Island. I am typing them in mostly verbatim from my handwritten journal from the field – with just minor editing/additions for content and clarity – now that I am back on the Gipanis.

IPB Image
Our group that worked at Lake Pernatoye on Vasil’ev Bay located at the southern end of Paramushir Island posing with Vladimir Putin in a traditional Russian photo (no smiles) in front of our home for the week. Back row, from the left – Jesse Einhorn, Tanya Pinegina, Katya Kravchunovskaya, Jody Bourgeois, Misty Nikula-Ohlsen and Pat Anderson. Front row, from the left – Alexander “Sasha” Pakhamov, Anatoly “Tolya” Lozhkin, Pavel “Pasha” Minyuk and Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, 23 August – Paramushir, Lake Pernatoye on Vasil’ev Bay
2:30 pm

A little more than 24 hours left here. Tomorrow morning they will bring the palynology gear to the lighthouse and be ready to start taking it to Gipanis in the early afternoon. Meanwhile, some groups from Gipanis may come ashore to do some work. It will be nice to done here – to get warm and dry and MUCH cleaner. Everything is starting to smell funky – my socks, shoes, sleeping bag, all of my clothes – ME. Nothing really dries and it is all covered in sweat.

Last night I got cold and couldn’t get warm. I decided to get into my sleeping bag around 7 pm and it wasn’t until at least 9 that I started to warm up. I skipped dinner – just wasn’t hungry and ended up sleeping until 7:30 this morning.

This morning, it was still rainy, but since Jody, Tanya and Katya needed to stay and work on the descriptions and samples from the peat pit, Jesse and I were free to go do the ground truthing for the satellite images – if we wanted to do it in the rain. It wasn’t very cold at least – just drizzly and windy – so we decided to go anyway. After Jesse helped bring the lake coring boats up from the lake so that they could be hung to dry in one of the outbuildings, Pasha was also free to go with us. So at about 10 am, the three of us set out along the beach toward the area that Jesse wanted to investigate about 3 km up the beach, between two streams. We were planning to check in by radio every 2 hours and to leave a clearly marked path after we left the beach. We had also described and showed Jody and Tanya our intended route on the map.

Ground truthing satellite images involves first taking the images and using various methods to interpret the reflected wavelengths, color code areas that have similar reflection patterns. Certain types of vegetation, snow, water, bare ground, etc all have distinctive reflected light patterns that the satellite records. Once these patterns are determined then a specific vegetation type or ground cover can be tagged to each pattern and a color coded map created that accurately depicts what is on the ground. In order to determine which specific patterns match with which ground covers, it is important to actually KNOW what is on the ground – snow, water, bare ground, grasses, marsh, trees, etc. – this is the ground truthing step. Our plan was to hike through as much of the area that Jesse wanted to match to his satellite maps as possible so that he could then match the reflection patterns to each vegetation type on the Kuril Islands.

As we walked for about an hour up the beach, we encountered bear tracks that were probably a day or so old – they hadn’t been eliminated by the rain, yet. We passed through beach areas that were sandy, rocky, dead rotting kelpy, and boulder and gravel. We were going into the wind and tried to walk at a pace that would keep us warm, but wouldn’t get us too warm and sweaty. Encased in rain gear that doesn’t breathe much – the second goal was not met.

Eventually, when we were about 2 km past the first stream, we found a good place to scale the approximately 50 meter bluff. With only minor difficulties, we made it to the top and were disappointed to find about 5 foot shrubby pines, called kadratch, as far as we could see – which wasn’t TOO far given the fog. There was another hillside about 1 km away, but we couldn’t see a very evident or simple route through the kadratch and given that it would take at least an hour or so just to get through it and by then it would be time to turn back – it wasn’t worth trying. Fortunately, the information that we had gained just by climbing the bluff would allow Jesse to be able to match this widespread area of singular vegetation with his maps, giving him much of what he needed.

We walked along the top of the bluff for a few hundred meters, eating blueberries – Shiksha, Golobnika and Zhimolost – as we found them and looking to see if we found a convenient way through the kadratch. We did not find any other paths through the kadratch, so we made our radio check in at noon and headed back down the bluff to beach and back toward camp.

It had stopped raining and we were walking with the wind this time, so the walk back seemed warmer. We investigated the stream that we had walked across for a bit as we got back to it and discovered that the entire stream bed was a solid pyroclastic flow – cemented angular rocks from pebble and gravel size all the way up to boulders. Along the southern bank of the stream where the sun didn’t quite get over the bank, there was still a large amount of snow – very dirty and very old – but quite a bit. We walked up the stream a ways and up the bank. (See picture below – left)

At the top of the stream bank, just a little ways from the edge – there were several depressions that might have been house pits. Compared to the surrounding area, they had different vegetation inside them, were located near a source of water and the ocean . . . I looked around a bit and found some others closer to the stream. A couple of them were obviously “enhanced” – deeper and steeper – and there was at least one trench around one (that I fell into). I didn’t have a shovel, though, so I couldn’t investigate with a test pit.

We walked the rest of the way back to the camp along the bluff and through the grass, following an old road. We discovered the old banya (sauna) house for the camp along a stream closer to the camp – complete with a “cooling off pool” created by the stream. Why hadn’t we discovered this earlier, chased the rats out and made it work!?

The afternoon has been spent organizing and packing some gear – drying things and keeping dry. When we got back to the camp, I was soaked through from the inside – out. I changed my upper layers, but kept my field pants on to try and dry them faster with my body heat. We had some tea and food and Jody made more pancakes – this time with the use of an improved attachment on the heater that cooked them much faster by allowing her to put the pan closer to the flame.

Thursday, 24 August – Aboard the Gipanis, transiting to Onekotan
3 pm

Surprise! I’m back on the ship already. Yesterday when Tanya called to the ship at 8 pm, she talked to the captain and he said that we needed to be off the island ASAP – even that evening, if possible. Of course, it was already dark and we weren’t finished packing, so that was not really an option. Half an hour later, it had been decided that we would be picked up early in the morning today. The plan was for Sasha, the lighthouse keeper, to pick us up in his truck with our gear and take us down to the beach at 7 am the next morning. Then we would radio to Gipanis, who was waiting in the Bay for us already, to let them know that we were ready. Needless to say, the change in plans came as quite a shock to all of us. Suddenly, instead of a day of work, we had to scramble to be ready to go early. Apparently, a storm was coming and the captain wanted to pick up both our party and the volcanologists on Onekotan today and go directly to Simushir, where we were going to load more water.

So we got up early this morning and got packed, loaded and down to the beach by 7:50 am. So far the weather looked great (See picture below - right). By 8:45, the zodiac had arrived and we loaded the first of three loads of gear/people back to Gipanis. By 9:30 the fog had settled in and we couldn’t see the Gipanis or the lighthouse anymore. By 10:00, all of us except for Tanya and Katya, who will stay and work more on southern Paramushir for another week or so until they hike north to Severo-Kuril’sk, were safely back aboard the ship.

IPB Image
On the left: Jesse Einhorn walks across a patch of snow on the south bank of a river on Paramushir Island. The riverbed was composed of solid pyroclastic flow – cemented angular rocks of mixed mineralogy and sizes – which had flowed from a volcanic eruption at high temperature and speed before solidifying here.
On the right: A view to the lighthouse at Vasil’ev Bay on southern Paramushir Island from the beach where we were picked up on the morning of August 24.

I had learned from Ben when he came ashore on the first zodiac run to help get us back to the ship, that the water situation aboard the ship was not good. There wasn’t any water coming out of the upper deck faucets and the middle deck of the ship was spotty and spurty. There was also very little hot water. So two of the items on my list – shower and laundry – looked like a slim probability. Fortunately, when I actually got here, I discovered that there was enough water to wash; you just had to put up with inconstant flow and tepid temperatures. I was able to wash some of the sweat from my clothes – socks, underwear and shirts, only – not dirt from field clothes, though. Those will probably wait until I get home. smile.gif

8 pm – transiting to Simushir

Shortly after we were aboard, we lifted anchor and headed to Onekotan. We arrived at about 4 pm and the volcanologists were all aboard by 5:30 pm. So we are back to a full ship – 2 meal shifts, crowded spaces – and still no water. The field work is completed. All that remains is the clean up work – sorting, inventorying, packing and preparing while we go to Vodopadnaya on Simushir again to get water, which will take at least a day, and then transit for 2 days back to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We should be back to port by Aug 28.
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