To learn more about the Explore Fund visit www.ExploreFund.org, applications for spring and summer grants are open through April 6th.
Girls on Ice is a unique, FREE, wilderness science education program for high school girls that takes place in the North Cascades in Washington state and on a glacier in Alaska. Each year a team of 9 teenage girls and 3 instructors spend 11 days exploring and learning about mountain glaciers and the alpine landscape through scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, ecologists, mountain guides and artists.
The Last Day at Camp
A day in the life of a Girls on Ice participant, from an expedition to Mount Baker, WA
“Good morning ladies, it’s time to get up!” Erin our instructor gleefully yelled at 7:00am in the cold mountain morning. She was greeted with a series of mumbled protests. A blast of cold air filled our humble abode, much to our dismay. The small pond was frozen into criss-crossed patterns and the flow of the stream was gone! Slowly but surely, everyone managed to stumble blindly out of their tents. Amazingly, we all managed to navigate the rocks and obtain our food of choice and hot drinks in our sleepy stupor.
Cece, our mountaineering guide, spurred us into action and we began to pack as she monitored our progress. Today’s packs were to include all of our muddy climbing gear, what was left of our dwindling food supply, Gore-tex, and science supplies. We broke camp around ten o’clock, heading straight for the Easton Glacier. Everyone was excited to see how our group experiments from last Wednesday had evolved, so we set a quick pace scrambling over the rock. The cacophony of nine pairs of crampons echoed throughout the glacial valley. We hiked through crevasses covered in mud and rocks.
We had barely started out when Cece saw our first destination. All of a sudden, she told us to drop our packs and follow her. We saw her slowly disappearing into what seemed to be a small cave. As we got further into the cave we realized its depth. All eleven of us fit in with plenty of elbow room. Despite the slowly dripping mud, we managed to take heaps of pictures and even notice the huge boulder that had carved out the cave. The top of the cave was ridiculously smooth and majestically blue. We all crawled out of the cave dripping with mud, but with thrilled smiles on our faces!!!
We then split off into our teams to finish our experiments. The GPS team went and recalculated the flag locations, and the stream team went and measured the different sized streams. The stream team also took pictures of their experiment for a visual aid when comparing the results. Some of us also observed the ice worms visible in the crevasses’ ice, and went exploring towards the terminus of the glacier. The lower we got, the muddier and rockier it became!
Later in the day, at the top of the moraine, we waved down at some of the other girls down at camp, hoping this would spur them to begin boiling water for dinner. We descended the steep moraine and thirty minutes later arrived at our delightful little habitat.
Since we got into camp late, the sun was just going down to expose the stars in the sky. We began our evening discussion when the day’s Team Leader asked the group, “what was most amazing experience, what did you appreciate the most, and what did you gain from this trip?” We all loved this question. We really opened up to each other, and each person’s response was both sincere and touching. People said things like “The glacier was so awing” and “I learned so much about both the environment and myself.” Before the trip, we had all thought that the other girls had done something remarkable like saved a species or climbed Mount Everest or something, but we were all just ordinary girls that enjoyed doing the same thing. Our conversation was often interrupted by gasps when we saw amazing meteorites shooting across the sky. We were apparently in the middle of a meteor shower. After our conversation, most people went into their tents, but some girls decided to sleep outside with Erin and Cece. They wanted to see the shooting stars before they went to sleep. It was amazing. The entire trip was an experience that will not soon be forgotten."