Captain’s Log: April 29th, 2013 – Day#8

30 Apr

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Today the total elevation between all teams was over 10, 000 feet. Both teams, Mountain Kitty and Speed Deer, covered 17 kilometers, and team Tortoise covered 16. The teams found many cattle grazing as well as more well pads and roads. The Pads they encountered were generally in good condition – little garbage and no visible pollution – leaks. Great paleontology, animal sightings – deer, birds. All teams waded the Little Missouri River to reach Elkhorn Ranch site where they paid their respects to Theodore Roosevelt.

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Day #8 of the transect: April 29th, 2013

29 Apr

Day #8 of the transect: April 29th, 2013

All teams go deep and then cross the Little Missouri on foot.
Also pictured: The Explorers Club flag

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Adventure Science featured in Get Out There Magazine

29 Apr

Adventure Science featured in Get Out There Magazine

Earth Day, April 22, marks the start of 100 Miles of Wild, the first eco-expedition of Calgary-based Adventure Science set against the inhospitable backdrop of North Dakota’s Badlands. Over the course of 10 days, teams of ultra-endurance athletes and scientists will run, climb, and trek through one of the United States’ last unexplored and most rugged acres of wilderness, documenting the state of the vastly shrinking wide open spaces now under threat from expanding development from the Bakken oil fields.

“The first 100 Miles of Wild project has a simple aim,” Adventure Science founder and PhD geologist Simon Donato said. “We will discover and report first-hand the condition of the wilderness that inspired President Theodore Roosevelt’s effort to preserve the rugged, wild spaces for all Americans and the world.”

Adventure Science is a neutral organization of volunteer experts and citizen-scientists. While members obviously appreciate wilderness, they also have diverse viewpoints about oil development and growth. What they share is a determination to collect information and make scientific observations ahead of the drill-bit. The goal of the project is not to tell communities what to do, but rather to help them gather the information they need to make informed decisions. The team will produce educational materials to teach students and the public about the natural and historical significance of the region, as well as to educate them about the relationships between oil development, natural, and cultural resources.

Andrew Reinhard, one of the team’s two archaeologists, noted, “[team member] Richard Rothaus and I had been planning a relatively casual Badlands journey for the past few years. As the Bakken Oil Boom exploded, we realized we needed to hit this idea hard.”

Expedition members are no strangers to wilderness travel, backcountry navigation, and extreme sports. Most of the science-athletes are ultra-marathoners, mountaineers, ice climbers, and solo explorers. One is an ex-Army Ranger. All are supported by a seasoned crew of search-and-rescue paramedics and safety personnel.

“In the Badlands,” archaeologist Rothaus explained, “anything can happen. The weather in April could bring anything from blizzards to tornadoes. There’s no drinkable water. We’re traveling over more than 20,000 feet of elevation change in a short amount of time. And the rattlesnakes might be waking up.”

Along the Badlands transect the team members will document the flora, fauna, historical sites, archaeology, and geology they encounter. Every hour they will stop, record photos and video panoramas, and make an audio recording to check for noise pollution, making notes on what they observe. The route and records will be carefully tracked with GPS units. The world can follow along on Twitter using @100MilesOfWild and the #ndbadlands hashtag. 

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Day #7 of the transect: April 28th, 2013

29 Apr

Day #7 of the transect: April 28th, 2013

Richard Rothaus explains the custom of smudging with specially prepared white sage before the three Adventure Science teams of two departed on their transects this morning.

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Day #6 of the transect: April 27th, 2013 – The Adventure Science athletes have arrived

29 Apr

Day #6 of the transect: April 27th, 2013 - The Adventure Science athletes have arrived

Today was an 8-mile run to learn the terrain followed by an orientation to geology, archaeology, plant and wildlife.

Captain’s Log: April 26th, 2013 – Day #5: Real, Surreal, Romantic, and Wilderness

28 Apr
By Aaron Barth, Basecamp Manager

Last week while tooling around with and providing basecamp support for Richard Rothaus, Andrew Reinhard, and Adventure Science in the badlands and above the Bakken oil patch in western North Dakota, one of the evening camp sites we occupied was located in the National Grasslands. Starting on the evening of April 25, 2013, a Thursday, and ending on the morning of April 26, 2013, a Friday, I noticed that over the course of about 10 hours, depending on the direction one looked and at what time of day, the spot of our camp site was on a borderland between the city and the country, the petroleum industry and the grassland wilderness.

Reinhard ultimately found the place we would camp that night, this on one of the thousands of finger-ridge buttes that the badlands offers. On the butte of our campsite (about 15 to 20 miles west of Grassy Butte, North Dakota), short trees and shrubbery protected our spot from any potential winds that would come out of the west and north, and just a bit to the east. A larger butte to the south would provide additional wind break. A raised and ditched scoria/clinker road wrapped around this larger butte, and like most of these roads, it was made sturdy enough for semi tractor trailer traffic.

Below are photos arranged in chronological order, and this speaks to how the surreal and romantic, the wilderness and industry, all intersect at one particular location, and all in less than half a day.

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Photo of evening campsite, looking north, tent at bottom-center.

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Just as the sun dips down and sets in the west behind the badland buttes.

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Photo looking to the north. Andrew Reinhard at left has Richard Rothaus at right go over his photos from another 10+ mile leg of Adventure Science’s 100 miles of North Dakota Wild.

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Not long after the sun set in the west, I looked to the east and saw this moon rising.

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While the moon was low in the sky, it looked like this, with serious camera zoom.

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While the moon was low in the sky, it looked like this, with serious camera zoom.

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Just as the sun starts to rise, the petroleum industry returns. This photo is from our National Grasslands campsite, early morning, facing south.

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Eventually one embraces the industrial surreal and absurd, and begins to make morning coffee while smiling. This photo is from the campsite, facing south toward the scoria/clinker road and taller butte.

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After the coffee was made, chairs were set up along the roadside to take in the industrial sounds of a morning in western North Dakota. This photo is from the campsite, facing west-southwest.

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Day #4 of the transect: April 25th, 2013

26 Apr

Day #4 of the transect: April 25th, 2013

A functioning oil pad with pipe and flare at left. Also pictured: Badlands