08 February 2009

Day 1: Orientation and Training Day

27 January 2009

Image: Sitting around the fire pit during the expedition and safety briefings. Left to right: Dan, me and Sabine. Credit: Dave Decker.

When one thinks of the Mojave, the hottest desert in the American Southwest, it doesn’t register that it can also be incredibly cold. During the winter, low temperatures can range well below freezing. Our team was welcomed to the Mojave those nighttime temperatures. Last night, it was darn cold! I had a 15 degree bag and wool blanket and my feet were frozen most of the night. Thankfully, the weather forecast is that it will become increasingly warmer throughout the next 10 days.

The team trickled in last night, and I was among one of the last members to arrive. I got hung up in Flagstaff, and had to drive through bad weather until I dropped down off the Mogollon Rim. Snow was falling sporadically yet heavily in places until I reached Kingman. So, it was slow goings until I reached the desert lowlands.

Image: Denise Hill (Safety Chief) demonstrating how to tie a diaper sling. Credit: Dave Decker.

Today was the orientation and training day. I went over expedition goals, identified the expedition chain of command, and addressed overall project objectives. Denise, our safety chief and medical specialist went over basic first aid, typical rescue situations and then we did a knot review. Thereafter, Dan led the cartography training; he walked us through the mapping techniques to be applied during this expedition. All of this took up most of the morning.

Once we went addressed everything related to project orientation, we spent the latter half of the day in the field. Tim and I began investigating potential study sites, while Dan took everyone else to a large non-cave feature to continue the cartography training.

We determined we will have three teams on this trip – the sensor deployment team (Tim and I), and two mapping teams (everyone else).

Image: Dan is leading a training exercise. The cartorgraphy teams are being taught how to use the new volumetric mapping techniques that we developed. Credit: Dave Decker.

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