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“Out in the Cold Rain and Snow”

Journal Entry 13: Thursday, July 31, 2008

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA– Finally, there is time to journal, as we are still relaxing in the “Salix Lounge” (Latin genus for willow). We’ve spent 36 hours watching the river flow backward – upriver. It has granted us time to catch up on some of the scientific literature, so we’ve been discussing the changes underway in North Slope river floodplains. We showed awhile back that encroaching vegetation is stabilizing floodplains and apparently causing the rivers to shift gradually from a braided regime to an anastomosing regime. That is another way of saying that gravel bars are becoming more vegetated, thus stabilizing current channels and often preventing new channel formation. Floodplains are difficult for drawing inferences about climate, because change is a natural process in floodplains, but floodplains are focal points for plant and animal diversity, so are they also often focal points of our discussions.

With the constant north wind, we are now thinking about switching our paddling hours from the middle of the day to the middle of the night, in hopes of catching calmer weather and a bit of mileage downriver.

2:30 AM that night. The raft is parked while we execute a sampling technique called the “pebble count” to understand river morphology.
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