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Five Map Friday

June 26, 2011

This past Friday I collected the second portion of data on one of the semester courses. This consisted of going out to the Absarokas and getting up to date weights, body fat percentages, and muscles masses. I also gave out heart rate monitors, diet logs, clothing logs, and activity logs. Finally, I doses one subject with doubly labeled water. This, though the easiest portion of data collection for me, is the MOST important for the project. I do relatively little, just pass out various pieces of equipment and paper, but the data from those heart rate monitors and the various logs make up the meat of this project. It is a rather nerve wracking experience placing the quality of my data and the care of heart rate monitors at $450 a piece into the hands of a bunch of 18-21 year olds for the next two weeks. I prefer to not think about it.

That was the basic punch line of Friday, now here is the story leading up to it. I will spare you the details of all the tedious work of prepping all the equipment and logs for the subjects. However, let me describe to you how I was briefed by the NOLS people for the actual road trip to the Absarokas. The original plan was for me to catch a ride with the NOLS bus as it brought out new rations to my subjects. But, turned out that bus was going out the day before to drop off another course, and the driver was just going to stay out there. So, I was told I had to drive out there myself. Once I was told that, I then took part in about an hour long briefing on how to get to the road-head of the Absarokas. This briefing started with the NOLS people pulling out five different maps…five different maps to travel less than 100 miles, also I was given a hard core GPS unit. We went over the maps several times, each time I was getting more and more concerned. And then, I was asked what type of car I own. I told them I have a 2007 Ford Fusion (basically a 2-wheel drive sedan with low clearance). They just stared at me in silence for a good 15 seconds. They then proceeded to tell me about the conditions I will likely encounter during the last 20 miles of the trip. I was told to expect twisty roads with massive amounts of mud and deep ruts. It was at that point they decided to give me satellite phone so that I could call for help in the likely event that my car got stuck. Here are the implements of travel.


The morning of this trip I went and picked up Kate, and we began our journey. We got to travel through the cute town of Dubois, WY which is currently under threat of some pretty major flooding. They have been fill sand bags for the past several days and putting them around all buildings near the Wind River. It was a very smooth journey, and as we approached the dirt road that would take us to the road-head, we both got very nervous about what we would encounter. We had all five maps out and ready to guide us. To both of our delight and surprise, the road was in fantastic condition. I mean this road was actually better than the old dirt road I grew up on; there were some muddy spots and some minor ruts, but absolutely nothing to cause concern. It was a shockingly easy ride. We even got to see a few elk which were huge and gorgeous. As we got close to the road-head, the Absarokas Range came into full few. This is very interesting mountain range in that the mountains do not really form peaks, but more flat mesas.

We finally got to the road-head and the campsite where we were going to meet the course. I had brought along lots of fresh fruit, Cliff bars, and Snickers bars for them. They had been out in the field for 17 days at that point and were DELIGHTED to have fresh food and new faces. I had to endure several hugs from people who had not showered once in those 17 days. It was a pleasure to see how happy they were. I had a meeting with the whole group and passed out the logs and heart rate monitors. I went over all the rules and the importance of being careful with the equipment. They were all really excited to see how their weight, fat percentage, and muscle mass changed. At first, it seemed like I would not be able to get these measurements. The scale refused to work on the ground even on the most level of areas. So, I decided to try it on top of the picnic table that was present at the road-head. And it worked! It became a great big group event where everyone had to stand on a scale on top of a picnic table. All of them really enjoyed it and a lot of the guys started taking bets on how much muscle they lost because of the lack of protein in their diets. Administering the dose of the doubly labeled water went fairly well. This is the “golden goose” subject providing a pre-dose urine sample (he was very proud of himself) and then drinking the DLW dose.

Delivering the first urine sample!

Drinking the doubly labeled water

And finally we took some group shots.

The drive back consisted of running into an older man and his wife who do wilderness horseback tours. He went to Michigan Tech for undergrad and is originally from Wisconsin (that is where Kate is from). When we got back into Dubois, we stopped for a coffee with ice cream in it, and then finished the rest of a successful and wonderfully uneventful ride back home!

In another week, I set out for my great tour of the West to meet with the two different semesters at different locations for a whole bunch of data collection. This will last about a month and a half and will take me through the rest of the first half of this project.

Some more Absarokas pictures.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jessica permalink
    June 26, 2011 8:32 pm

    That’s the beautiful WY I know and love. And the beautiful Cara.

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