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Be aware and prepare

Hiking the full 340-kilometer length of the John Muir Trail (JMT) isn’t a beginner backpacking trip. Make sure you enjoy slowly plodding up switchbacks carrying a heavy pack for days before you start out on this weeks-long trek. That said, I met a surprising number of people for whom the JMT was their first wilderness foray, and as far as I know, they all survived.

26 Feb 2014

Getting there and getting around on the John Muir Trail

The best time to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT) is late summer. To plan your own adventure, start by reading up on the trek at various websites such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s JMT trail site (www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/) and in guidebooks. Then, when you know when you want to go, procure your permits. To start in Yosemite, you can apply for permits through their lottery over the winter or get a permit for an alternate trailhead like we did.

26 Feb 2014

Getting There and Getting Around France

Most flights to France from the U.S. land in Paris. If you are heading directly to Provence, you can fly from Paris to Marseille-Provence Airport. Another option is France’s high-speed TGV train, which zips between the capital and Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles. 

24 Feb 2014

Southern Rhone wines

The Rhône Valley’s wine-growing regions are divided into two sections, with only its southern portion located in Provence. The Southern Rhône is best known for distinctively spicy red wines, the result of producing extremely low yields from very old vines whose grapes’ sugar content and acidity levels are further concentrated by the region’s fierce winds. The result is unusually dense wines full of earthy flavors.

 
24 Feb 2014

Travels in Geology: A taste of Provence

Nestled among the soaring Alps, the shining Mediterranean Sea, and the historic Rhône River, Provence, France — one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations — offers visitors scenic, gourmet, and geologic delights. The region’s rugged mountains, extensive plateaus and vineyard-lined slopes result from the Alpine orogeny, the mountain-building episode that uplifted the Pyrenees and the Alps in southwestern and southeastern France. The land in between was more modestly deformed, then gradually eroded over millions of years, to create the chefs-d’oeuvre — the masterpiece — that we now call Provence.

24 Feb 2014

Tsunamis from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?

The Great Lakes, along with the U.S. East Coast, the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of mysterious large waves striking unsuspecting coastlines. Such waves have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides. Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis. 

19 Feb 2014

A history of tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes

Severe and deadly seiche events are rare on the Great Lakes. In the last century, about 10 major waves have hit the shores of the Great Lakes, but smaller anomalous waves occur much more frequently. Many of the deadliest have occurred on Lake Michigan, but Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie have also experienced them. In addition to the June 26, 1954, event, some others were: 

18 Feb 2014

A tsunami by many other names

Storm-triggered waves have been recognized and recorded around the world, including the U.S. where, in addition to the Great Lakes, they have occurred in New England, on the West Coast and on the Gulf Coast. In some parts of the world, they are common enough to have special names. In Croatia, the phenomenon is called Šćiga; in Malta, it is Milghuba; in Spain, Rissaga; in Japan, Abiki; and in Finland, Seebär. Scientists everywhere call them meteorological tsunamis, or meteotsunamis. Here are a few notable occurrences:

18 Feb 2014

2013 Front Range Flooding: An Ecological Perspective

The 2013 Colorado floods may have been a record-setting event in human terms, but scientists and resource managers emphasize that what happened along the Front Range was a natural occurrence.

26 Jan 2014

When water, gravity and geology collide: Firsthand observations of the impacts of the 2013 Colorado floods

Around almost every bend in the road on our tour of the Colorado Front Range and points downstream in the weeks after the September floods, the physical devastation confronted us like a punch in the gut. Even though we had all seen graphic images on the news, observing the destruction firsthand, especially from a geologic perspective, was truly stunning and humbling.

21 Jan 2014

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