Alpine Adventure: GEM 2010

Two weeks ago I attended the 2010 GEM (Geospace Environment Modeling) Summer Workshop. This was maybe the fifth time I’ve attended GEM. It is really a fun science meeting because it is always in a nice hikable western environment, and it is much smaller than many other meetings (less than 400 people). So it is easier to talk at length with many other scientists about a relatively small number of topics. I wish all meetings were around that size. The past two years this meeting has been in Snowmass, Colorado, which is a ski town across the valley from the perhaps somewhat more known, Aspen.

I brought my banjo with me to the meeting, despite the fact that I was flying United, and everyone knows that United breaks guitars. At first I wasn’t sure how to pack the banjo because I have just a soft gig-bag, and I was pretty sure I’d be forced to check it at least on the small plane from Denver to Aspen. However, I realized that I could easily pad the banjo if I disassembled it and stowed it in my internal frame travel backpack. It turns out that disassembling a banjo is really easy. I had the thing completely unstrung and disassembled in about 4 minutes. I hadn’t thought about that advantage of an instrument held together by bolts rather than hide glue. Here’s how the Deering Goodtime looked when I arrived in Snowmass:

Within 25 minutes it was strung up and tuned again—tuned to itself anyway; it was about a minor third flat until I downloaded a tuner.

On the first day of the meeting I decided to go on a hike up the mountain behind the hotel. In the middle of an awful headache the next morning I read that “to avoid altitude sickness when traveling to locations above 8000′ one should avoid strenuous activity and alcohol for 24 hours after arriving at altitude”. The views were nice though, and I found an impressive pile of snow at the base of a ski jump:

I also found a deer or elk print in the mud:

Where did this mud come from? It came from this gurgling mountain stream (such as might be referred to in a Coors Light commercial). Taste the Rockies (but watch out for giardia):

The meeting week also featured my favorite phase of the moon, the waxing gibbous:

I’ve always thought waxing gibbous could easily be the name of a primate species.

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Explore posts in the same categories: From the Road, Nature, Pictures, Video

One Comment on “Alpine Adventure: GEM 2010”

  1. kingshearte Says:

    I love you for linking to that video. The guy’s actually a friend of mine, and I was so pleased to see the reaction he got after that unfortunate incident.

    Glad you were able to safely transport your banjo, though.


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