Archive for January, 2008


Stay Hydrated; Stay Warm

I currently work in climate research, determining CO2 concentrations in polar ice. As part of that process I spend a few hours a day working in a freezer at -25 degrees Celsius. One thing I do to help combat the cold (along with all the layers I wear) is to drink as much water as possible, a few hours prior to going in the freezer. 

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Courtesy photo (Eric Cravens): Me at USGS National Ice Core Lab, Denver, CO

Dry, cold air causes the body to lose water at a greatly accelerated rate. Breathing through the mouth during exercise under such conditions speeds up the dehydration process through exposure of moisture reserves in mucous membranes to this super dry air. Additionally, the body sends as much blood as possible to the core to provide insulation. This can become a critical if dehydrated because the thickened blood won’t reach to the constricted capillaries of the extremities potentially leading to hypothermia. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that if you suffer from cold on the river, in addition to your usual measures of staying warm, try drinking more water, it may help.


Jesse Coombs Back in Action

I received a phone message from my paddling buddy Jesse the other day saying he’s ready to get back on the water after breaking a few fingers on a creeking trip last year. Jesse has such a positive attitude about being hurt and the injury only put him out of action for a few months. I am super happy for him for his speedy recovery. He gives a full account here on the JK website and although I havent seen the carnage video yet, I have a feeling its a good’n'gory one. Cant wait to get back on the water with ya Jesse-we all missed ya this season!


Power from Poop?

Prior to my present position in climate change research I worked on ocean sediment biofuel cell research and herein lies the premise of this post. In a world where the populace is (thankfully) becoming increasingly concerned with reducing their carbon footprint, biofuel cells could play an important role in this reduction, especially where outdoor activities are concerned. Imagine you are on a trip on the Grand Canyon and you are charged with being the human waste carrier. Some might think this a crappy job (if you pardon the pun) but in the future, poop maybe the biggest source of energy for such an expedition, through use of microbial fuel cells (MFC’s). Alternatively imagine a world with heated pogies, paddles and seats. MFCs have a lot of potential applications in the future.


Courtesy Photo: Colorado River, Grand Canyon by James Bagley Jr.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. It produces electricity by extracting electrons from fuel (on the anode side) and producing oxidized product (on the cathode side). Microbial fuel cells acquire their electrons from organic material or waste (e.g. poop). Under oxygen free conditions, Geobacter, (the most common microbe used in such cells) can be injected into the organic material and it feeds on this waste. During digestion, Geobacter pulls electrons from waste material, subsequently shuttling those electrons to the anode, forming part of a circuit. As electrons flow through the circuit (toward the cathode), they generate electricity. This electricity could be used be used to power small portable units such as lights, stoves, etc.


Schematic: Adapted from here The process is currently under development by numerous academic, governmental and industrial research groups worldwide, all aiming to optimize power output per unit of organic material. While current developments have not progressed enough to release commercially available units, the motions have been set in place to make power from poop.


One Week Break

I am now entering the 5 day countdown to returning to Wales for vacation. This means it’s my ”do nothing week/ weekend”. Why, I hear you ask? You see, I’ve started a very unhealthy tradition of crashing my car the week before go home (this happened the last two times). This is in addition to the fact that the weekend before I flew home last time,  I had a little ‘mishap’ while creeking, resulting in two black eyes, a big lump on my forehead, swollen jaws and stitches in my chin. Oops. We have the incident on helmet cam, so expect a video some time in the future

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My mother specifically requested that I wouldn’t do anything ‘crazy’ this weekend…I’d better adhere to that. So learning to knit it is- Mum, Dad, I hope you are reading this and making note of my effort to remain as sessile as possible. It’s tough, but for your sake and the sake of my car and medical insurance premiums, I’ll do it.



Shuler and Stauffer discuss the Surfrider Foundation- Podcast

From the Oregon Surfrider website; with permission: In a phone conversation recorded on November 25, 2007, long time Oregon surfer and board shaper Lanny Shuler and Pete Stauffer, Oregon Policy Coordinator, discuss the nature of Surfrider and its various activities around the state of Oregon. Topics covered include the Georgia Pacific campaign, Blue Water Task Force, marine reserves, wave energy, LNG, dredging issues, and of course, surf culture and community in Oregon. To access the podcast click on the photo below.


Photo: Sunrise over the Coast Range, Newport, OR

Check out the SAVE TRESSLES! campaign


Greyhound Bus the Cheapest Way to Ship Kayaks within the US?

I’m sure some of you, like me, have sold used boats to buyers in far away locations. I’ve used companies such as Forward Air with great success. Recently I’ve been finding that traditional carriers such as FedEx have been reducing their dimensional weight limit, resulting in increased shipping costs. However, I’ve just been made aware of shipping via the Greyhound Bus Company. These guys use real dimensions for shipping, not dimensional weight – now thats’ a refreshing change. Packages need to be within the limit: 30 inches X 47 inches X 82 inches and <100 pounds in weight. Great for shipping playboats. The only downside (as far as I can tell) is that for some areas of the country maximum insurance liability value is $300.

And because I know kayakers are pretty savvy when it comes to saving money, for those of you who like to have a few more bucks in YOUR wallet, you can find a coupon for 25 % off your first shipment here (expires May 2008). Nice.


Scouting a Coastal Creek

Given the amount of rain that the Oregon coast receives it is little wonder that there are multitude of small creeks out there- some paddled, others waiting for that first descent. One of my goals is to paddle source to sea on one of these little creeks. On Sunday I went on a hike to scout one of the creeks that I didn’t think had been run [Editors update: This creek has been run many times and is in soggy sneakers]. It was a tough choice to hike because the Nelscott Reef Tow-in Surf competition was happening in Lincoln city. Watching the pro-sufrers surf 30 ft waves or scouting? This time scouting for creeking prevailed.

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I’ll go back to check the creek after a good storm and hike to the headwaters next time (with GPS to check elevation gain). For sure there’ll be a bunch of portages and I don’t think the water will offer up any more than a class II/III, at least as far as I hiked. This trip presented a sunny day, good swell and numerous photo opportunities. I love the Oregon coast!

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Lake Creek @ 12.5 ft

Yet another lake creek run was on the agenda last weekend. Some of the PXgirlpaddler crew (Ann, Amy and Kim) made the trek down and joined some of the regular cor-vegas crew for a great day on the river. At 12.5 feet the river was at optimium levels for a great play-day. A lot of the local pro-boaters were out and one even surfed bus stop. Grassy lawn eddy was definately a party eddy (with about 20 people in it). We played a couple of times on grassy prior to heading down stream, bumping into ryan and pete on the way. After the run was done, we headed back up to park and play at a now empty grassy lawn until we were exhausted.

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