Saturday, November 21, 2009

Physics Demo: #2

Check out our Physics Class' Demonstration #2: Momentum, Collisions and Impulse

Emily Allen
Griff Griffith
Olin Wimberg

Friday, November 13, 2009

Santa Teresa, Peru!

After a much needed and greatly appreciated ten-day fall break, we all arrived in Cusco early last Thursday. After several long flights from Denver to L.A., L.A. to Lima, and Lima to Cusco, we finally arrived. We drowsily disembarked the plane and were happily greeted by Kristi and a tour bus to take us to our Cusco hostel. Despite the lack of sleep, we were all excited to finally be in the greatly anticipated destination: Peru.

We spent two nights in the city of Cusco and had plenty of opportunities to practice our Spanish with the locals and buy loads of souvenirs. Our Spanish classes consisted of a citywide scavenger hunt, forcing us all to use our somewhat limited Spanish vocabulary to interact with Peruvians.

Workout: Climb up the mountain (base=11,000 ft), sit-ups next to Incan Ruins

After our time in the city we packed up to head to our next destination. We had another seven hours of traveling over mountain passes and driving along deep canyons to our new home in Santa Teresa. Currently we are camping at Cola de Mono and will stay here for the next three weeks. The site is a few minutes outside of Santa Teresa and we have room for each of our tents and a large canopy to eat and have class under. The location is close to several creeks and river runs, not to mention three meals are cooked daily for us. The only setbacks are the amount of mosquitoes, most of us were covered in itchy bites by the first morning workout, and the absence of one major thing: kayaks.

Swiftwater Rescue Review Day

Our home base in Santa Teresa

Shortly after we had arrived in Santa Teresa we were greeted with the bad news. All 14 of our new Jackson boats are stuck in Lima customs, and have not yet been released into the country. Obviously a major part of our daily school routine is missing. World Class Kayak Academy has become more like World Class Camping Academy. Despite this, we have still been able to find plenty of activities to fill time that is usually spent paddling.

Community service day, putting those muscles to work

We have assisted with some community service, which consists of moving wheelbarrow loads of dirt down the road to build a driveway over a marshy patch of land, enjoying a night-time hot spring soak, and also making an impromptu trip to Machu Picchu. We rode a train into the town at the base of Machu Picchu and spent the night. Early the next morning we headed to the top of the mountain, and spent the entire day exploring the ruins and absorbing Peru’s history. In the afternoon, when we were left to explore the landmark on our own, half the group hiked to the top of Wayna Picchu and enjoyed the perfect view of Machu Picchu below. After a full day, we walked along the railroad track back to Santa Teresa.

Machu Picchu visit (students have a million more photos!)

Since then, our days have been filled with double amounts of classes and a review of swift river rescue. The group has kept up a positive output and morale has been high, despite such a long hiatus from paddling. Soon, however, we will rent boats to use until the others arrive and we will be able to train and prepare for the upcoming multi-day/self-support trips. Our long stint as World Class Camping Academy will soon be over, and we can be World Class Kayak Academy once again.

Article: Emily Allen

Photos: Susan Hollingsworth

Field Trip to the Coal Fields of West Virginia

On our final day at the Gauley River we packed up camp and drove two hours to the home of Larry. Larry’s home sits on a small mountain in Marsh Fork, West Virginia, the heart and soul of American coal mining. The 50-acre property is filled with this "black gold" and is valued at around 60 million dollars. Larry told us all about his life and the coal companies that he has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. After the presentation, the students were able see to dozens of mountain top removal sights from the safety of a nearby peak. I think I speak for every one when I say it was a bitter sight; we could see thousands of acres of destroyed mountains. Thick vegetation used to cover the vast hillsides; it has now been reduced to dirt and rock. It was hard to comprehend the damage to the surrounding environment. This unique experience opened our eyes to harmful ways of the American coal industries.

After the tour of Larry’s property we drove to Marsh Fork Elementary. The elementary school is less than a hundred yards from an enormous coal silo. Ivan Steifel, a former WCKA teacher and anti coal activist, gave us a brief presentation about the poor air and water quality in the surrounding area. The school also sits just below the dam of a 2.8 billion gallon coal slurry. A coal slurry is a large body of water that serves as a dumping ground for coal waste. Coal slurries create highly toxic waste that can leak into surrounding wells and ground water supplies. I had never known how coal companies can affect the health of local communities.

During the last leg of our journey we visited the Coal River Mountain Watch base camp. The CRMW is a group of people fighting against coal mining. The students piled in to House #3, in which we were able to interact with members of CRMW and discuss the issues with coal mining. Every one at the Coal River base camp had interesting perspectives and stories to share.

By the end of the day we all came out with a plentiful set of knowledge on coal mining. Being able to see coal mining and its effects on the environment was one of the coolest field trips I have ever been apart of. I feel that I learned more about coal mining at WCKA than I ever could have in a formal classroom.

Eric Parker