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1987 Field Camp

The 1987 Penn State Field Camp
Dave Eggler

Duff was on sabbatical in 1987, and so I was in charge of arrangements and logistics for field camp.  John Barry took Dave Egglerthe one and only maxivan, dubbed Geobeast, with the students arrayed neatly (?) inside, on the cross-country trip to Montana.  Bill Duke taught at YBRA and on the trip down to Utah, and at the U of U dorms for the Gun Club exercise.  Bill hadn't done the Elk Basin exercise before, but Dr. Foose pronounced their maps to be excellent, so they must have been excellent. The overall map, upside down, is actually on the T-shirt!

     I arrived in SLC about the time that Bill backed the van into a loading dock, rearranging the rear bumper (see the picture), and about the time that Kjell ran about 12 hours overtime on his Gun Club report.  His stream-of-consciousness, ever-recircling style of writing knew no time constraints.  (I also read the best reports in my 20 years of field camp that summer.  Nan, a former Collegian editor, wrote precise reports that were comprehensive without being lengthy.  My written insructions said that the geologic history should "tell a story."  She really did tell a story.)

     After a field review of the Gun Club quarry, we headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon for the Alta overthrust and Alta stock exercises that I led.  The Peruvian more-or-less didn't want us that summer, so we struck a deal, along with the University of Utah, to use the Alta Lodge.  The per-day rate was more than it had been at the Peruvian, but we were served semi-gourmet meals.  No outdoor pool, but we had a volleyball court and an indoor hot tub.

     That summer I began the Alta reconnaissance project.  I thought we ought to see "the rest of the stock," especially because the country above Brighton is spectacular with all its lakes.  Besides, the trail more-or-less follows the stock contact.  So we went over Catherine Pass, around Lakes Mary and Martha, and came back over the pass above Twin Lakes into Grizzly Gulch.  We moved around as a group.  When we reached the Peruvian, however, John Michael was not with us.  Woops.... Dave McMillan was a collegiate runner, and I was in pretty good running shape, so we put on running shoes and took off on the route again, running most of it.  It grew dark, and we called out forlornly, again and again, for John Michael.  We eventually arrived back in Alta to find John Michael!  When he had realized we were not with him, he headed downhill to Brighton and hitchhiked through SLC and back up Little Cottonwood.

     One day during the stock project, I started walking back into Alta to do some grading.  I had gone about a mile when an afternoon storm swept up the canyon.  These are common in the mountains but are usually over in 20 or 30 minutes.  So I huddled under my poncho to wait it out.  This storm was particularly fierce with thunder and then lightning.  The temperature dropped noticeably, and it began to hail.  The hailstones were so large that I stuck my map case over my head, under the poncho, to protect myself.  When the storm finally subsided, I debated whether to continue on into Alta or to go back up the mountain to check on the troops.  I trudged back up the trail.  I found that all the groups had congregated into one short adit that miners had punched into a contact skarn just off the Twin Lakes Pass trail.  They were crowded but only slightly damp.  The trouble was that half the skarn was a garnet-diopside skarn but the other half a serpentine-magnetite skarn.  A magnetite-rich skarn near the top of a hill is not a good place to wait out a lightning storm!  I told this story the rest of my years teaching in the area.

     John Barry was Irish, and he had everyone following the Tour de France throughout our two-week stay in Alta; the Tour was won by the Irishman he was following.

     That summer I moved the Marysvale project to the end of camp, where it stayed until its demise.  Coming back one day from Marysvale to Monroe the "back way," a bumpy and dusty ride that I really liked, for some reason, we encountered students at Teapot Dome.  They turned out to be the Weber State field school, and all four students, three men and one woman, and their prof fit neatly (?) into his Volvo.  We kept running into them for the rest of our time there.  The last mapping day at Marysvale, John Barry and I sat in the van grading papers and maps.  The doors were open, and the overhead light was on.  That should not have caused any power loss, but when the students returned, the van would not start.  It was on top of a hill, but being an automatic, we couldn't jump-start the engine.  We also had no power brakes.  So I had the students walk a ways, and I stomped on the brake pedal and let the van roll downhill to more level ground.  We then pushed the van several miles toward the town of Marysvale until a passing pickup with jumper cables got us going.  I usually bought the students some cool drinks on the last day of mapping, but that day they really earned them.

     Dave and I ran the first annual Monroe 10K.  We stopped the van, on that back route to Monroe, 10K from town, changed into running gear, and the two of us ran into town.  The first mile or so was downhill, which helped.  But the temperatures in the high nineties got to me, and he faded into the distance.  I really limped when I encountered the hot, humid air of irrigated fields in the valley bottom.  But I persevered, and he came back and met me, and we jogged into camp.  He and I did the Monroe 10K once more the next year when he was TA.

     Most Utah towns celebrate a "second 4th of July" at Pioneer Days, commemorating the day Brigham Young and the pioneers crossed the Wasatch and saw Salt Lake valley.  Marysvale never was more than a very small town, even during its heyday in the 1950s uranium boom.  But as we drove through town on that day, our progress was impeded by its Pioneer Days parade.  It consisted of a few floats on wagons behind tractors or pickups, some veterans, and even kids in wagons.  As one float rounded a corner, it became unhitched, and our guys came to the rescue.  That night Monroe had its fireworks display behind the high school, which was right next to the Monroe Hot Springs campground.  The fire company was in charge.  I saw several of these displays in Monroe over the years, and I enjoyed them more than the big pyrotechnics in State College.  More than once, shells didn't go where they were supposed to and came directly back to earth on top of the firemen, who scattered in all directions.

     I had the students turn in their reports at noon, but we didn't leave until the next morning.  (In future years we left after lunch, sleeping that night at Dillon Lake in Colorado.)  So we were free to party a little (see the pool pictures).  I bought a few bottles of champagne.  At lunch John Barry constructed a pyramid of champagne glasses, such that champagne was poured into the top glass and cascaded downwards to fill all the glasses, as in the picture.  Quite a show.  I carried on that tradition for a few years afterwards.

     The 1987 class was a small but a close-knit and supporting group. Everyone deserved an A.  In retrospect, this was my favorite field camp group.