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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Dana Bell
Thursday, September 19
Seedskadee NWR
SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

SEEDSKADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE TO PIONEER TRAILS PICNIC GROUNDS, SWEETWATER COUNTY

Our morning began early and chilly with hard frost on the ground. We were ready to depart the Refuge at 7:00 a.m. with a burnt orange sunrise still on the horizon and the river valley blanketed in misty fog. As with the rainbow and sunset last night the entire Team is out watching the day emerge and trying to take photographs that will capture the beauty of the morning.

Our first adventure of the day is a tour of the OCI (Oriental Chemicals, Inc. South Korean) trona mine. Jeff McClawson, BLM Mining Engineer accompanies us to the mine where we meet our guides/supervisors for the morning, Terry Leigh (geologist), Gary Reese and Pat McGarvey. I am not too sure about this tour as it involves going down 800 feet down into the mine (and I hate both small spaces and being underground.) Dave says that it is up to me if I want to go or not. With everyone else going it seems necessary to just handle the situation and go. We receive a safety review from Terry and are provided with hardhats, lamps, protective toe guards (“clunkers”), plastic goggles, breathing canisters to filter the air, and dust masks. Methane gas is common so no cigarette lighters or matches are allowed in the mine. Even to take flash pictures we would need to check first with our guides who would check hand-held meters before giving us the go-ahead. One big reassurance, at least to me, is that the OCI mine has an exceptional safety record in the industry. Finally, we descend down into the Big Island Mine deposit. And, apparently as we descended you could look down and see a tiny light that was the bottom of the shaft. I did NOT look down.

Trona is one-half sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and one-half calcium carbonate (soda ash.) The deposits in this area are 15 million years old, 90% pure, and produce 90% of the world’s supply of trona. Tona is used primarily as a catalyst for making glass, in soaps and detergents and for baking soda. There are numerous foreign partners involved in the different companies and 30% of the trona is exported.

Once we were down in the mine we loaded into diesel trucks outfitted with bench seats to carry about 10 people. According to Terry we drove three miles down one horizontal shaft to where drilling was taking place. Imagine three miles of dim tunnel about 10 feet tall by 20 feet wide with periodic hanging lights and waypoints marked on the walls with red paint. The air is chilly, has a peculiar odor to it, and at various points is gusty from the air circulation process. The three-mile ride seemed like 20. At the end of the tunnel is this huge drilling machine that chisels the trona off and inserts metal rods into the tunnel roof for stability as it bores the tunnel forward. The boring machine conveys the broken up rock back to a low, wide transport truck that departs with 18 tons of trona about every five minutes. The transport truck dumps the trona into a shallow trough and returns for another load. From the trough a conveyor belt carries the material though rotating metal discs, that beak the trona up further, and on up to the surface for processing. It is an unreal environment with these huge prehistoric looking machines, cables snaking about the stone floor, walls, and roof. Yet, every thing moves with precision and energy. It was a fascinating tour and experience but what a relief to come back up on the elevator, step out into fresh air and see blue sky.

After the mine tour it was back to the Green River for another 10-mile paddle. The past two days on the river were cool and at times overcast and drizzly. Today the sky was clear blue, the sun warm and the breeze light. The afternoon wildlife and scenery included great blue herons, hawks, cottonwoods now turning to fall yellow, brief glimpses of salmon and some huge fish - one at least 3 feet long, deer, one red fox, lots of ducks, and an interesting but rather trashy looking extended bank of old cars.

Our camp tonight is next to the river at the Sweetwater County’s Pioneer Trails Picnic Grounds. Normally this county park is open for day use but as has often happened on our Journey local hosts and agencies have “opened their doors” for us. And, tonight we have this entire wonderful facility for our campground. The park includes a large covered pavilion with tables for at least 400 people. We are using the pavilion as our “tent” for the night.

During dinner we again had Mike Brown with us telling us Green River stories. Mike, who previously worked for both the Forest Service and BLM at the Rock Springs and Green River offices, is now the Public Affairs Officer and Historic Trails Specialist for the BLM Elko, Nevada field office. The only problem with Mike is that his stories are so fascinating that you don’t want them to end and he loves to leave you hanging. From the Journey, dana
for Thursday, September 19
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Dana Bell
Dana and Mike by a beaver dam.
Dana Bell is the Project Coordinator for the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Monday, September 23
Dana Bell
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Sunday, September 22
Dana Bell
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Saturday, September 21
Dana Bell
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Thursday, September 19
Dana Bell
Seedskadee NWR
   >> more...

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Wednesday, September 18
Dana Bell
KEMMERER TO SEEDSKADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
   >> more...

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Monday, September 16
Dana Bell
SCALER CABIN TO WEEPING ROCK
   >> more...

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Sunday, September 15
Dana Bell
JACKSON TO SCALER CABIN
   >> more...

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Saturday, September 14
Dana Bell
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Friday, September 13
Dana Bell
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Thursday, September 12
Dana Bell
LITTLE GREYS RIVER TO BLIND BULL MINE TRAILHEAD
   >> more...

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Wednesday, September 11
Dana Bell
CLIFF CREEK TO LITTLE GREYS RIVER
   >> more...

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Tuesday, September 10
Dana Bell
KOA CAMPGROUND, WILSON, WY
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Monday, September 9
Dana Bell
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Sunday, September 8
Dana Bell
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Saturday, September 7
Dana Bell
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Thursday, September 5
Dana Bell
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Wednesday, September 4
Dana Bell
SUMMIT LAKE TO MADISON CAMPGROUND
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Tuesday, September 3
Dana Bell
BUFFALO CAMP TO SUMMIT LAKE
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Monday, September 2
Dana Bell
BLAIR LAKE TO BUFFALO CAMP
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Sunday, September 1
Dana Bell
SPRING CREEK TO BLAIR LAKE
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Saturday, August 31
Dana Bell
EAST CAMAS TO SPRING CREEK
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Friday, August 30
Dana Bell
DAY 31 - TABLE MOUNTAIN & MISTY OF KILKORE
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Thursday, August 29
Dana Bell
Shineberger to Old Beaver Campground, Dubois Ranger District, Targhee National Forest, Idaho
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Thursday, August 29
Dana Bell
LITTLE SHEEP CREEK TO SHINEBERGER
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Tuesday, August 27
Dana Bell
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Monday, August 26
Dana Bell
Camp Life and Lewis and Clark
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Sunday, August 25
Dana Bell
My Tent
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Saturday, August 24
Dana Bell
WILDLIFE DAY
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Thursday, August 22
Dana Bell
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Wednesday, August 21
Dana Bell
Day 22: Bushwhacking by Foot & Horse
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Tuesday, August 20
Dana Bell
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Monday, August 19
Dana Bell
COLD CREEK WATER & MICKEY
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Saturday, August 17
Dana Bell
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Friday, August 16
Dana Bell
FAMILY & HAPPY BIRTHDAY JON
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Monday, August 12
Dana Bell
SCAPEGOAT MOUNTAIN
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Monday, August 12
Dana Bell
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Sunday, August 11
Dana Bell
SENTINEL MOUNTAIN
   >> more...

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Saturday, August 10
Dana Bell
Sentinel Mountain
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Tuesday, August 6
Dana Bell
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Friday, August 2
Dana Bell
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Wednesday, July 31
Dana Bell
Get ready, get set, go!
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Tuesday, July 23
Dana Bell
First Journal Entry
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