Monday, November 19, 2012

Spring, summer, fall

It’s been awhile since my last post but life, and adventures, have carried on. The email from I got from Harmony (above) inspired me to write another post.

I’ve had two major developments in the last few months: Finishing up my master’s degree and moving to Washington, D.C. to start my first “real” job as a research assistant to a journalist.  

I spent spring quarter on Stanford’s main campus, my last quarter there. Besides my Earth systems classes I took a couple of classes in the journalism department—I wrote this story for one of them, which I’m quite proud of. It’s about Michael Kobold and two of the Sherpas I climbed Everest with (including Namgel, who I summited with).

Namgel with Everest in the background

I spent my summer finishing things up at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California. I took a class there called “Ecology and Conservation of Kelp Forest Communities.” It was an amazing class—we got to use Monterey Bay, which was right out our back door, as our laboratory and playground. We went scuba diving every morning to get a closer look at the organisms and ecosystems that we learned about in the classroom. I loved becoming so familiar with this totally other world—I felt so happy getting under the surface and seeing what’s really going out there in that vast expanse we call the ocean. (Well, most days I felt happy to. Bad visibility and cold, cold water did make it a little less than fun on some particularly groggy mornings). 

My kelp forest ecology class getting ready for a dive in Carmel Bay.

 One of my favorite dives was to a site where there’s shale beds (most of the rock there is granite), making for a different collection of critters than we found elsewhere in the bay. There were dozens of a type of nudibranch (sea slugs) called Melibe leonina. They were translucent white and anywhere from a few inches to almost a foot in length. Most of them were hanging off the kelp and feeding by letting their tentacles drift around their heads, but some were actually swimming by closing up their foot and undulating their whole bodies from side to side. They seemed so completely fantastical.

Me and a Melibe leonina

While a big part of me still misses seeing (and getting in) the ocean everyday, I think I’m starting to find my groove here in D.C., too. I had never even been to our nation’s capitol before moving here, and there have been a lot of little things to adapt to. But I did survive the two big events that swept through the past couple of week—hurricane Sandy and the election.

I’ve also managed to dip my toes into some of the climbing that the east coast has to offer, with a short trip to the Gunks in upstate New York and a couple of visits to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Check out my friend Keith's blog to read about my first day climbing (or more like trailblazing!) at the New. But I really enjoyed these trips--both the Gunks and the New have so much to offer. 

Me rappelling down after a climb in the New River Gorge (it's hard to take actual climbing shots when you're there with just one other person--I'd rather have a good belay than a good shot!)


Brandon Chalk said...


Absolutely loved the article on Namgel, Thundu, & Michael! Well written and indeed something to be proud of! Kristine & I know all three of those guys as we all were on Henry Todd's team & permit together in 2010 up Everest. I keep up with Michael here & there over email. A great guy. Namgel & Thundu are the absolute best of fellows as well.

Good luck in DC - its a great city. I love Georgetown. Good climbing on the Potomac as well. Enjoy your time there.


Samantha Larson said...

Thanks, Brandon!