Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hike today

Beautiful weather here in the Hudson Valley.  I had scheduled a field trip for today way back in August and really lucked out with the date.  Every fall I teach a Physical Geology lab course with a Saturday field trip (there are also two local field trips during the three-hour lab time).  I really don't think some of the college administrators realize the importance of field trips in geology but I'm sure all my geology teaching colleagues would agree with me that they're essential.

Since we're in Ulster County, the local field trips look at deformed sedimentary rocks in the local area as well as a number of geomorphic features (e.g. floodplains, local karst features, etc).  I use the Saturday fieldtrip, however, to go a little further afield and we drive down to the Hudson Highlands (Bear Mountain and Harriman State Park) to view igneous and metamorphic rocks.  Since today was such a beautiful day, I decided to change things around a bit and we took a several mile hike out to some old magnetite iron mines (Hogancamp and Pine Swamp mines specifically).  They're an interesting story because you can talk about the Grenville Orogeny over a billion years ago, gneiss, veins of magnetite iron, granitic intrusions, and modern glacial features (striations, chatter marks, erratics), as well as the history of iron mining in the area and the importance of local iron ore to the Revolutionary War effort.

One thing that made the hike a little hazardous were the dead leaves all over the trail.  On the steeper slopes, it was very slippery in places and a few people slipped onto their butts.  Fortunately, no one was hurt (always a concern when you're a couple of miles from a road with a group of students).  So, even though I worked on a Saturday with no extra compensation (the life of a geology professor), I did get to go on a nice hike in the woods which is what I might have done anyway.

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