Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First scientific expedition

Update.--I have updated this blog entry with the initial Web pages which will be a suite of Web pages on the 1896 expedtion by the USGS team. The first set has the overview which will serve as the guide and the description and a map of the route of the 1896 expedition. These Web pages will be updated and added as work conintues on this project.

Original Post.--In July 1896, the first scientific expedition of Mount Rainer was sponsored by the US Geological Survey with a team of Bailey Willis, expedition leader and engineer turned geologist who pioneered some of the trails into the northwest quadrant of what is now the National Park, Israel Cook Russell, geologist, and George Otis Smith, another geologist, and others.

The purpose of the expedition was to explore and identify the geology and glaciers of the mountain. The expedition used the trail established by Willis which went as far as Chenuis Falls, and the group cut a new trail to the foot of the Carbon glacier to establish a base camp. From there a team of four summited the mountain where they stayed overnight due to darkness. They took a descent route to Paradise Park where they found a party of campers to rest and explore Emmons glacier before returning to the Carbon River base camp.

Once rested againthey explored the areas of Spray Park and the upper Mowich River basin on the way back to Carbonado. This trip is fully described along with the geology and glaciers in Russell's chapter in the 1896-97 Annual Report, "Glaciers of Mount Rainier" and you can also find a brief description in Aubrey Haines' book, "Mountain Fever."

When the report was published, they had identified and named many of the glaciers on Mount Rainier, see map below.

The map doesn't show the Carbon River valley and the trail established to Chenuis Falls, but it shows the two other trails which had been developed in and around Mount Rainier, the Grindstone Trail up the Mowich River valley to Spray Park and the Nisqually Trail from Longmire to Paradise Park. All of this was the state of the area when it became a National Park in 1899.

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