2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost and 19th International Conference On Cold Region Engineering

Field Trips

The Conference location takes advantage of the nearby Front Range and San Juan
Mountains Field trip options include single to multi-day routes to see permafrost and
periglacial features as well as large cold regions engineering and infrastructure projects.

We are soliciting ideas and leaders for field trips, contact Tom Douglas to participate.

 

Trip 1: Remnant permafrost and collapsing dams in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trip 2: Natural hazards, water diversion project, and alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trip 3: Flooding and other hazards near Boulder

Trip 4: Tour of the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF)

Trip 5: Niwot Ridge permafrost hike

Trip 6: Critical Zone Observatory - Gordon Gulch hike


 

Trip 1: Remnant permafrost and collapsing dams in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road: Explore some of the last remaining permafrost in the lower 48 states with incredible views of the Rocky Mountains. At 12,000 feet Trail Ridge Road is one of the highest in the country with many opportunities to see wildlife. We will stop at the alluvial fan that resulted when the earthen Lawn Lake Dam collapsed on July 15, 1982, scouring millions of cubic yards of debris from the mountains. The trip will include a hike on the high altitude tundra and a stop at the scenic Alpine Visitor’s Center.

This excursion involves moderate to difficult physical difficulty.

It is a ~2.5 hour drive from Boulder to the entrance gate of Rocky Mountain National Park. This trip will depart Boulder very early in the morning (~7am) and will return before dinnertime. A boxed lunch will be provided, details to follow at a laer date. Participants on this trip should bring snacks, water, hiking boots or appropriate footwear, sun protection, and layers of clothes to accommodate all forms of mountain weather.

This trip is limited to 40 participants.

Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road


The Alluvial Fan


Trip 2: Natural hazards, water diversion project, and alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Explore Sprague Lake, a high alpine lake at 8600 feet with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Take a 0.9-mile hike around the lake to view the rugged Rocky Mountains and see dozens of waterfowl. We will stop at Saint Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock to inspect a 5-mile long landslide came down Mount Meeker during the flood of September 2013. We then will stop at Mary’s Lake to inspect the East Portal tunnel of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, the largest trans-mountain water diversion project in Colorado. This excursion involves easy to moderate physical difficulty.

It is a ~2.5 hour drive from Boulder to the entrance gate of Rocky Mountain National Park. This trip will depart Boulder very early in the morning (~7am) and will return before dinnertime. A boxed lunch will be provided, details to follow at a laer date. Participants on this trip should bring snacks, water, appropriate footwear for walking, sun protection, and layers of clothes to accommodate all forms of mountain weather.

This trip is limited to 40 participants.

Sprague Lake
Sprague Lake

Saint Catherines Chapel on the Rock
Saint Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock

Lake Mary
Mary’s Lake


Trip 3: Flooding and other hazards near Boulder

Boulder, Colorado and the surrounding region have experienced natural hazards in the last decade, including wildfire, flooding, and landslides. One of the most notable extreme rainfall events on record in the area occurred in September of 2013 resulting in a yearly average amount of rain for the area falling over a duration of just eight days. The event produced historic flooding and triggered debris flows, including earth, rock and debris slides. Recently burned forested areas sustained deleterious compound effects to due reduced slope stability and enhanced runoff generation of fire-affected slopes. Damage to infrastructure was substantial. The road to recovery via both natural processes and engineering efforts continues to this day. This field trip aims to explore the damage, compound effect, natural recovery, and engineering measures associated with the 2013 extreme event as well as other recent hazard events in the area. Experts will guide the ¾ day tour that involves stops at multiple points of interest west and north of Boulder. Opportunities for short hikes will be available at select point stops. This trip involves easy to moderate physical difficulty.

The bus will depart from the main conference venue at 8:30am returning by 4pm. Boxed lunches will be provided, details to follow at a later date. Participants on this trip should bring snacks, water, appropriate footwear for walking, sun protection, and clothing appropriate for local weather conditions.

This trip is limited to 40 participants.

Coal Creek Canyon
Highway 72 is washed out in the 2013 floods near Coal Creek Canyon (credit: Jefferson County Sheriff)

Bridge Collapse - Highway 287
A bridge collapse on a business access road at Highway 287 and Dillon Road in Lafayette causes three cars to fall in the creek on Sept. 13. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

Colorado 119
Even into 2020, blasting is taking place as part of the Colorado 119 and Boulder Canyon Trail upgrades. Colorado DOT is reconstructing the roadway and trail for greater safety after the area experience major flooding in 2013.

Additional images of flooding can be found at:

Flood Sample 1 / Flood Sample 2 / Flood Sample 3 / Flood Sample 4


Trip 4: Tour of the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF)

Curious about how ice cores are recovered or analyzed from glaciated regions of the world? Feeling hot just thinking about visiting the Boulder area in the heat of the summer? A trip to this world class ice core facility is just what you need to cool you down and fill you with amazement about ongoing research to store and curate meteoric ice cores. There is over 22,000 meters of ice core stored at this facility! A tour of the NSF-ICF will walk you through the chilly exam room (-24 degC) and the even chillier archive freezer (-36 degC). This excursion involves easy physical difficulty

This trip will be guided by ice core researchers working for the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado Boulder, who will discuss modern aspects of ice core research with trip participants during transit to and from the Denver Federal Center. Due to the location of the NSF-ICF facility in a government building, all adults must have a government-issued identification and some restrictions may apply. Please contact conference organizers for more information.

NSF-ICF is less than an hour’s drive from Boulder. This trip may be combined with a tour of INSTAAR’s Stable Isotope Facility on the CU Boulder campus, where participants will get to interact more closely with ice core samples and analysis techniques.

Bus(es) will depart the main conference facility in the late morning and will return mid-afternoon. Participants of this trip should wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a jacket, while gloves and hats are recommended for those brave enough to tour NSF-ICF’s archive freezers. Participants also should make sure to have snacks and water on hand.

This trip is limited to 25 participants.

Ice core
An ice core. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Ludovic Brucker.

Eric Craven - NSF-ICF

Eric Cravens, Assistant Curator, inside the NSF-ICF freezer. (public domain)


Trip 5: Niwot Ridge permafrost hike

This excursion brings participants to the Mountain Research Station operated by CU Boulder and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). After driving to the Mountain Research Station and quickly touring the facility, we will hike up to the alpine tundra near the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. The hike brings us from below the tree line to the open ridge; INSTAAR’s Mountain Research Station is located at 2900m and the highpoints on Niwot Ridge are closer to 3600m.

We will take participants to this iconic landscape of the high Rocky Mountains on a well-established trail used to visit the numerous permanent measurement sites. We will highlight several classic study sites for permafrost gelifluction, and solifluctions lobes. Systematic measurements started here in the 1970’s, and include meteorological observations, soil temperature profiles and stake surveys of soil movement. Repeat surveys, and recent drone surveys have provide indications the permafrost is degrading with regional climate warming.

The views from the high ridge are spectacular, and we will overlook the small alpine lakes of Boulder Watershed and see the vistas of Arapahoe peaks and glaciers. This trip involves difficult physical activity but slow hikers will be accommodated!

Bus(es) will depart from the main conference venue first thing in the morning (~8am) and will return before suppertime. It is about an hour’s drive from Boulder to the Mountain Research Station. Participants of this trip should have sturdy hiking boots, clothing appropriate for mountain weather, sun protection, snacks and water. A boxed lunch will be provided, details to come at a later date.

This trip is limited to 30 participants.

Arapahoe glacier
Image of Arapahoe glacier. Photo credit to Irina Overeem (INSTAAR)

Arapahoe glacier
Image of Arapahoe glacier. Photo credit to Irina Overeem (INSTAAR)


Trip 6: Critical Zone Observatory - Gordon Gulch hike

The Boulder Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) research site of Gordon Gulch sits at 2446-2737 m elevation. This low-relief forested terrain was affected by periglacial processes. This half-day excursion will take participants on a fun, one way downhill hike through the Boulder CZO Gordon Gulch terrain.

Excursion leaders will present the Boulder CZO program. Specifically, we will discuss frost weathering in the deep critical zone – below the mobile regolith layer, where diurnal and seasonal temperature swings are dampened. Gordon Gulch has profound differences in North and South facing slope conditions, typical for the mid-high elevation regions of the US West, and the implications of these differences for bedrock frost weathering were first quantified in this location. We will visit CZO long-term measurement sites, and discuss soil moisture and shallow groundwater dynamics. And there will be beautiful granite outcroppings to enjoy, if we get some willing hikers, we could stand on some gnamma-marked tors.

This trip involves moderate physical activity. Bus(es) will depart from the main conference venue ~9:00am and will return by mid-afternoon. A boxed lunch will be provided, details to come at a later date. Participants should have hiking boots or appropriate footwear, clothing appropriate for mountain weather, sun protection, snacks, and water.

This trip limited to 25 participants.