At this time next week I’ll be winging my way over the vast Pacific Ocean, headed towards three months of work on the world’s largest active volcano. That’s incredibly soon, isn’t it? I have this week off from school and work, so I’m attempting to get some of my household in order. My husband will take care of our animals and the bills that I usually pay. Without his support and that of my parents and professors this whole excursion would certainly not be possible.
In preparation for the trip I’ve had to acquire some new gear. To this point, all of my geology field work has been in environments like Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. The windward side of the Big Island of Hawai’i receives well over 100 inches of rain every year. In addition to actual rain gear, this trip to Hawai’i demands new field boots. My typical geology footwear is Caterpillar brand steel-toed men’s work boots. I’ve had the same pair since 1999 and they’ve stood me in remarkably good stead. However, the volcanologist I’m working for informed me that I should bring steel-toed boots under no circumstances. Upon reflection, I realized that the ambient heat from any active lava flows would make steel a very unpleasant substance under which to keep my feet. New boots were a must.
I managed to find these boots on sale for only $45 at JC Penney. Excellent! I broke them in a bit on a trip to Arizona (Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon) last week and I think they’ll be ready for some lava action next week.
As for other gear I’ve obtained a few new pairs of work pants, an amazing new backpack, and a new tent. I still need a small mummy-style sleeping bag and a ground pad. A few more long-sleeved thermal undershirts wouldn’t hurt either.
Due to the luggage weight restrictions imposed by the airlines, I won’t be taking my trusty and beloved rock hammer. The Hawaiian Islands are all composed of basalt anyway, so it’s not like what I’ll be encountering is tremendously surprising. I know that I will feel slightly off for a while without the hammer, but since it tips the scales at 20oz, it’s certainly not worth carting across the ocean.
If anyone has questions or comments about the gear I’m taking with me, feel free to leave a comment below this post. The departure date draws inexorably nearer! (And yes, I’m ridiculously excited.)