National Geographic : 1949 Nov
were "at home." Ed guards 93 summer cabins. They were creaking under the burden of 23 days' almost continuous snowfall! Ed obligingly climbed on skis to the ridge pole of one of the half-buried cabins as Jack snapped a picture. Just then Ed's wife called that coffee was ready. Ed nonchalantly skied down the steep roof. He wanted his coffee hot. Lesson in Snow Surveying At the Lake of the Woods snow course Jack and I took our first lesson in snow surveying. In the following weeks we all took turns at it. "Snow surveyors," Arch explained, "are as fussy about placing snow courses as a garden clubber planting rare bulbs. We locate 'em above the level of winter melting, naturally, and preferably in forest clearings." A steel pole topped with a yellow sign marked each end of the course. There were eleven stations (or sampling spots) at 100 foot intervals. Sampling stations average 10 to 15 to a course. Gaeton screwed together three hollow aluminum cylinders. When he drove the slotted tube through the snow to the ground, it showed the exact depth by inch lines on the side. The tube picked up a core of snow. Using a small spring scale, Gaeton compared the weight of the empty cylinder and the weight of tube-plus-snow. A simple conversion gave him the exact water content of the snow at each sampling spot (opposite page). The standard kit contains six tube sections that permit gauging snow to a depth of 15 feet. In areas of heaviest fall 20 feet of tubing often is needed! Gaeton deftly juggled the tube in what I called the Ritual Dance of the Snow Surveyor. "Sample number seven: Snow depth four two point zero. Core three six point zero. Full weight three three point zero." Gaeton called off the mystic numbers to recorder Bob Branstead. "Water content one two point two five inches; ground frozen." Reports Sent by Radio We had a nightly short-wave radio schedule with W. T. (Jack) Frost, head of Oregon snow surveys, at his office in Medford (page 693). Each day's snow measurements were reported the same evening. Integrated with many other records, these figures gave the basis for the April 1 water runoff forecast for Oregon. That's the most important forecast of the year. By April, water users have to know how much of the priceless fluid will be avail able during the coming summer. Furrowing our way among ruddy-barked ponderosa pines, we reached the south en- 0 I20^3040 * CA LI I STATUTEMILES 1i. l'Y Drawn by H. E. Eastwood and Irvin E. Alleman Snow Surveyors Traced a 573-mile Route Along the Spine of the Oregon Cascades To test snowmobiles for this work, Operation Sno Cat Cascade rambled south-to-north on the first com pletely mechanized snow survey. Heavy spring bliz zards slowed progress, later contributed to disastrous Columbia Valley floods (page 710). The party crossed Crater Lake -National Park and skirted white cones of Mounts Jefferson and Hood, the latter Oregon's highest peak and heart of a popular skiing area. trance road to Crater Lake National Park the next afternoon. Men waved at us from a staff car and a truck. It was a welcoming group from park headquarters.