Anybody who’s anybody has read the Uncyclopedia about Geologists. It’s hilarious, it’s relentlessly quoted among my peers, and above all – it’s got some unreal truth to it. For me, it’s this particular quote from Odd Geological Formations: Recruiting a Geologist or the Geology Trap –
“It starts with an introduction to rocks by some other lost soul.”
Inspired by stumbling upon the SPECTACULAR photos by Sarah and her trip to Lassen Part I, II, and III, I started to reminisce about my first ever overnight field geology trip. I started to think about how important it was, and how it could possibly be the make-or-break point for any aspiring geologist. Though somehow I think if one were interested in being a geologist in the first place, the field trip wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Though I knew I wanted to be a geologist long before I graduated high school, that first trip was the most important. It was my Geology Trap.
It wasn’t my first geology class, and of course I had been introduced to rocks before, but this was my first geology class with a real, field-loving geologist. He loved field trips. He loved teaching. He would do anything it took to get us out in the field. I learned how dedicated he was from taking at least 4 different classes with this guy. I was hooked after my first two-night weekend away at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
It’s been approximately 7 years since I took this class (Yeah…been going to school for at least 8 now and I haven’t even gotten my Bachelors…I like learning, okay?!) so most of what’s left from that weekend are more feelings and snapshots rather than running memory.
The number one thing I took is that geologists aren’t afraid to break the rules. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that in we are so not conventional. I think it was the first time I had been treated like an actual adult. It was okay to do my own thing and investigate nearby areas that I found more interesting than what he was specifically lecturing about. In fact, he encouraged us to look around and think about what we saw. He would get so excited when someone noticed something interesting. Looking back, I’m pretty sure his favorite thing in the world was someone handing him a rock and asking about it. Which brings me to the geologist pose.
Have you seen the geologist pose? I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement. Or habit. Or instinct. Yeah! We’ll go with instinct.
How to do the geology pose:
- A rock
- A handlens
- a pencil
- a field notebook
Hold a rock or pencil with one hand, squint through a handlens or hold the notebook with your other hand. Put all your weight on one of your feet and casually bend and relax your knee and the other foot. Like so:
You will see this all the time. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is your run-of-the-mill stance for any human being, the difference being what you’re holding. I digress.
The number one thing that had me 100% sure I wanted to be a geologist – we went to check out the Subway Caves in near-by Hat Creek. We were camped at the campground right next to it. We went at night, and took our headlamps (This is also where I learned the importance of lumins in a headlamp, because mine sucked). I really wish I had pictures from that night, but I wasn’t so much into the memory keeping as I am now.
We left the campsite in a group. I was a little nervous because I had a tiny bit of claustrophobia, but overall I was okay. I’d been in the caves before, just never at night. It’s really quick, not that far, and not really that creepy. There is a longer part to the cave, but they had it blocked off due to whatever reason. 6 foot chain-link fence complete with Keep Out Under the Penalty of the Law sign. So I wasn’t worried about going in there.
Well….Guess what we did? Yep. We threw our backpacks over the fence, hopped over, and went on our merry little illegally spelunking way. I was freaking out on the inside, but I was not about to ruin it for everyone else.
It. Was. Awesome.
I still have pieces of tiny stalactites that I popped off the top of the cave, which happened to be next to my face because it got a little narrow at the end. I was so exhausted by the end of the next night when he went again that I could not possibly stay up long enough to go. I’ve since learned that you always go on the excursions with the professors because you will seriously miss out. And from the sounds of it, I did miss out on that second cave trip. They didn’t get back until 2 in the morning.
All in all, I took a lot away from that trip. Things I didn’t even realize I took away until writing this blog. There were so many things I could have expected from that one little trip – the places I would get to see, the things I would get to do, the people I would get to meet, the confidence I would get to build, and the geology I would get to learn.
I am so grateful for that first real field trip. If not for that kind of experience, I might have just changed my career path.
Thank goodness I fell into the geology trap.