Archaeotek Weekend 1- Ice Cave


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June 12th 2011
Published: June 12th 2011
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I had a great day yesterday, preceded by a good Friday. Our discussion on Friday was great, and a nice break from the morning lecture, and then our quizzes were not as bad as I was anticipating, although I haven’t got the grading back. I’m more familiar with the bones that we are working with, to the point of actually identifying a few of the bones, which was really cool. I'm getting more confident in the labs and preparing myself for the lectures better so that I'm not overwhelmed during the note taking. Yesterday was even better. We went on an arranged tour thing with one of the hostel people, which was fun because it was just the seven of us and the guide, who was a really awesome, chill guy. He took us to a salt mine, a monastery, and up a mountain to an ice cave that has 26 meters of ice dating back to the ice age! It was amazing. In the salt mine all of the tunnel walls were pure salt, so we were essentially wandering around in a giant rock crystal that has been mined by the Romans, as well as more modern peoples, up until 1932. It was really cool. Plus in one of the big extraction chambers there was a little lake at the bottom that we could paddle around on, so we rented some boats and played bumper boats. It was great. I was forced to remember that I'm not really a under the earth person. I kept thinking about earthquakes, which may not have been advisable. But we walked out quite calmly, and I could breathe easy again. The monastery was significant because it's the oldest one around here, founded in 1429. Which is pretty damn amazing. But they've replaced just about everything, except maybe the foundation of the tiny first chapel. So yeah. The hike, however, was stunning. It was a nice sharp incline for about 45 minutes, and then we hit a two track and the switchbacks stopped, but it was still a pretty good hike. I walked really slowly to avoid leaving the less fit members behind, but we still have very long breaks. I don't think anyone anticipated the hike being as hard as it was, so a few of them were in silly tennis shoes and such on slippery limestone rocky trails. There is a lot of limestone around here, and some very good climbing, apparently. And caving, although I'd have to play some mental games to get myself in those caves. I guess that's almost a phobia of mine. Anyway, the Carpathians are really really beautiful. Lots of rocks and trees and flowers and it's all really hard to access by car, so there aren't very many. A lot of horse drawn carts though, which is sweet. All of the house gardens look amazing, and I gather that snow in the winter shuts everything down, so everyone up there must put up a lot of their garden for the winter. Some of the caves we saw have GOT to have amazing deposits in them. This place has had human habitation since just after hominids left Africa (as per archaeological time). I would really like to see some ice cores taken from the ice cave. I'll have to ask Andre if anyone has done that yet. I'll post some pictures instead of trying to describe the cave. It was pretty epic. The hike back to the van was even better than the hike there because we went through some really isolated forest trails before hitting a road again. The forest here is lovely, all green and damp, with moss on every tree and flowers and birds everywhere. The few houses we passed were also charming. Many of them are log cabins, with some detailing that looks like wooden lace around the doorways. I kind of want one. It'd be such a simple way to live, and I'm sure I'd tire of it quickly, but it's so very charming to look at. We got back at 11:15 in the evening, and we are all quite flattened. The hike was about 5 hours round trip, and the car ride a good 6 hours round trip, so we're exhausted. We had to resort to singing along with Cher in order to stay awake until we got back. We didn't want to make Radu, our very sweet guide and driver, drive the whole way with a bunch of snoring college girls in the back of the van. It was a fabulous trip. I intend to spend all of today lounging around recovering, and getting a head start on next weeks work so today will be comparatively boring. Ah well.

PS. I can't seem to figure out how to post photos in this anymore, so I'm including the links to my facebook albums at the bottom of the posts from now on. so this is the one fro this post:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150649244140355.695355.589235354&l=7966306d6e

And this is the Budapest album:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150640851705355.692631.589235354&l=ec2101bd2a

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