martes, 29 de abril de 2008

Supernatural River Tsunami

Flood waters along the Carretera Austral

The Baker River has been in the news lately, and not just at the center of the hydroelectric debate. A three square mile glacial lake disappeared in a matter of hours during April 6 and 7 and made a swift reappearance near the confluence of the Colonia and Baker Rivers. 200,000 million gallons of water seeped out of the lake through a large tunnel below the Colonia Glacier in the Northern Ice Field and raged for five miles towards the Baker River. The onslaught of water was enough to make the Baker change direction for two hours and rise 13 feet. It also dropped the temperature of the river from 52 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. There are accounts of animals being washed away and homes being flooded. Fortunately, there were no human casualties.

Scientists attribute this strange phenomenon to rapidly increasing temperatures in the region. The process of ice-melt and rising water pressure on the glacier below the lake caused the crack or tunnel. The Colonia Glacier has receded 1.5 miles in the past 50 years.

Many Patagons remember summers past with very few days of warm weather, but this summer temperatures reaching the mid-80s were the norm. While disappearing lakes are reported more commonly in the Himalayas and happen occasionally in the Andes of Peru, this is the second lake disappearance in southern Chile in the past ten months after a forty-year spell without anything like it. I haven't read anything about how the energy company reacted to this incident or whether it casts doubt on the stability of the zone targeted by the dam project, but it makes one wonder...

On the Tracking Patagonia front Sarah and I are hacking out a living back in the U.S. and hoping to get a trailer out very soon. As I review footage it's pretty interesting to see friends stroll through the room and make various observations about what I'm watching.

"Oh my Goood, that's beautiful! Lake Tahoe...?" Nope, Patagonia.

"Oh my God, look at the cat...haha, he loooves it!!!" What the cat loved as he sat next to me pawing at the television was a pair of woodie woodpeckers searching for worms right above our tent one morning.

"Oohhhh, I like that one!!!" In reference to a nifty little pan down from the moon to an ice-capped mountain and eventually down the mountain side to a raging waterfall on the side of the Carretera Austral.

As for my own reactions to the footage I'll just go so far as to say that some of it makes me laugh, other parts give me the craziest case of goosebumps and - for various reasons - a few parts even bring me to the point of tears, which is quite uncommon.

I am glad to report that I haven't settled into any real American routine after a month and a half back in the U.S.. I look forward to the couple days a week that I drive from Boulder down to Denver and Sarah and I sort through our footage, organize our efforts and hash out our next moves. Quite the crash-course in film-making...:)

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Patagonia and want to get the best news in one dose, go to The Patagonia Times website: There you'll find articles on the disappearing lake, the downward spiral of the controversial salmon industry (have you noticed where the salmon in the supermarket comes from?), as well as reports on Bobby Kennedy Jr.'s comments after a recent trip to Chile. You can also check out the Boston Globe's recent report on the rivers-at-risk and the New York Time's controversial anti-dam editorial.

Thanks for reading along!


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