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 The Trek: The Journals

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Team: North
Stephen Braunlich
Thursday, August 22
A Pockmark on Progress
Today’s move was to Homestake Picnic Area, but the action was in Butte. Here showered at an old YMCA. The building was built before 1920, and was 4 or 5 stories high. The architecture was of the era and pleasing to the eye. I am a fan of 1900s-1930s style and so enjoyed walking around the building.
Afterwards, a group of us went to drive around town, in order to get a feel for the place. We took in the architecture and drove by some of the local tourist attractions. From this experience I came to better understand and appreciate the town. It was an area that had reached its peak, and had begun to falter. But rather than try to diversify its economy and lower the importance of mining, it continued to concentrate on its aging cash cow. Consequently, it is now full with old and abandoned mining claims.
It was Butte’s attempt at milking the last few drops out of mining that led us to the dark side of the progress of technology - Berkeley Pit. This hole in the ground was started in the 1950’s with the development of open pit mining. Over time it grew, and became a blight on the landscape; a huge scar that can never be repaired, and in fact now poses a threat to Butte.
After 1982, when the mine was shut down, the Pit began to fill with water (the pumps were shut down). Over time, this has begun to rise and I am told now fills over half the depth of the Pit. Due to the monstrous effects of mining on the soil, the water is highly acidic (pH of 2) and full of deadly heavy metals like lead and mercury. The shade of the sludge is an ominous red. To put all this in perspective, it was considered a major breakthrough when researchers managed to find some insect life in the Pit.
The real threat is in the continuing rise of the water. It is estimated that in 18 years the water will have risen high enough to contaminate Butte’s water supply. This will make the water undrinkable. Consequently, agencies are now scrambling to find a way to treat the water so that it is potable. Otherwise, the city faces dire circumstances.
Having observed this Frankenstein of the geologic world, I am now faced with the disappointing realization that mankind is in fact too greedy and too shortsighted to be able to do what’s best for themselves and the world. In seeking profit over safety, Anaconda (the mining company that ran the pit) has managed to create an unhealthy, ecological disaster. I’m disgusted.
for Thursday, August 22
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Stephen Braunlich
Braunlich sports the latest look in bear collar technology

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 12
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, September 11
Stephen Braunlich
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Sunday, September 8
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, September 4
Stephen Braunlich
Easy Day in Yellowstone
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Tuesday, September 3
Stephen Braunlich
First Day in Yellowstone
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Monday, September 2
Stephen Braunlich
Long Hard Hike
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Monday, August 26
Stephen Braunlich
More of the same...
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Sunday, August 25
Stephen Braunlich
Bit o' Heaven
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Saturday, August 24
Stephen Braunlich
Humbug Spires
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Friday, August 23
Stephen Braunlich
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Thursday, August 22
Stephen Braunlich
A Pockmark on Progress
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Tuesday, August 13
Stephen Braunlich
Many Thanks
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Tuesday, August 13
Stephen Braunlich
Bushwacking
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Monday, August 12
Stephen Braunlich
Welcome to Aspen Grove
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Sunday, August 11
Stephen Braunlich
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Saturday, August 10
Stephen Braunlich
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Friday, August 9
Stephen Braunlich
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Thursday, August 8
Stephen Braunlich
First Posting
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Thursday, August 1
Stephen Braunlich
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Wednesday, January 9
Stephen Braunlich
Targhee Creek Continued
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