Friday, December 15, 2006

Lost In The Woods

There are plans to build a 20-foot observation tower at the boardwalk platform at Goodson Lake. There are many administrative and engineering hurdles to clear before that becomes a reality. One proposal requires special equipment to place into the swamp bottom the four poles that will support the structure. That equipment is too large to travel to Goodson Lake via the boardwalk. However, 30 years ago there was an old road that approached Goodson Lake from the south (opposite of the boardwalk).

Today, we set out to locate the lost road and determine if it would be feasible to move the equipment to Goodson Lake along that path. We were successful in locating the majority of the road. Some trees have grown up between the tire ruts, but the forest is sufficiently open to allow the equipment to navigate around those obstacles. Therefore, an approach from the south is feasible. However, it is the other items that we found lost in the woods that captivated our attention.

First, we found a long-lost radiosonde that was likely launched by a weather service office to collect data in the upper atmosphere. Below is an excerpt from the National Weather Service office in Charleston, SC:

We release a helium-filled weather balloon at 6 AM and 6 PM LST (Local Standard Time) each day. The balloon carries a small battery powered radiosonde which collects weather data as it rises to around 10 miles above the Earth's surface. When the balloon bursts it has expanded to the size of a room in a house; a parachute then carries the re-usable instrument back to the surface. Ground equipment at our office tracks a radio frequency sent by the radiosonde so that we may get a vertical cross section of pressure, humidity, and temperature measurements. The ground equipment also computes wind speed and direction at various heights above the surface. This is done by calculating the radiosonde's change in position with time relative to the ground station. A computer codes the upper air data, and it is sent to a national supercomputer in Washington, D.C. for input to the forecast models. With a worldwide network of three dimensional upper air observations, weather forecasts of temperature, clouds, and precipitation can be produced for periods up to 7 days into the future.

Of greater interest was the remnants of a whiskey still and a gallon jug holding a small amount of clear liquid. Besides hunting, fishing and hiding from the British, the swamp was perfect for hiding illegal stills. The rusted 55-gallon drums and copper pieces were located within 150 feet of the boardwalk near #12. The pieces of the still have been there for over 35 years only now to be discovered. The swamp really is a great place to hide or get lost!

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