Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, February 11, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, February 11, 2017 


Mars scientists are wrestling with a problem. 
Ample evidence says ancient Mars was sometimes 
wet, with water flowing and pooling on the planet’s 
surface. Yet the ancient Sun was about one-third 
less warm, and climate modelers struggle to 
produce scenarios that get the surface of Mars 
warm enough for keeping water unfrozen.

 A leading theory is to have a thicker carbon-
dioxide atmosphere forming a greenhouse-gas 
blanket, helping to warm the surface of ancient 
Mars. However, according to a new analysis of data 
from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, Mars had far 
too little carbon dioxide about 3.5 billion years ago 
to provide enough greenhouse-effect warming to 
thaw water ice.

 The same Martian bedrock in which Curiosity 
found sediments from an ancient lake where 
microbes could have thrived is the source of the 
evidence adding to the quandary about how such 
a lake could have existed. Curiosity detected no 
carbonate minerals in the samples of the bedrock 
it analyzed. The new analysis concludes that the 
dearth of carbonates in that bedrock means Mars’ 
atmosphere when the lake existed could not have 
held much carbon dioxide.

 “We’ve been particularly struck with the 
absence of carbonate minerals in sedimentary 
rock the rover has examined,” said Thomas 
Bristow of NASA’s Ames Research Center, 
Moffett Field, California. “It would be really hard 
to get liquid water even if there were a hundred 
times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 
than what the mineral evidence in the rock 
tells us.” Bristow is the principal investigator 
for the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) 
instrument on Curiosity and lead author of 
the study, published in the Proceedings of the 
National Academy of Sciences.

 Curiosity has made no definitive detection of 
carbonates in any lakebed rocks sampled since 
it landed in Gale Crater in 2011. CheMin can 
identify carbonate if it makes up just a few percent 
of the rock. 

 For the past two decades, researchers have 
used spectrometers on Mars orbiters to search for 
carbonate that could have resulted from an early 
era of more abundant carbon dioxide. They have 
found far less than anticipated.

 “It’s been a mystery why there hasn’t been 
much carbonate seen from orbit,” Bristow said. 
“You could get out of the quandary by saying the 
carbonates may still be there, but we just can’t see 
them from orbit because they’re covered by dust, 
or buried, or we’re not looking in the right place. 
The Curiosity results bring the paradox to a focus. 
This is the first time we’ve checked for carbonates 
on the ground in a rock we know formed from 
sediments deposited under water.”

 The new analysis concludes that no more than 
a few tens of millibars of carbon dioxide could 
have been present when the lake existed, or it 
would have produced enough carbonate for 
Curiosity’s CheMin to detect it. A millibar is one 
one-thousandth of sea-level air pressure on Earth. 
The current atmosphere of Mars is less than 10 
millibars and about 95 percent carbon dioxide.

 “This analysis fits with many theoretical studies 
that the surface of Mars, even that long ago, was 
not warm enough for water to be liquid,” said 
Robert Haberle, a Mars-climate scientist at NASA 
Ames and a co-author of the paper. “It’s really a 
puzzle to me.”

 When two lines of scientific evidence appear 
irreconcilable, the scene may be set for an advance 
in understanding why they don’t agree. Curiosity 
is continuing to investigate ancient environmental 
conditions on Mars.

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder



[Nyerges is the author of 
“Guide to Wild Foods,” 
“Enter the Forest,” 
and “How to Survive 
Anywhere” who leads 
regular survival classes. 
For more information, 
contact him at or 
Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.]

 I had never been to Mount Lowe before, though 
I’d been to Echo Mountain many times. This 
was the mid-1960s. My friend George from the 
neighborhood was in the Boy Scouts and he’d 
been up there with his troop. So one winter day 
he offered to lead the way to the old Mount Lowe 

 We hiked to Echo Mountain from the top of 
Lake Avenue, and then hiked into Castle Canyon 
where there was a lot of snow! I realized I was 
unprepared for snow when we were about halfway 
to Inspiration Point and my feet were already wet 
and cold. I was wearing some old suede shoes, 
which were not waterproof. My friend assured me 
that we were “almost there,” but every step was 
getting more and more difficult, and my feet were 
cold. I also saw the value in snowshoes during that 
hike, since my feet kept sinking into the holes in 
the snow that I made with every step. I was working 
hard step by step.

 Since then, I have worn cramp-ons on my 
boots, as well as primitive snowshoes that I have 
fabricated from willow branches. But I did not 
have snowshoes on that first cold day to Inspiration 
Point and Mount Lowe Tavern. Occasionally, 
where we could not readily see the trail due to the 
thick drifts of snow, we would step out too far and 
our foot would go right through the snow and 
we’d have to jump back to keep from falling off the 

 My friend began to tell me about the “tavern” 
-- I had not heard of it before. He was explaining 
the people who went there, and what they did, and 
for some reason, he did all his explaining in the 
present tense. I had pictures of a modern ski lodge 
up there, and I was mentally counting the change 
in my pocket and wondering if I’d have enough for 
a hot chocolate and maybe, just maybe, I’d have 
enough money so I could buy some chicken noodle 

 I was looking in the direction of where my friend 
said it was, figuring I’d be the first one to see the 
smoke coming from the chimney. Imagine my 
great shock when we hiked up to the little saddle of 
Inspiration Point and he said, “We’re here.”

 “We’re where?” I exclaimed, visibly disappointed.

 “Inspiration Point. This is where it was. And 
the old tavern is actually down where the camp is 
now.” His use of tense seemed more accurate now, 
and after a few questions, I realized to my chagrin 
that I would be having no hot soup or chocolate 
that cold afternoon.

 My feet were completely wet, and numb, and 
only moving around kept me feeling somewhat 
comfortable. It seemed a little easier hiking that 
quarter mile down to the old tavern site. There 
was a lot of snow, and there was much more left of 
the old tavern back then than you will find today. 
It was a wonderful and mysterious place with 
the stone walkways, and walls, and little trails. 
Only the cold kept me from exploring even more, 
though I returned many times to the tavern site in 
the years that followed.

 On that day, we struggled to make a small fire, 
using up all our matches. We had a tiny fire, which 
we fed pine needles, and we managed to get it 
bigger but we didn’t get any warmer. I think that 
all the fire we generated was merely steaming off 
the water in the wood, and we felt very little heat. 
George had some dried soup which we tried to 
cook, and I recall having a “lunch” of lukewarm 
“soup” with crunchy noodles. But I was cold and 
hungry and even crunchy not-hot soup was better 
than nothing.

 Occasionally a wind would pass through the 
area and we’d hear the loud wind in the treetops 
and lots of icicles and snow would drop from the 
trees. It was very much a Christmas scene. After a 
while of not-getting warm by the not-warm fire, we 
kicked some snow over it, and ran most of the way 
back down to the city.

 On a more recent visit to Echo Mountain just a 
few years ago, I was hiking with my hiking class 
from Pasadena City College. It had been a drizzly 
and cold day, and after we explored the ruins, we 
went over by the large fireplace area to have our 
lunch. We were surprised that a man in a t-shirt 
was sitting nearby, and he’d cleaned out the 
fireplace for his shelter. We started talking, and we 
were admiring all the arrowheads he’d just made 
from the bits of glass he’d collected from around 
Echo Mountain.

 He said he was very skilled in wilderness 
survival, and he made some sort of a bet with a 
friend about whether or not he could spend 10 days 
in these mountains with nothing but the clothes he 
was wearing. That was apparently his second day 
there. He knew about some edible plants, though 
there wasn’t much to collect. He had the tools for 
making fire with a bow and drill, and he’d made 
a quickie bow and some arrows, and had nearly 
finished making a batch of arrowheads.

 He said he was going to catch squirrels to eat, 
and maybe other animals. We were all mighty 
impressed and asked him lots of questions. I know 
that I would not want to spend 10 days in the snow 
in my t-shirt, so I gave him my magnesium fire 
starter, and then we departed. I told him I wanted 
to hear how he did in those 10 days, and gave him 
my address and phone number. I never did hear 
from him again, though I assume that if things got 
really tough, all he had to do was walk a few miles 
down to the city. It was winter, and some snow had 
actually fallen close to Echo Mountain, so it would 
have been a cold 10 days.

 If you’re planning any winter hikes, always carry 
basic gear, such as some extra food, water, fire-
starter, a small pot and stove, first aid kit, and extra 
clothes. Always tell someone where you’re going 
and when you’re planning to return.


I have been pondering a delicate question this 
week. Why is it I can only do one thing at a time? 
If only I could do several things at a time, I could 
get more accomplished.

 The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is an 
expert when it comes to multitasking. Although I 
have lived with her for over 45 years, I still do not 
know how she does it. She is better than a circus 
juggler and can juggle a dozen tasks at the same 

 Not me, that is for sure!

 I like to do many things, but I have to do them 
in order and one at a time. That is how I have 
always done things even though I have tried to 
juggle two things at one time but it has never 
been successful. Usually, both of them fall to the 
floor and I have to start all over again.

 Every day I make a list of things I need to do 
and start working on them one by one. I am 
looking forward to the day when I will be able to 
accomplish everything on my list.

 Maybe I am just trying to do too much.

 Like the other day, I needed to go across town 
to pick up something at one of the office supply 
stores. Usually, I am not allowed to go into the 
grocery store by myself. However, when my wife 
found out I was going to go across town, she 
asked me if I would stop at the grocery store and 
pick up a few things. Then she handed me a list, 
and said, “Get everything on the list and only 
those things on the list.”

 Then she gave me one of “those looks.”

 It is hard for me to go into a grocery store and 
not pick up a few things that I want. I have never 
seen any ice cream that I did not want. However, 
when I am on strict orders with a shopping list, I 
don’t have any leeway at all.

 It started out rather well. She handed me the 
list and I put it in my pocket and headed for the 
front door. As I was going out, I heard her say, 
“Remember, only those things on the list.”

 I chuckled to myself and myself chuckled back. 
I was on a mission and I knew I could accomplish 

 My favorite office-supply store is Staples. 
Everybody there knows me by name because 
it is almost a second office for me. I have often 
suggested that they have some coffee there for 
their customers, but if that would happen, they 
would never get rid of me.

 Staples was my first stop. When I got in there I 
walked by the pen section. I never can walk by the 
pen section, I always have to stop and examine 
all of the pens they have there. I have a nice pen 
collection and I am always looking for some pen 
that I do not have. You never know when you are 
going to find something that you do not have.

 I love the fountain pen section. As I was 
looking at the fountain pens, I saw one was on 
sale. For someone like me who is addicted to 
pens, especially fountain pens, this was the end 
of the road.

 It was a beautiful pen and was only half price. 
How in the world could I resist this?

 As I examined the pen, I realized I did not have 
one like this in my collection. Even if I did have 
one like this in my collection, the temptation to 
purchase would be overwhelming.

 Therefore, I did what any pen obsessed person 
would do. I took it to the counter, talk to the 
cashier about this wonderful pen and told her 
how it would add dignity to my pen collection. 
She chatted back and told me that it was a 
beautiful pen.

 Finally, I paid for the pen and walked out to my 

 All I could think about was that wonderful 
new fountain pen. I could not wait to break in 
this new fountain pen, which is a delicate ritual 
that I enjoy so much. I was so happy and excited 
about it.

 When I got home, I hurried inside so I 
could show this brand-new addition to my pen 
collection to my wife and have her join me in 
admiring it.

 She glanced at it somewhat nonchalantly and 
then stared at me with one of those stares. It was 
one of those stares that indicated I was in trouble. 
I could not for the life of me figure out why I was 
in trouble.

 With both hands on her hips and staring at me 
she said, “Where are the groceries I asked you to 
pick up?”

 “Groceries?” I had forgotten all about the 
groceries. In fact, I had forgotten about why I 
went to Staples in the first place.

 As I headed for my truck a Scripture came to 
me, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it 
with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, 
nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither 
thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

 It is hard for someone like me to focus on two 
things at a time. Therefore, I need to focus on 
what my hand can do, rather than what I cannot 


 Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of 
God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. 
He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call 
him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.
net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.

Fireplace in Ye Alpine Tavern, Mt. Lowe

This is the scene Christopher thought he would 
find on his first cold trek to Ye Alpine Tavern.

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