Fieldwork in Yellowstone part 2

 

Adventure Tuesday

My life choices and interest

Often times I stop to think about my life choices, where I started, what paths I took and how I ended up over here, here in the US. There is no doubt that I am living a life that I love, I get to do all those things that are of big interest to me. Sure, I get the boring parts too, but even the boring parts can be enjoyable, which in some sense proves that I actually do love what I am doing. This summer I got to do fieldwork in two different areas, not my own fieldwork for once. I went to Puerto Rico with my job, and helped out with some fieldwork there. A few weeks later I flew into Jackson Wyoming, W picked me up and we drove into the Grand Teton National Park. The following week we spent most of our time in both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. The fieldwork itself was in Yellowstone during this trip.

 
 

A tale of several fires

Both W and I study fires for our PhDs, I study how wildfires affect the stream water chemistry and the connection between the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems up in Alaska. Our work is based on climate change and its effect on wildfires, we are trying to understand how a shift in climate might affect the future ecosystems in Alaska, and in the rocky mountains. W studies how changing wildfire regimes and climate affects tree seedling establishment after fires in sub alpine and boreal forest. Alaska with its boreal forests and the Rockies with coniferous and sub alpine flora are two very different ecosystems, but with many similarities. One really important similarity is that changing fire regimes likely mean profoundly different ecosystems in the future. 

 
 

Getting dirty

We share the passion, the passion for our nature. I usually get tangled up int the small details while W tries to understand the bigger picture. We spent most of the fieldwork on all fours, counting seedlings, stumps, trees, charred vegetation, cones, ghost logs and logs. Temperatures were in the 90s and we were basically in a black forest. Mosquitos were not necessarily a big issue, but they were there. By the end of each day we were all black, tired and hungry. We camped at a campground outside the park and swam in the river most evenings. I had the time of my life.

 
 

Did you go on any adventures this summer?

 

That Cabin in the Woods

September 13th 2015

 

Flashback Friday

    It has now been more than a year since I left Alaska and that cabin in the woods. Wisconsin has grown on me but it ain't Alaska. This will be my second fall away from that home. A second fall away from that boreal forest of mine, with blueberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, fireweed, birch and black spruce. There is nothing like a boreal forest in fall colors. It strikes me quite often how much I miss that place, too much for my own good. There is no benefit to constantly think about the past and miss things, we will probably live a pretty miserable life if we do. But then again, we might anyway if we can't live where our hearts do.  There is nothing like fall in the boreal forest!

 
To the Lover of Wilderness, Alaska is one of the most Wonderful Countries in the World  
- John Muir

Holly Lake

IMG_0970.jpg
 

Adventure Tuesday

The Tetons

    This summer I flew out to Jackson, WY, to help W and his field crew with some ecology work, mainly in Yellowstone. We stayed at a lodge in the Grand Teton National Park, just about an hour or so south of where we were doing most of the fieldwork.

Hiking

    I had just arrived in Jackson a few days earlier when we decided to go on this hike. Originally we wanted to backpack and spend the night at a campsite or alike, somewhere in the mountains, but with all the logistics we figured that a day hike was a lot easier and maybe more doable given the circumstances. I always want to see some grand views during my hikes, and if you can fit in some forest, streams and alpine tundra into that mix I am all for it. A couple of other friends had done this hike the day before and said it was amazing, so we also went on that same hike. 

 
 

2900 Feet and 13 Miles

    As I said, we got forest, streams and mountains, right of the bat. We would have to earn the view of the alpine ecosystem of course, some total elevation gain of 2000 feet or so... The deep forest, consisting of spruce and pine does remind me about the Swedish forest to some extent. It reminds me that I have to go back there and get some hiking in. As always we marvel on this landscape, and the ecology behind it. We are both ecologists/biologists, so even the tiniest things matter to us. 

 
 

Holly Lake

    The end point of our hike was an alpine lake, Holly Lake. A beautiful lake at an elevation of 9450 feet. Originally W wanted us to continue after the lake, up on the ridge, before heading back, but that did not happen. We were satisfied with the lake being the end point of this hike. I for one was happy about this, because I was pretty beat after that approach. The last few miles before the actual lake we were treading through snowfields that were starting to melt. But what a view once we got there. I am always so blown away by these landscapes. I have to pinch myself in the arm to make sure it's for real. We took a nap at the lake after a quick lunch and then started the descend.

 
 

Heading Back

    Most often I am not a fan of out and back trails, with the exception of hikes that includes a view, which seem to be the norm nowadays. Usually when you hike up you keep looking back at the landscape behind you, and you get treated by that landscape all right in front of you when you walk down. Every single view of this hike was absolutely spectacular! Have you done any hiking this year that blew your mind away?

 

Wild Places

 

Wednesday Thoughts

“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.” - John F. Kennedy

Our Public Lands

    These last two months I have been traveling extensively through parts of the wilderness of this country. It is Amazing to see all these public lands, let it be a National Park, National reserve, National Forest or any other public land. How lucky we are that these places have been set aside, for us, for you, to enjoy. Unfortunately there are people on this planet who do not care about the wild places, greedy people who care more about money than our public lands. 

 
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder, is standing up for our public lands. Stand with him. Text DEFEND to 52886 by August 24.
 

Nature and Politics

    The video below always makes my eyes tear up, it hurts my heart to hear politicians talk about Alaska the way they do. I can only feel sorry for them, that they do not appreciate these wild places like you and I do!

 
For hundreds of generations, the Gwich'in people of Alaska and northern Canada have depended on the caribou that migrate through the Arctic Refuge. With their traditional culture now threatened by oil extraction and climate change, two Gwich'in women are continuing a decades-long fight to protect their land and future.
 

Wild Places

    This summer has made me crave more and more of the wilderness. Can you believe that I can crave more than what I have already craved. It's like a disease, it spreads and grows for each year. How do you feel about the wilderness?

 

Jinxing it?

 

Wednesday Thoughts

Bears

    As you probably have read earlier I am obsessed with bear and moose safety. With all the wild animals that walk around the watershed I've taken many classes on bear safety and how to act in order to prevent a bear encounter. A few weeks ago there were two bear attacks on two separate days at two different locations in Alaska, both with a deadly outcome. Both including a black bear. It made me think about the fact that I have no clue what to do if worse comes to worse and you are attacked (read the bear is actually eating on you and it is a predatory bear). We do have the bear spray, but if for some reason I would not be able to deploy the bear spray and the bear actually got to me? Or you ran in to one of those predatory bears that is in it for a meal, what do you do? I know they say fight for your life, but how can you fight for your life if you have nothing to fight with but your bare hands, arms and legs? I have heard other stories about people being attacked in their tent, well I know this is extremely rare, but I started storing a knife in the tent for a while, and then I forgot about it. A knife that would allow you to cut the tent open if you needed to. I used to wear a knife in the field to, but then I forgot about that too, it was usually in my backpack if I did bring it. 

 
 

Fieldwork

    W has been in the field too, countless times, many times alone. I think W has seen a bear from afar in the past while doing fieldwork, and I saw the back of a black bear once running away from me when I was on the ATV in the field once. Another time something was luring behind a tree as a friend and I came walking quietly after a long day in the field, we spooked it, it was huffing behind a large tree before it took a large leap to the side and ran up the hill. Still no clue if this was a bear or a moose. Lesson learned, be loud, and then be even louder. It's easy to forget about this after a long day working hard in the field, or when you are working with your head down in the stream it's easy to not make enough noise, plus you will most likely draw a curious bears attention to you, because many of them are just curious. With W's field season coming up and what had happened in Alaska I wanted him to buy a knife, a knife to have as a last resort, if for some reason there was no other way but to fight for your life. We talked about bear safety too, repeating what we already knew, again. I know W thought I was being ridiculous, but with what had just happened I felt first off very saddened for the two peoples families, but also very scared and wanted to be sure there was a way to fight for your life. I've had people laugh and make fun of me for my intense worry about bears in the field in the past too, but at least I want to be up to date with the bear safety for my own safety.

 
 

Jinxing it?

    W bought a knife, a large hunting knife, I mean not too large, but enough to be able to potentially make an impact. At least something to have in the tent if you would need to get out fast, or to have on your belt in the field. After a few hours of the first day in the field for W he texted me and said he had to pull his bear spray. Which is insane because that has never happened before, he has never had an encounter like that before. This time he wasn't even alone. But the bear was a curious black bear, those are the worst. A young curious black bear who would not move away even though they made sound and made themselves larger. Eventually he moved away enough for them to feel safe and retract too. Did I jinx his field season? A couple of days later they were going to cross a stream to another field site and W decided that they should walk downstream a bit, and then try to cross. Well luckily they did because they manage to spot two grizzlies across the stream about 50m away from them, something they would have popped up right in front of had they crossed earlier. Yeah I really jinxed it didn't I?

 

Last time I camped in Yellowstone National Park

 

    Fingers crossed that those were the only bears for this field season, as I am sitting on a plane on Friday to Jackson WY to spend 10 days in the field in Yellowstone, and some of those camping!

 

Let's Camp Again

Memorial Day Weekend

Camping

 

Adventure Tuesday

Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is a big day here in the states, it is a federal holiday to honor and remember the people who have served in the united states armed forces.  Back in Alaska we always went camping or went out for a small adventure, but I haven't really done that in a while so we decided it was time for another trip! A lot of people go camping or hiking during this weekend, or have large family gatherings and BBQ festivities. We took the opportunity to go on a camping trip in the North Woods. 

 
 

North Woods

    We drove almost 5 hours north (about 279 miles, or 450km) until we arrived to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Don't ask me to pronounce that name because its literally impossible and it sounds very funny when I try to. Memorial day weekend mean that a lot of people are on the road, driving towards their final destination. There were quite a lot of people on the roads during the first few hours but then the traffic decreased significantly and almost disappeared as we got closer and closer to the North Woods.

 
 

Camping

A lot of people on the road also mean that the campsites might all be full. There are quite a few campgrounds in and around Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. You can book some of these campsites at certain campgrounds, but the one I had looked at you had to book several days in advanced, you literally could not book it online 2 days before?!? which is ridicoulous...anyway, there were plenty of first come first serve options, but, as the name entails, first come first serve. The final camping option is dispersed camping, which is allowed in National Forests, as long as you aren't close to anyones property, or close to a real campground. However, we realized that finding dispersed camping in Wisconsin might be a lot harder compared to Montana. Either way, we got a late start and figured, worst case scenario we just sleep in the car. 

 
 

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

    We arrived at one of the campgrounds that I have looked at during the drive, and we decided to take a left and go through one of the loops, and voila, right by the lake was one open spot at 5pm on a Saturday! W went on a short mountain bike ride, and I set up the tent!

 
 

Ticks!!!

   The temperature this weekend was so high, but that mixed with frequent rain showers made for a  very humid climate. While I was setting up the tent I discovered an insect I haven't seen for years, because we don't have them in Alaska (well they are extremely rare), I killed it as best as I could and saved it so I could get a confirmation from W. Well, W came back and I showed him and he said yup, totally, a tick! And then we started going through W who had been biking through bushes on the trail and, we found several more ticks on W, and the coming days we found countless of ticks, I seriously think we removed about 50 or so... We did get a wonderful weekend though, filled with good food and mountain biking!

 
 

    Have you been camping yet this year?