Posts filed under Yellowstone

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?

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!

We got a battle in front of us

 
"I hope that the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by. Or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them." - Margaret (Mardy) Murie

Wednesday Thoughts

    Sometimes this world makes me scared, scared that all this will somehow disappear, just like that. But as soon as I am out there I forget about all the worries of our free world, all I can think about are all of these massive wilderness places that are put aside for us, only us! This wilderness is ours, and we should prepare to fight for every last little bit of it from this government that don't seem to value these places as much as we do. 

One place where we can do this is at: Earth Justice

You can also take action on the climate agreement that the US is planning on pulling out from, on Earth Justice website, Take Action

Another depressing thing is that opening ANWR to drilling in 2018 will be one of the priorities in Drumps budget

You can read more about this long battle: War of the Arctic Oil

 
 

Again, I am sharing this powerful video about ANWR:

Yellowstone National Park - Winter Edition

 

Wintersports

Kayaking in the wintertime?

    Every year when we are celebrating Christmas in Bozeman we also go to Yellowstone National Park, it has become a tradition. Well, this tradition is not something new in W's family, they originally went kayaking around Christmas in Yellowstone River, just outside the park (since you are not allowed to kayak inside the park). W's dad doesn't do this any longer, and neither W or his brother does it either. Instead we have transition into skiing and or snowshoeing combined with driving around looking for wildlife.

 
 

Can you get tired of skiing?

    I love skiing, well....last year I wasn't that enthusiastic about skiing and while we were in Yellowstone I didn't because I was sick. But now I am getting that excitement back again. It's weird how that works. Maybe I just skied too much previous years? The other year I signed up for a ski race (25 miles) just outside Fairbanks, and practiced almost every day, on top of skiing back and forth to work every day...so that might have made me tired of skiing? Now, that practice was less about being fast, just about actually managing to be on my skis for 25 miles, since (like all other races in Alaska) there isn't a lot of support on the trail. 

 
 

Winter in Yellowstone National Park

    The past few years we have ventured out into Yellowstone National Park during Christmas break. One year we actually celebrated New Years Eve in the park, well technically right outside. We always stay at a B&B in Gardiner which is one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Most of the other people staying there seem to be snowmobilers, or at least that is what it seems like during breakfast at the small cafe that is included in our stay. As with any other National Park receiving a lot of snow and cold temperatures during the wintertime, many roads are closed. In Denali National Park the whole road is of course closed, but you can still bike, snowshoe, hike, and ski, just like in Yellowstone. We aren't that interested in snowmobiling and also don't want to spend the extra money to get on a snowcoach. So we ski. 

 
 

Skiing in Yellowstone National Park

    The animals don't take winter break, well aside from the bears I suppose. Which mean that the bison or the "huff buffs" as I like to call them, will still be there. It is quite frightening to ski around a corner and realize you just scared the whole bison herd, and less exciting to see the little baby bisons try to bluff charge towards you, even if it is from a distance. The buffalos are huge, heavy and a little bit stupid I would say, someone else might argue differently. Maybe they are just supersmart but very stubborn? Don't get me wrong, I am actually terrified of bison, because they are so big and heavy!

 
 

National Parks in the Wintertime   

    Have you ever been to any of the National Parks in the wintertime? Which one is your favorite and where would you want to go? Check back in a few weeks to see more pictures from Yellowstone National Park in the wintertime.