Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A day in the life of Hi Mountain Interns 2011

Hi Again,

Welcome  to the first rendition of "A day in the life of Hi Mountain Interns
2011." This will help you gain an understanding of what we do every day. Each
portion in broken into time steps and narrated. Enjoy!

SUNDAY/THURSDAY (depending on group)

4:00 pm Meet at an intern's house, unload various amounts of luggage/camping
equipment/field equipment into extremely packed, fuel-efficient cars. 

5:30 pm Arrive at Hi Mountain Lookout, grab GPS and 60 Sherman traps and a LOT
of Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Oatmeal. Run back to the car and drive, jump out
of car with gear in hand and hike to first GPS point. Hike in three parallel
lines down N/S axis of plot, dropping two oatmeal-laden traps every 20 meters
(run through poison oak if necessary, do this for 80 meters). Hike to next GPS
point and repeat above process.

8:00 pm Make dinner (most likely something cheep and kids) and
crash out.


5:00 am Alarm clock goes off, everyone groans and proceeds to wake up. Breakfast
is consumed, sunscreen is lathered on, field equipment is tossed into the car
and the ignition is started...half asleep coffee addicts hold their cups for
dear life as the car winds down the bumpy roads. 

5:30 am Arrive at first plot, walk briskly (its cold!) to first set of small
mammal traps. Hold open a plastic bag, wrap it around one of the closed traps
and fling the unsuspecting animal into the bag. Everyone crowds around the bag
to take pictures and google at the cute, fuzzy, first small mammal capture of
the day! Handlers take animal out of bag and hold gently while other interns
take measurements, determine sex, age and species. One down....59 traps to

10:00-11:00 am Finish opening traps and IDing small mammals at both plots. Begin
vegetation analysis...oh boy! On both plots, vegetation is measured at 5m
intervals to the North and South of the plot center for 25m in each direction.
This task is accomplished by rolling out a measuring tape and holding up a 7m
long pole to see which plants intercept the stick. Densitometers are also used
at each point to determine percent cover. By the end of the morning, most
everyone is pretty pooped...trying to remember plant scientific names, handling
feisty little critters, hiking all over creation/under large shrubs/through
poison oak bushes can take a lot out of you :)

11:00 am-3:00 pm Relax time! Usually consisting of eating lunch, doing
telemetry, greeting visitors, taking "Technu" baths and napping!

We have had several sets of visitors come up since we have been working, the
most fun group we had was a family from South Africa that brought their
grade-school children. We had a great time talking about condor history and
conservation, the kids had so much fun that the little boy pronounced he was
going to do a school project on condors and they will probably be visiting again
soon to get more information!

3:00 pm Begin searching for new GPS points to grid out for next week's research.
Usually consisting of driving as far as possible, hopping out of the car and
wandering around in the wilderness until the GPS gains reception and points you
in the general direction of the plot (this process is usually interrupted
several times by photo ops or wildlife sightings). Once plot is found, we all
run around with bright orange flagging like little kids playing with streamers
and tie them to trees/shrubs that correlate with our trapping grid. 

6:00 pm Repeat trapping step from 5:30 pm on SUNDAY/FRIDAY

8:00 pm MORE FOOD and sleep!

This process repeats for several days and then we return home dirty, tired,
satisfied and proud to be Hi Mountain Interns.