Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weekly Update (August 16-17, 2017)

Weekly Update (August 16-17)
Hi Mountain Lookout 2017 Interns –Emily Hermann (Bawss), Cecilia Huizar (Strawberry/watermelon), Gaku Ogawa, and Massupha Upachit (SPICY NOODLE) and honorary Nelly (CorNelly)

       Final week up at the lookout. Thanks to Dr. V and Kevin Cooper for giving us an opportunity to explore, gather data, work as a team, and learn in many ways.
The team all got together in the morning around 8am and Massupha kindly drove us the Pozo station. At the station we switched to the US Forest vehicle and drove down to finish gathering data on the final area of Site 3. Site 3 only had 4 to 5 patches and we moved onto Site 4, Oakwood land. We didn’t know much to expect from the site, since we had never explored the area prior. The creek bed of the site was littered with giant rocks, compared to the previous sites where the creek bed was made of sand. The density of milkweed was lower in site 4 compared to site 2 and 3. We gathered data until there was a bush of poison oak we could not go around and called off the mission to gather more data to keep everyone safe. We finished around 12:30 and made our way to the lookout. On our trip up to the lookout we decided to give each other nicknames which are written above. Sadly I forgot my own nickname.

      At the lookout we opened up the lookout and ate lunch. The cool slight breeze outside had most of us eating outside while we read the lookout journals and reading an entry of a professor who was once an intern, made us laugh. Cecilia later that night put in our entry into the journals. After lunch, Emily and Cecilia decided to go out for condor radio telemetry. Emily received two signals. Approximately 1 hour later of resting, they both went out again for radio telemetry and Cecilia got a signal. We were able to wrap up with the whole team receiving at least 1 signal for radio telemetry. Sadly, none of us were able to see a condor.

      At around 4:00 we headed back down to Site 2 as advised by Dr. V to check out, but on the other side of the road, which we called Site 2b. We collected data from Site 2b, which was roughly the same terrain and density of milkweed plants as Site 2. We saw one dead monarch larva, which looked like it was beginning to become a chrysalis, but the larva looked deflated. None of us could understand what happened to the poor potential butterfly, but we guessed after Massupha read one of the books at the lookout that an assassin bug was the culprit for hte poor larva. Some of the milkweed had pods and opened up. We continued gathering data until about 6:00 where we ran out of data sheets to write on.

        Soon after arriving back at the lookout at 6:30, Kevin Cooper called and I relayed what he said to the team. We are all eager to have dinner with you and Dr. V once you get time from all those fires. (Thanks for taking care of all of those fires Kevin.) After relaxing our tired legs and changing into more comfortable clothes, Massupha started making spicy noodles for the final night challenge, the SPICY NOODLE CHALLENGE. We all got a good portion of noodles and counted down from 3 and started eating them. Emily finished her noodles first, then Cecilia, then me, and then Massupha as she had the most amount of noodles. Emily was awarded the “finished first” award. Cecilia ate more noodles after and was awarded “eating the most noodles”. I am weak to spicy and was awarded the “at least he tried award”. Massupha was awarded the “brought and made the noodles” award. With our spiced up mouths burning, Cecilia brought out her already cut watermelon we partly ate during lunch, which saved us all, or at least I was saved. That night, the stars were stars were shining brightly and without the moon, the Milky Way shined brightly in the sky. Cecilia and Emily slept outside, which Massupha and I slept inside.

       The next day, we got up and ready around 8:00 and closed up the lookout around 9:00 to go down to Hi Valley. The steep trail proved to make us all tired. Nearing the start of the Savanna region, or as Emily called it the “grasslandy” area, and the end of the brush area, the brush thickened, so the trail will need a large amount of clearing where scissors for plants and gloves maybe needed. We took approximately 1 hour to arrive at the base of the valley. There we saw a large amount of milkweed plants. The largest obstacle in the area was the abundance of poison oak and typing on a phone for data. The site seems to be a potential good site to look at if time allows, but the abundance of poison oak makes, gathering data more difficult. After only about 1/6 of a mile, there seems to be no more easily accessible milkweed to gather data from. If future parties come down the valley to gather data, the trail will need some clippings and poison oak might need to be cleared. At around 12:30 we headed back up the valley side to the lookout and arrived around 1:30 to eat lunch and drove down to Pozo station. We then refilled the tank up at Santa Margarita and cleaned the truck. We said our gratitude to the firemen at the station before leaving for home.