Our time in Susanville has been wrapping up as the fall rains have been becoming more frequent and with that, increasing the amount of time that we have spent in the office. The roads are now wet and muddy, so it’s been difficult to get out into the field without completely trashing them. Two weeks ago, after we got a lot of rain over the weekend, we tried to go out in the field to visit some water rights, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it and had to turn around. It seemed like the road would be passable, but as soon as we started climbing up Spanish Springs Peak, we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to happen. The wheels started spinning and digging into mud and we lost traction, so all we could do was turn around and slide back down the hill. One exciting part to this adventure was that it was snowing! Snow in the desert is a stark contrast to the intense heat that we had in July, when I remember thinking that cold weather temps would never come, but here we are in late October and fall is in full swing.
To get a break from office work last week, Jocelyn and I took a work trip to the Jepson and University Herbarium at University of California Berkeley. This is the herbarium where our SOS collection vouchers are going to be kept, so instead of mailing them we took the opportunity to drive them to Berkeley and deliver them ourselves. We spent the afternoon there looking at plants of interest in the collection and learning about the organization of the herbarium, what they do there and what it is used for. I have never seen a collection of plants this large, so it felt very overwhelming and definitely a place that one could spend hours in. When we were explaining the concept of an herbarium to a friend, we described it as a museum of pressed plants, which definitely felt like an accurate description of the collection they had. At Cal they actually have two herbariums housed together, the University Herbarium has specimens from all around the world, while the Jepsen focuses on California specific specimens. I really enjoyed looking at some of the forbs that we collected this summer and ones that we have seen around the field office and on weekend trips. We looked at Clarkia lassenensis, that we collected for Krissa’s Onagracae project at the beginning of the summer. At the time of our collection the plants had already fruited, so we were fairly certain of the correct identification, but this gave us the opportunity to see the specimen in person. From what we could remember from our collection, it looks like we what we collected and the voucher matched up, although there was some variation in the leaf size from the vouchers at the herbarium. Additionally I also looked at the Mimulus guttulus, (common monkeyflower) collection and a few Castilleja sp. collections, (Indian Paintbrush). Its one thing to look at the collection photos online, but having the opportunity to actually see them in person brought our work to full circle and I am very happy that we had the opportunity to visit.
Our weekends have also been busy as always! Since my last blog post, we went to Desolation Wilderness, south of Lake Tahoe, for a backpacking trip. It was my first backpacking trip, which happened to be during the first snow in Tahoe! It was exciting, but also added a whole new layer of intensity to the trip. Luckily we were able to set up tents before the snow really got going and in the morning we woke up to around 2-3 inches of snow! For the rest of our hike we could see lots of animal tracks, including a few from
bears. The weekend after we finished our remaining sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail to finally complete all 165 miles of the trail, YAY! We are now part of the 165 mile club 🙂 The past two weekends have been city trips, which has felt a lot different than most of the trips we’ve done this summer.
BLM Eagle Lake, Susanville, CA