Coming out of July, I spent three days backpacking the Lost Coast in the King Range with two other BLM employees, Paul, a wilderness ranger and Aaron, a fish biologist. Access to the King Range is generally restricted to hiking; not just because of the wilderness designation but also the shear wicked topography limits wheeled vehicles. This black sands coastline has massive cliffs dropping straight down with intermittent rolling prairies, nothing like I had seen in Oregon.
Along the trail Paul was greeting fellow backpackers and answering questions, mostly about bears and suitable camp areas, while Aaron, placed temperature probes in streams. My purpose here was to map selected noxious weeds with the Juno unit and then pulling the exotics.
The last field night out some black bears raided camp, going straight for the bear cans and avoiding our tents that we were sleeping in altogether. The bears shook and rattled the cans, eventually waking everyone up as we shouted, “Hey Bear! Hey Bear!” until they wandered off into the night. Following the tracks next morning we assumed the bears probably checked out other adjacent backpacking camps for a meal.
Fast forward a week or two and Ive spent my time collecting seed for natives such as Curly Wallflower (Erysimum menzseii ssp. concinnum), which seemed to grow exclusively within patches of poison oak which definitely was not the most enjoyable seed collection. Yellowtinge Larkspur (Delphinium decorum) and Large-leaf Sandwort (Moehringia macropyhylla) both had their challenges but perseverance prevailed and we eventually had enough for SOS.
Now its August and I’m saying goodbye to the Arcata Field Office. I have never worked with a group of such supportive and passionate individuals who not only care deeply about our natural resources but about maintaining positive public relations. I have learned a tremendous amount of field methodology and techniques, as well as acquiring a stronger understanding of the botanical realm. I feel lucky to have experienced Northern California in ways most people have never seen. Because I started in March I can still get some summer road trips in before the real world takes over my life again. Thanks to the Arcata Field Office, my terrific boss Jennifer and of course, thank you Krissa and Marian!