The days are growing short here in Nevada and so does the length of our internship as we have only 2 weeks left. Funny enough 10 months has gone by fairly quickly and now winter is returning to the area as the leaves have fallen and early snow has come to the Sierras. It has been very nice to see the Cottonwoods and Aspens turn this fall and hopefully this last collecting trip will still have some fall colors in the canyons of the mountains.
I have had the opportunity to learn many things this year, but the most exciting has been learning and studying the flora of the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains! As a botanist it is simply fascinating to learn about new species of plants in habitats that are totally foreign to you. This gives countless opportunities to learn more and more about all kinds of plants in some amazing country from low deserts to high alpine summits; not to mention all of the amazing wildlife that you encounter.
Bright yellow fall colors of Populus tremuloides near Sonora Pass
This opportunity of working in Nevada has really encouraged me to continue to seek opportunities in the west for work or graduate studies. I look forward to seeing where the skills that I have gained and the experiences I have had will take me in the future. I have some exciting opportunities in the works and look forward to see where they will lead. It has been great to work with friends who are also botanizers and appreciators of the outdoors. Nevada has been a splendid place to explore the beauties of the natural world and make some great friends.
A large friend in the Toiyabe National Forest
May the sun always brighten your tomorrow friends,
Sunrise over Death Valley
I dismounted from my trusty steed, Bronzie, and crunched down onto the hardened gumbo. So this is what they mean by the word desolate. A northerly wind whipped at my dry lips as I scanned the horizon for signs of life. Luckily, I wasn’t the only sign of life this time. My partner had taken it upon himself to accompany me on my journey; a recon mission to get a lay of the land and to see if the treasure is abundant enough to make it worthwhile.
I hadn’t been to these parts before and a strange, low humming sound caught me off guard. Futilely craning my neck to try to see past the lonely buttes, I was surprised to see a low flying aircraft coming towards me. Instinctively, I ducked and buried myself in the sagebrush, a remnant of my days as a thieving vagabond. I waited as the aircraft flew by and then doubled back over me. Was I being paranoid or am I actually being accosted for trespassing on some kind of sacred ground? Thankfully, my partner was there to reassure me that we were on safe land where we were supposed to be. I reluctantly stood up and began to focus on why we were here in the first place, although I felt a twinge of unease as the plane circled overhead a third time.
“So, it looks like we got a good bunch here,” my partner said, a waiver of excitement in his voice. “You don’t say,” I agreed as I guided my hands through the dry branches feeling hundreds of our treasure falling into my palms and onto the ground. On closer inspection I could see we had some good ones, really good ones.
“Looks like we hit the jackpot,” I said hoisting the strap of my brand new Seed Sucker 2000 over my shoulder. My partner had come up with the idea to use this new tool and so we’re in on this adventure together sharing in the rewards and glory.
We went straight to work and within an hour or so had decided that the new tool was the best idea since toaster ovens. Pretty soon, long after I had forgotten about the aircraft, we had a new set of spectators. A group of ladies had come to the edge of the road to get a closer look at the two orange freaks. Feeling quite proud of myself at the moment, I tipped my hat and blew them a kiss. If only I didn’t already have a family back at home… Who knew Montana was brimming in such riches. I remounted Bronzie and took a last look at the landscape before heading in for the night. I’m not sure why I had originally called this place desolate, she just hides her secrets well. As I began the long journey home, a low humming sound began to stir somewhere off in the horizon.