Working in the Fall
Autumn arrives quickly in the Rockies. By the time the first leaves started changing in my hometown, the aspens had already put on their grand finally of yellow and orange and red, in the once green mountains.
As the plants shifted in their phenology, we faced special challenges identifying them. Many of the forbs and grasses we surveyed had ready gone to seed and were ready for winter.
With little characteristics left to aid in identification, we had to rely on our past experiences to compile our species list. The ray flowers on many of the asters were either dried up or missing completely, which made getting an ID a bit more difficult.
We do our best to ID plants in the field but occasionally we press specimen to give them a closer look. A few plants here and there have amassed into an entire box over the busy field season. Needless to say we have our work cut out for us as we prepare our data for submission in November.
During our last week in the field a cold front rolled through northwest Colorado. On our last night we were hit by cold rain, which froze and turned my rain fly into an ice sheet. I was thankful that night for my down sleeping bag, and warm clothes. Despite the acclimate weather, we managed to get out and finish our final plot.
A time for celebration
To celebrate a finished field season I took a trip down to Rifle, CO for the holiday weekend to do some rock climbing with friends. Our first stop was Rifle Arch, which features some easier climbs on relatively soft sandstone. The Arch was beautiful and the weather was great for climbing.
The next day I ran into some climbers I met on the front range in Rifle Mountain Park. This area is known for its challenging routes up sharp and unforgiving rock. I was more interested in just scouting the site out, because I knew many of the routes were a bit above my skill level. However I couldn’t resist giving it a try after watching a few friends climb. Here is a shot of the meat wall, as they call it.
The area also features some spectacular plants and wildlife and it was a great place to spend the day and enjoy the outdoors, I made some new friends (a fox) and learned a lot from some really stellar climbers.
I am onto the last month of my internship and the reality is setting in that it will soon come to an end. I am looking forward to reuniting with my friends and family back home during the holidays but I have defiantly gained a whole new appreciation for the West and I am already looking for my next opportunity to come back out here. I am grateful for this tremendous opportunity to do field work in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. Thanks CLM !
BLM, Kremmling CO