The past few weeks have been super productive here in the Buffalo Field Office. My SOS coworker Nick and I have so far completed 18 collections and in doing so have honed our GPS abilities, rancher communications, and knowledge of Wyoming grasses and seed ripeness. I’ve gotten completely lost, but thankfully found my way back, and have been working so hard I’m exhausted everyday I return to the office. But it’s the best kind of internship I could ask for.

Besides seed collections, I got the amazing opportunity to hike with some BLMers and people from the University of Wyoming into the Gardner Wilderness Study area near Barnum. The first day we did limber pine monitoring in the area looking for rust, adelgids, and overall health. The second day, the recreation planner and I embarked on the most epic hike of my life. Literally nothing could prepare me for the hike it was. Imagine looking at a cliff face and thinking “there’s no way anyone could ascend that” and then realize that you will have to, and you must find a way. We hiked for 10.5 hours (only 8.3 miles) mapping the route and looking for any public activity. We hiked down a dry creek, alongside bear trap creek, up a steep drainage (with some skilled rock climbing) of a canyon and back down, alongside more of bear trap creek and back up the other side of the canyon through prickly bushes to our camp. We came across breathtaking views and a couple mountain lion dens where I found an awesome elk skull with a five point rack. I returned to the office today scraped up (my legs look like the product of Freddy Kruger) and extremely sore, but also very proud of myself and gained another awesome experience with my coworkers and the BLM.

-Kelly Thomas

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