Spring in Nevada has brought exceptionally cool and rainy weather. However, we need all the rain and snow that we can get before the hot, sunny days of summer begin. According to NRCS, the Sierra Nevada Mountains have less than 25% of the average snowpack (based on a median between 1981 and 2010)! I’m very thankful for the rainy days. It has been wonderful to see fresh snow blanketing the mountain summits and ridges. Hopefully, it will prolong the accumulation of dust on the trails.
Well, I haven’t written a blog for a while now, and I apologize for the delay. So much has happened since the last time I wrote about our adventures. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll just focus on the highlights of the past month.
We are out in the field nearly every day now. Most of our field work has been the collection of herbarium vouchers and seeds from early flowering species. We have now collected seeds from Lomatium austiniae and Amsinckia tessellata. I have found the collection of seeds very peaceful. During my wandering around in the seed collection sites, I often stir small lizards and birds from their shelter within the sagebrush and greasewood. Last week, during the collection of A. tessellata, I saw two horny toads! These were the first horny toads I have ever seen in Nevada. I’m surprised it took me so long to find them.
There is a lot of work to do in the herbarium at the University of Nevada in Reno. Maggie, Olivia, and I went to the herbarium on a rainy Friday several weeks ago. We identified species and used herbarium specimens to verify current and past SOS collections. The days out in the field are splendid; but, every once in a while, you need to spend some quality time with a dichotomous key, plant identification books, and a microscope.
A couple weeks ago, we ventured into the Pine Nut Mountains for an overnight camping trip. We were planning on monitoring Ivesia pityocharis and collecting more herbarium vouchers and seeds. The first day of our trip began with beautiful weather – cool, but sunny. Yet, as the sun fell behind the Sierra Nevadas, a storm began its own descent upon us. In the vanishing evening light, we quickly pitched our tents, cooked and ate our dinners as fast as we could, zipped up tent doors, and slept through a silent night of falling snow. The next morning, I opened up my tent door to an inch of snow, low visibility, and cold temperatures. As we made tea next to the fire, we realized that monitoring and collecting herbarium vouchers was not possible that day. But I guess that is field work. You just never know what might happen and, at least, we gave it our best shot!
I’ve been going into the wilderness as much as I can. About three weeks ago, some of the other interns and I went to Bridgeport, CA for a weekend. We backpacked a little into the Hoover Wilderness, where we hiked around and went fishing. I didn’t catch any fish on my fly-rod. I’m hoping to go out again in the next couple weekends. I would love to catch a Golden Trout! I have never before explored the Great Basin Desert and Sierras, and I’m glad this job opportunity has allowed me to wander through these areas.